Published: 24th March 2020
This documentary on violence against women by a Pondicherry University student is a real eye-opener. Check out why
Arya P Gopi discusses about the various violence against women in the name of love and the impact she tries to create against it through her film
How many of you watched Deepika Padukone's latest release Chhapaak? For those who haven't and don't know what it is about, it is the story of an acid attack survivor who is put through the legal wringer while trying to heal from the ordeal, based on the true story of acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal. We can't help but salute her and women like her for having the courage to put their lives back in place after such a gruesome attack. While we celebrate their courage, what about about those who have lost their lives in the name of so-called love? Arya P Gopi discusses such attacks against women who've lost their lives just because they dared reject the advances of men who later became their murderers. And she does so through her documentary No Means No.
Arya P Gopi
Arya, a second-year MA Mass Communications student from Pondicherry University, recollects the horror of reading the news of the murder of civil police officer Soumya Pushpakaran of Vallikunnam Police Station in Alappuzha district by Ajas, a colleague. "The incident happened on June 15, 2019. The woman police officer was knocked off her bike, stabbed, doused in petrol and burnt alive for rejecting Ajas' proposal. Soumya, a woman in her 30s and the mother of three children, died on the spot. Ajas succumbed to burn injuries after a few days from the incident," describes the 22-year-old morbidly. While he paid for his actions, the story doesn't end there. "Such incidents are prevalent today. If a woman rejects a man's proposal, she is killed. I wanted to make a documentary highlighting this concept to bring such cases into the limelight," shares Arya who shot the documentary as part of her Master's specialisation project in October 2019. "But the documentary does not stick to Soumya's case alone. It revolves around other incidents related to murder in the name of rejected love in Kerala, including Kavitha Vijayakumar and Neethu," she informs.
Manu Ashokan, director of Malayalam movie Uyare was interviewed as a part of this documentary
When we ask about the different messages conveyed, she explains, "I have included the laws related to petrol procurement where oil companies are banned from selling petrol in plastic bottles. Only a few petrol pumps are aware of this law. I have also concentrated on the aspect of the victim's relatives, psychology of the murderer and the motive behind the act." And does she believe that the message has been effectively delivered? She proudly says yes. "I have received positive responses from friends, faculty members and a few experts. One of my male friends even confessed how the thought of causing harm to the girl who broke up with him dissipated after he watched the documentary and that it was a real eye-opener. This is definitely the impact I wanted to create," she smiles. The documentary won first place in the Cine Evolution Youth Festival 2020 conducted at St Joseph's Degree & PG College, Hyderabad. It was also part of the AVTAR Film Festival at Dr GR Damodaran College of Science, Coimbatore and Pondicherry International Documentary and Short Film Festival.
The aspiring filmmaker informs us that she wants to make more documentaries on cases of violence against women. "I worked for almost a month to complete this project as I had to travel to different districts in Kerala to meet with the different resource persons. Most of the families were reluctant to share any information regarding the incident. However, I received consistent support from my professor Dr T Balasaravanan, my cinematographer Suresh Y and production crew members Athira S and Anantapadmanabhan U. As it is a challenging topic, I was worried if I could do justice to it. But with the opinions and feedback I have received, I feel like I have," she says, signing off with a content smile.