Published: 09th October 2019
Madhuvanti Maddur with her debut documentary Exhibit - A explores a different kind of relationship
The editing for the film was done by Arbab Ahmad, the sound design by Malay Vadalkar and the animation by Pawan Anand
While we know monogamy as relationship du jour, there are other kinds of relationships that need to be talked about too. Polyamory, in which one person chooses to have more than one partner, is one such type of relationship and Exhibit - A is one such documentary which explores it in the most sensitive and insightful way as possible. Director and conversation starter Madhuvanti Maddur helmed this project in January this year. Not more than 18 minute-long, this documentary is the debut work of this graduate from National Institute of Design, who specialised in Film and Video Communication.
The director: Madhuvanti Maddur worked tirelessly on her debut documentary | (Pic: Madhuvanti Maddur)
Getting back to the documentary itself, well-known Director of Photography Bakul Sharma and Madhuvanti used a hand-held camera and set up shop inside the spacious home of the couple in this documentary for more than seven days. The documentary starts in the most delicate way possible where the couple is seen candidly talking about how it would be simpler to explain polyamory to a child. And it is their easy camaraderie and conversations that stay with us beyond the run time of this piece. "While the husband turned out to be camera-friendly, the wife got there eventually," says Madhuvanti with a smile. The documentary itself is simply an easy-going conversation between the two and them talking about their relationship. "We come from an ancestry of acceptance so I was 100% comfortable making this documentary," says Madhuvanti. But were the audience 100% comfortable watching it? Given that the environment nowadays is less and less accepting of anything that seems like an anomaly. "There was certainly no backlash, there was surely a lot of curiosity and I wanted to start a conversation about it," she explains.
Madhuvanti also holds a BFA specialising in Visual Communication from College of Art, New Delhi
"Polyamory relationships also happen to be at the end of the queer spectrum. For example, a queer woman can still be part of the larger spectrum when she gets marriage rights. But for those in ‘poly’ relationships, this does not happen at all. Also, within the community, they can be seen as 'players' instead of people who truly believe that no one person cannot fulfil all requirements," explains Madhuvanti, who was in Bengaluru working as an Assistant Director for Happily Ever After is a five-part mini-series directed by Aditi Banerjee. "I don't really consider myself a filmmaker, I am just trying to learn as much as possible. I consider Exhibit - A to be more of an ethnographic piece rather than a documentary," she shares. In March, she worked on Sunny Side Upar, a short film directed by Anurag Kashyap and now, she will be travelling to Mumbai to write and director a little something for an NGO. Looks like Exhibit - A was just the beginning for her.