Madhureeta Anand: Kajarya - A feature film focusing on female foeticide Print E-mail
 Thursday December 3, 2015

No, woman, no cry

By Namrata Joshi

  A still from the film Kajarya , which releases across the country this Friday
Film-maker Madhureeta Anand draws attention to female foeticide in Kajarya

It’s a feature film that comes with the support of a number of women’s groups and NGOs such as One Billion Rising, Actionaid, Sangat, Jagori, Girls Count and more.

The reason is not far to seek. Kajarya , that releases across India this Friday, examines a  shameful problem crippling our society, that of female foeticide. But, its maker, Madhureeta Anand, says she has tried to go beyond that to look at the larger fractious, dangerous world in which Indian women exist.

“I have tried to examine the psyche behind the many heinous crimes committed against women. Why do they happen and why do people just watch from a distance than intervene,” she says.

It’s the lurking sense of danger, the feeling of not being safe that she has tried to explore and evoke in the film. “It’s something most Indian women feel but men haven’t quite experienced. While I have tried to offer a sense of catharsis to women, I do hope that men will also realise what we are up against,” she says. Madhureeta’s debut was a hardcore commercial film, Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye , starring Raima Sen and Randeep Hooda. The idea for Kajarya had been sitting in her head for a long time but it was the 2010 Census and the skewed sex ratio it revealed that got her cracking on the film. She wrote several drafts of the script and eventually shot it over 30 days in the second half of 2012 in Jhajjar in Haryana (a place infamous for crimes against women) and in several villages in Uttar Pradesh.

Kajarya is the name of the film's protagonist and Madhureeta has chosen newcomers for the lead and other roles. “My film is like a fable and the newcomers make it believable, they are very close to the grain of my characters,” she says.

In fact, she even used women from the villages where she shot as secondary cast and extras. The film’s rough cut was shown in the Dubai film festival last year.

I have tried to offer a sense of catharsis to women - Madhureeta Anand,Film-maker
 November 18, 2015

Female infanticide more in cities than villages: ‘Kajarya’ filmmaker

By: IANS | New Delhi

Filmmaker Madhureeta Anand, who made a deep study of female infanticide in the country in her film “Kajarya”, says she was surprised that the practice is more rampant in cities than in villages.

“Sex selective abortions happen more in the cities now than in the villages. The sex ratios are dropping much faster in Delhi and Mumbai than in the villages. It is very worrying. I don’t think it is a phenomenon which is just rural,” Anand told IANS.

For years, the issue of female infanticide has plagued society, but of late, whether it’s television shows, social campaigns, activists, actors or films, voices have been raised against it. Anand, whose first film was “Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye”, is herself happy that women are no longer reticent to talk about issues as grave as infanticide.

“The women really have a lot to say, but building trust (within them) is a part and parcel of the job. I think when people face this problem, they know it is a problem. They do not deny it. They might say that you are exaggerating it, but they won’t deny it because it is an issue in their faces,” the 42-year-old said.

To spread awareness about female infanticide, Anand even hosted special screenings of “Kajarya” in a few villages across north India. She wanted her 125-minutes- long movie to be watched by screenings for women who have been privy to the social evil.

In fact, Anand also tied up with NGOs like One Billion Rising, Sangat and Action Aid to spread the message in villages particularly. She said that it was a way to “use the film as a tool for emancipation and social change”

The movie tells the story of two women from different backgrounds, wherein one lives in a village and has the job of killing the baby, while the other is an opportunistic journalist from New Delhi. Actress Meena Hooda plays the former role, while Ridhima Sud is cast as a journalist.

Kajarya” was premiered at the Dubai International Film Festival in 2013, and travelled to several other movie extravaganzas, evoking strong reactions.

Asked about the importance of international film festivals as many Indian films have taken to premiering at such platforms ­ be it “Masaan” , “The Lunchbox”, “Margarita With A Straw”, “Dhanak” or “Titli” ­ Anand shared that it is “a sad reality, but in India we like the stamp of foreigners”.

