The ‘Woman Question’ has been making headlines for some time in the country now, but it has been stealing focus from understanding men in their own right. Catch the film project, Let’s Talk Men 2.0, in the city with the screening of stellar films like — With You, Without You (Sri Lanka); Till We Meet Again (India); Men At Work (Nepal); and Pakistan’s entry to the Oscars, Zinda Bhaag. The project was first undertaken in 1998 and then had a second run, encouraging filmmakers from South Asia to decode the masculine and the challenges men face in becoming ‘macho’.
Rahul Roy, project coordinator and festival organiser tells us, “This was the first series of its kind where a bunch of male South Asian filmmakers set out to present films that explored the idea of what it means to be a young boy in different parts of the region.”
Naseeruddin Shah in Zinda Bhaag
Chronicling how men are stuck between tradition and modernity, Roy terms these films “slices of life” that look back at the past decade presenting the other side of the equation with “issues like conflict, unemployment and rape.”
Going for the kill
Clearly violence is one of the major veins in these films as Roy informs us whose documentary, Till We Meet Again also forms a part of the programme.
Speaking on why South Asia comes under the radar, Roy explains, “Events in one part of the region has repercussions in the other part. The demolition of the Babri Masjid in India sparked riots in Karachi, the 30-year civil war in Sri Lanka emerged as an important political issue in Tamil Nadu, and protests against war crimes in Bangladesh got a response through counter protests in Kolkata.” Being the head of Aakar, a Delhi-based trust that works in the areas of media, culture and research, the academic emerges in Roy.
Poster of the film, Till We Meet Again
How men become men
The selection of films promises an array of revelations as Roy shares, “The films in this series reflect on the price men pay to become ‘men’. In the film, Till We Meet Again, all household members deride Kamal (one of the characters) because he has been unsuccessful at work. Sarathsri, the brooding principal character of With You, Without You, is so focussed on what he wants to achieve that he refuses to respond to his wife’s love and in the end, it gets too late. When young Gurkha boys line up with roll numbers written on their bare chests at a recruitment drive of the British army in the film, Men At Work, they are constantly goaded to be tough. Lastly, in Zinda Bhaag, a group of young men put their lives at stake to illegally migrate to the West but are killed in the end.”