Published: 12th May 2021
Why Imdaad is the short film you need to watch to understand the taboo behind menstruation
Dr Mohammad Ali Hussainy who is a doctor by profession at the University of Oxford loves to direct short films on various subjects. His short film Imdaad tackles the subject of menstruation
When Dr Mohammad Ali Husainy flew from the United Kingdom to India in August 2019, he was looking forward to spending some quality time with family and friends. But after meeting the team Fatema Nafisa Lokhandwala and Pranav Mandole, all they had was short films on their mind. And that's how Imdaad was made in less than 72 hours.
Dr Ali, who is originally from Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh, talks about Imdaad, "This short film focuses on the first period in the life of a school-going teenage girl. A high school girl called Megha is in a desperate situation when she has her first period and is looking for some help. When she is waiting in the washroom, she sees a boy roaming the school corridors. Whether she is comfortable asking a boy for help forms the story of Imdaad."
Dr Mohammad Ali Hussainy working with cinematographer and video editor, Pranav Mandole
Intrigued? You should be. "Imdaad is an Arabic word and it means a person who comes to your aid in difficult situations. The story originally came from our Screenplay and Production Manager, Fatema. When she explained this story to my wife and I, we thought that it is a good time and a good subject to speak about. We went ahead and directed and produced it. Because we believe that boys must be equally educated and receptive about the changes that happen in girls when they reach puberty," he adds.
While the screenplay and story came from Fathima, Pranav worked as a cinematographer and editor. He explains, "This film was shot in 2019 but it took some time for the team to release it on YouTube. The film was sent to various film festivals both on the national and international platforms. After seeking permission from these film festivals, we released Imdaad on YouTube in August 2020. But within a short period of time, the film has won three awards, found acclaim and has been screened in four film festivals."
But what makes this film unique is that it is shot in a real school environment, with students and teachers, in Bhilaspur. Dr Ali recalls, "When we approached the prinicpal of this particular school in Bhilaspur, they were not ready to allow the film to be shot there. Since the menstrual period is still considered a taboo in India, we were told not to shoot the film in their school. Later, we sat with the principal and other staff members and gave a presentation on our previous projects, short films and how Imdaad is going to make a difference. Finally, the team agreed to permit us to film on the campus."
Another factor that makes Imdaad very watchable is the students who are first-time actors. When the film is screened, it will definitely catch the interest of young and school-going audience. "Though they didn't have any experience with acting, they gave their best shots and quickly. Two days before we started shooting, we held a workshop for these children on dialogue delivery, body language and honed their acting skills also. One can look out to learn skills from these two children whenever you watch Imdaad," he concludes.