“With films also, we somehow don’t trust our own judgement. So, that stamp of quality helps, but the second really good reason to take ‘Kajarya’ abroad and what really helped me was that I showed it to so many audiences, and I got feedback for it,” she said.

The film will be up for judgement by the Indian audience on December 4.
 Mumbai ~ Wednesday December 2, 2015

Kajarya review: This feisty, hard-hitting film on female foeticide is not an easy watch

by Subhash K Jha

Sitting numb at the end of this deeply disturbing film on female infanticide, Kajarya, I was informed that 10 million girls have been killed in our country since the 1980s.

This is no country for women. Think about what girls have to go through, from the foetal position to the missionary. If and when they are born, girl children have to face constant discrimination even in educated, ‘liberal’ families where the male heir is automatically given preferential treatment. When girls grow up they face perverse prejudices, unspeakable harassment and unchecked abuse from a civilisation that seems to think women are prey to every form of unwanted attention.

Given the backdrop, Madhureeta Anand’s film Kajarya is intrinsically depressing. She builds a sense of profound oppression , distrust and foreboding from her female characters’ inability to rise above their lot. You can belong to any social strata. But if you are woman you get seriously stymied in thought and action.

This melancholic drama opens with a visibly devastated women sprawled on a charpai. A man prods her awake, ‘Wake up, it’s time’ From this intriguing beginning the narrative builds surehandedly if somewhat jerkily and unevenly ,into a ghoulish suspense drama in a Haryanvi village, where little newly-born girl children are being sacrificed by heretic ritualists.
A still from Kajarya. (Facebook).

Kajarya is not an easy film to watch. With its oppressive ambience of gender atrocities, the other film that comes closest to this one is Manish Jha’s Matrabhoomi. I had sleepless night after watching Jha’s utterly joyless drama of female subjugation. One needs nerves of steel to digest the bitter horrific truth about the plight of the female sex in Kajarya.

The execution of the theme is somewhat self-righteous, reeking more of propagandist martyrdom at times.

Director Madhureeta Anand has our attention by force. She does not allow audiences the luxury to flinch or turn away. The nerve wracking narrative (don’t look for light moments in this grim drama of the damned) force-feeds us with its treatise of gender exploitation to the point when every female character , including the protagonist who has self-admittedly butchered dozens of babies, seem like a victim.

Barring one interesting exception(a Haryanvi man with a little daughter whom he protects ferociously against aggression) every male character here is either a lout or a lech, including a journalist's boyfriend, who is an upperclass brat who pounces on her for sex and demands she wear ‘decent’ clothes work every time they meet.

In one clumsily written but nonetheless effective love-making sequence Nikhil fumbles with Mira’s pants to perform oral sex , and gives up while Mira does the needful smoothly.Ah, what would we do without women!

Women, in Madhureeta Anand’s film are smarter and far more capable than men and yet assigned a subservient status by a social order that sanctions the penis to be the tyrant. It’s all a little lopsided. But then who are we to complain? We brought this on ourselves through centuries of gender inequality.

This is a film that shivers and dilates to a music of simmering discontent. Somewhere in the second-half Lata Mangeshkar’s classic lament of treachery and betrayal "Mohabbat ki jhoothi kahani pe roye," from Mughal-e-Azam surfaces to remind us how time passes by.

The women in Kajarya are doughty victims, but victims nonetheless. Towards the end the director brings together the two female protagonists, the Delhi journalist Mira and the Haryanvi child killer Kajarya, for a confrontation. And that just didn’t move me. Maybe by then I was too numbed to react to the on screen drama. Also, Meenu Hooda, who plays the title role of the rustic Haryanvi woman, was a little too urban and way too old to play the character in the flashbacks.

Riddhima Sud, seen making a pleasant debut in Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadkane Do, is well cast as the annoyingly self-fixated Delhi journalist who throws all caution to the winds for a scoop. Kudip Ruhil as the village goon, who undertakes monstrous manipulations in the name of religion, is suitably squalid.

Kajarya is not quite the long-legged social statement that the film’s well-researched plot would suggest. But it has its heart in the right place.