New Delhi, March 25: Ban for one, accolades and glory for another.
Daughters of Mother India, a little-known film based on the December 2012 Delhi gang rape, was on Tuesday picked the "best film on social issues" at the 62nd National Film Awards, weeks after British filmmaker Leslee Udwin's India's Daughter was banned in the country.
A special jury headed by filmmaker Kamal Swaroop - it was appointed by the information and broadcasting ministry to select non-feature films for the awards - said the film was judged the best in this category "for explicitly and determinedly turning the spotlight on the burning issue of rape in the country and the brutal mentality that drives it".
"I am overwhelmed and thrilled at this highest level of appreciation," Vibha Bakshi, the filmmaker, told The Telegraph. "Like millions of others, I too felt outraged by the gruesome incident that triggered massive protests and put India in the spotlight worldwide. So I thought of exploring the Indian psyche from various angles and how it was impacted by the horrific crime."
Bakshi, 44, studied journalism at the Boston and New York universities and briefly worked as a business reporter. She produced two documentaries in the US, one of which explored gender violence.
"My idea was to sensitise audiences towards crimes against women as opposed to Udwin's film that sensationalised the issue by giving one of the rapists a chance to express his views," the Mumbaikar said.
A mother of two, Bakshi did not try to interview the families of the victim or the five accused. She spoke to people from various cross-sections of society.
The 45-minute film shares the award with Vinod Kapri's Can't Take This Shit Anymore that highlights the plight of rural women because of shortage of sanitation facilities.
Indira Jaising, a former additional solicitor general of India, Neeraj Kumar, a former Delhi police commissioner, Kiran Bedi, senior police officers, students, activists and academics were interviewed for the documentary over a period of 18 months.
Leila Seth, a former judge, was also interviewed in Bakshi's documentary. She was also one of the interviewees in Udwin's film.
Bakshi said the similarity in the names of the two films was coincidental. "I started filming the documentary right after the incident and it was completed mid 2014. We exhibited the film for the first time in Mumbai on December 16 last year and over 1,000 people - including top police officers - came to watch it and hailed it," said Bakhshi.
The film has been screened over 30 times at various educational institutions and government and corporate offices, but is yet to be released on TV or the Internet.The film's executive producer is Maryann De Leo, who won the Oscar in 2004 for her documentary, Chernobyl Heart.
Jaising refused comment on the documentary, saying it was related to a case that was sub judice.