The film events are far away from the dancing films of Bollywood that display beauty queens and stars, such as Satyajit Ray and Mirnal Sen; and away from the flavorful Indian eateries in Europe. In India, there are men who hate the womb through which they saw the light of life.
Faraway in inland India in Bundelkhand of dry-soiled land, women lose their lives just because they are females. Faraway in the hell of ignorance, girls are forced to marry at a young age and their right of education is taken away if they managed to survive murder.
Faraway on a train where women are stocked up like fish tins, Sampat Pal and her associates from widows and outcasts are on a chronic journey to exit the world of darkness.
|would the European funding impact the narrative style and how are events seen? Was it possible for this group and its head Pal to get to the remote villages with their camera, investigating once, and supporting at another instance without the Western support in the film?|
The award winning film - Public Liberties Award at the 10th Aljazeera Festival for the Indian director Mrs. Nishtha Jain begins with pink images depicting heads of women photographed from behind, as if they are ripe roses in a spring bunch.
When the frame depicts a hand on a cane, followed by a pale face, and a third depicting a sad and hopeless face then you realize you are not about to see a love story film in India. You will also realize through the torn voice of Sampat that the journey to hell has just begun and you would not be spared from the misery of the marginalized Dalit sect. They represent a lower division among other social divisions in India, on the margin of life.
From the heart of fear
The film gets directly into the heart of fear; fear from females and fear from love. This is because women are not entitled to love, own a land, or have her life.
"Gulabi" is a name of a society, found in 2006 and led by Pal. It includes thousands of women whose rights were violated. The film takes us into the practices of this society and the oppression its members have been through amid conditions the local police refuses to resolve. As if such crimes are not indictable by the Indian legislation.
The train and the travel towards misery form the backbone of the epic of those poor women. The over populated carriages of those women, their miserable faces, and their personal experiences summon a state of suffocation. It also makes the words melt and turn into a pink colour, similar to the colour of their saris.
The chant of women on the train with their soft voices predominate the name of the technicians and producers from Norway. I came out of this tedious journey to preserve life within me and wonder about the reality of women in Europe, but my memory is still coloured with the pink colour. Their faces stand as bare tombs in my mind. Then I carefully look at the steady steps of Pal, so my pen gets steady too and I watch the film once again as If I want to restructure it afresh.
Given the film is a co-production of India, Norway, and Denmark; would the European funding impact the narrative style and how are events seen?
Was it possible for this group and its head Pal to get to the remote villages with their camera, investigating once, and supporting at another instance without the Western support in the film?
By the look of it, the film seems of union and rebellious grounds prior to digging deep into the details of its characters. It puts forth a humane front and poses one question: Why women and girls are being murdered in a nuclear country?
The ties that women have with land, and the authority given by owning a land makes women obstacles before the men who are only seen as policemen and judges in this film.
The batons carried by women don't scare the frightening men as much as hunger strike does, and the camera doesn't only record the events, but it also turns into an advocate and a strong shield for them.
|Faraway in inland India in Bundelkhand of dry-soiled land, women lose their lives just because they are females. Faraway in the hell of ignorance, girls are forced to marry at a young age and their right of education is taken away if they managed to survive murder|
Gulabi group doesn't only chase offenders, but they also get into the world of politics by nominating representatives in the local government elections.
The voting begins with a long queue, similar to the train, where men and women are segregated. The women dreams are also different from those of men, and we come to understand that the ballot boxes are being manipulated, despite the winning of some of them. However, the more accurate testimony is the one of the film on Pal and her associates, because the dispute is not confined to courts or ballot boxes, but also in the records of history.
Pal is dramatic in her outfit; she is used to the camera and uses it professionally as if the film crew follows her directions. In the film, a lot of moaning, wounds, bullets, and features of men who looked like ghosts in front of deeply-rooted rituals of ignorance, and in front of the will of Pal and the director's camera.
The film also has police-style suspense, investigation, and inquisition of normal deeds in a world that have only water and sunlight from the normal world. The film's music doesn't invite tears despite the grief of the scenes and the grumpy faces. Yet, the flies in the crime scene purport death and the mindlessness of men since decades.
However, why the film imposes a commercial name Gulabi Gang instead of a "group"?
It is a group of barefoot women who are not aware of their age and have no birth certificates. So, how are they described as "gang" while they resist the racism of the society? The batons they have are only to help them keep going in this life more than a weapon of outlaw gangs.
Group and gang
Does this manipulation in the title have a Western-driven objective?
While I am trying to get out of this question, an unforgettable scene pops in my head from the beginning of the film depicting people bowing for Pal in a village. They bowed for her steady steps in soft voices and confused breathing.
The camera disappeared behind Pal in fear of death, and then it travelled with her between the walls until it reached a dark kitchen. When a corpse is detected by the camera, the frame was embarrassed of life and cinema refuses to record the crime. My memory can't admit that life and death belong to the same substance.
|Sofi Sferman receives the award for Gulabi Gang on behalf of the director at the 10th Aljazeera Festival (Al Jazeera)|
Does documentary cinema need horror scenes to enhance authenticity?
Why did the director begin with such a scene, as she tried to say that the remnant will follow? Does documentary cinema needs to exaggerate in the types of horror, so viewers are like sitting in a market of emotions to buy the ugliest and most brutal takes?
Far from my safe reality and away from India and its 1 billion people, I felt the breeze of the Dalit women approaching my face, so I smiled in respect of their resistance.
If we stay away from the commercial horror films of Hitchcock and other TV investigations, Gulabi Gang takes us closer to the real horror, the world of widows, and the society takes Islam as folklore and free from the light of this religion. It also nears a group of people, who perceive justice and law as symbolic and their articles are written with ash.
Gulabi Gang is a film that relates the story of near and distance; the distance of men from women, the nearness of death from life, and the story of the female that buried alive and was asked about the reason of her murder?