Even as India’s official entry for Best International Feature category in 93 rd Academy Awards Jallikattu got out of the race, a short film ‘Bittu’ made by filmmaker Karishma Dev Dube and presented by a women cinema collective Indian Women Rising (IWR) founded by Ekta Kapoor, Guneet Monga and Tahira Kashyap – has been shortlisted along with 10 other films for the category Best Live Action Short Film.
The film has managed to make heads turn without featuring any known names and limiting itself to local casting from the hilly states of North India. “At the time of making the film, having an all women team was not my agenda, but as luck would have it, we ended up with amazing women behind and in front of the camera. The success of Bittu is not just one person’s credit, but the blood and sweat of so many women, bringing it to this point of recognition. That too in a country like ours, where it is still hard for a woman filmmaker to make a film,” says Karishma.
Stressing on the point as to how it is still a struggle for women in this field she adds, “As far as statistics are concerned, I think men have to stop making films for a hundred years on random subjects for women to catch up (laughs). There are many important stories coming from women these days, but they lack the facilities and right kind of shove to actualize them. They don’t get as many opportunities as men.” She maintains that while she has been privileged enough to be working on her production and post-production work in New York, where there is better support for women, others are not as lucky.
“I’ve experienced it first hand while shooting in India. As I was working in the northern rural side of the country, people would often wonder and ask me why am I going around to places ‘unaccompanied’. They would ask me where my husband was. Initially, it did make me feel apprehensive, and I wondered if indeed I should have got someone along. Eventually, I won their trust and carried on with my work unaccompanied,” she says.
With the film making big splashes internationally, she hopes her work will inspire more women to pursue their passion projects. “I like to create a more matriarchal world and tell stories of women – because there is enough and more on how men view the world. If Bittu makes any woman a little less lonely and little braver, I would be very happy,” she signs off.