What's with crimes against women? If your ire knows no bounds, watch filmmaker Nishtha Jain's Gulabi Gang, a veritable version on the Bundelkhand-based women vigilantes who are scared of nobody and nothing to proclaim their freedom
If your blood boils while reading yet another story on crime against women, discover the Indian women vigilantes from Uttar Pradesh, popularly known as Gulabi Gang. They are cool and know how to kick @*# despite being having never gone to school. Discover them and their journey in Nishtha Jain's eponymous documentary that traces this rural revolution through the founder, Sampat Pal, today at NCPA.
A still from the documentary where Sampat Pal, the founder can be seen resolving issues
Jain, an AJK Mass Communication Centre graduate, speaks of how Pal has been a force beyond reckoning; "I simply had to walk with her in the main streets of Attara town where everyone seemed to know and respect her and a crowd formed as soon as she stopped to talk to someone. Even gun-toting mustachioed men on motorcycles stopped to have a word with her. In these macho and harsh surroundings, to see a woman in a pink sari becoming the centre of attraction was such an interesting experience."
Jain explains the woman behind the aura, "I met Sampat, who is part feminist crusader, detective, arbitrator, and politician-in-the-making in January 2009.
What was even more fascinating was that she was born into a backward caste family of sheep-herders, married when she was 12 years old to an older man and later, she joined Kisan Sabha that led her to working for a women's organisation." Pal later went on to defy her in-laws and became financially independent by running her own tea shop in order to support her five children. Currently, living with her aide Jai Prakash who Jain likes to call "her sounding board", Pal has gone onto inspire many.
Translating her efforts on the big screen, Jain informs, "The fact is that Gulabi Gang's membership has risen to 4,00,000 women alone in the Bundelkhand region. She has several regional commanders who independently carry out work in their regions." Calling her work nuanced and textured, Jain opens up about an intriguing insight on the group's workings, "There were contradictions not only in her personality but ambiguities surrounding her brand of home-grown feminism and egalitarian politics.
There was something taking place there that challenged many of my easy urban feminist assumptions." Her success rate is 99% when it comes to resolving marital discords — a fact that Pal herself is proud of. "She explains that if she takes a radical stand, she would have no followers. She believes in the happy middle ground and taking small step at a time," concludes the filmmaker who invested 50 days to develop this must-see.