Was glad to see humor -- loved the misogenie -- the feminist finder; the doctor who can cure feminism; the constant display of the e-diet ad (lose 10 lbs in a week) banner during the chat room discussions; loved the pseudonymns adopted bt the men and women in the chat room; loved, loved the discovery of the Gloria Steinem poster. I was reminded so much of the past while during interviews with Mazumdar, Meena Menon and [Urvashi] Butalia. The history of Kali for women jogged my memory and made me nostalgic.
As i was watching the movie I was amazed at how the postfeminist era looks so similar in both the US and India -- similar controversies around the term feminist; the existence of a gretaer independence existing side by side with the desire to not be perceived as being too masculine and independent ( the interview with the young married couple and the mother-in-law was poignant and funny); the resonance of the personal is political in both spaces was an eye opener -- the dance in the college confirming the perpetuation of some of the worst stereotypes again seemed so immediate.
Personally I would have liked to see a greater critique of patriarchy and an involvement with male feminists. In other words I thought (and of course one cannot do everything and the movie was so successful in so many ways) that an inclusion of male voices that could echo some of the core feminist principles and a movement from the personal is political to an indictment of patriarchal social structures would have been interesting.
But in the end the film was wonderfully done.
-- Sangeeta Ray
One could find the college interviews depressing, in that some of their problems are so unfair, like the Faridabad girls who have to go in pairs to drink water because otherwise they get physically attacked by boys. And because the college boys seem so stereotypical. At the same time, one could see the girls as starting their own voyages of discovery, and I'd love to see how their opinions have changed in 5-10 years. Paromita/Jabeen, can we have an update?
-- Susan Chacko
The comment about including more progressive male voices is of course an important one and it's been brought up often after screenings. In a sense the film stayed away from the whole identity pigeonholing, trying to include people as characters in a narrative who express certain engagements with life and ideas via feminism, rather than examples of streams of thought. It's definitely something I grappled with during the making of the film but I have to say, I found it hard to find someone who would belong in the flow of the film as it was emerging and yet would not seem tokenistic.I did look but somehow didn't come across anything. In a sense a lot in the film was also my own process of discovery in a less grand sense - for instance, the policeman Mr. Jhende, I had read about and I was completely unprepared to find him so retrograde! The same for the man in the yuppie couple in the beginning of the film - although I had always expected the double standards of that relationship,I had expected it to be much less stark! In the end I did keep Ravi the young priest in the end for some obvious reasons (and after vehement objection from Jabeen, those were the days, eh! - also accusations from several parties that I just wanted him there for his good looks) that he was a positive male figure and something I couldn't quite articulate to myself at the time - the feeling was right I thought, he worked at an affective level etc. - but over time I feel was that he articulated a relationship with feminism that was beyond his gender identity in some sense, a very philosophical one. I think that's why no one seems to really notice him as a positive male and I feel that's the great thing about him.
However, your point is well taken, and it is a sort of amorphous lacuna in the film which may not have happened maybe if there's been more time, more money, better luck in the research, or simply greater ability on my part as a filmmaker. In the end of every film you take a call on what you see as its completenesses, and accept that it won't be a definitive document!
As for what's happening to the girls - I never was in touch with the girls at the college in Faridabad, the ones who suffer so much sexual harrassment - I came upon them by chance and that was really the only time I ever met them but from common sense (and perhaps some sterotypical assumption) I assume many may already be married and not necessarily pursuing or exploring any other desires. But I know that some will definitely have begun, as you say, some journey of some discovery. I remember one of the girls came up to me after the interview and said - today was a very important day for me because I completely changed the way I feel as we were speaking and I realised how hypocritical I am being. I don't know what sort of credence to give a statement of that kind - it may well have been her need to impress someone from outside her context, or say something that sounded acceptable and PC. A bit of a teacher's pet type thing. But on the other hand, there may well have been a type of self reflexive process at work within her - where every experience and encounter sets off something.
I am in touch with some of the other girls - Richa and Ponni from the end and in a sense they are pursuing journeys as their natures seem. Both involved with activism, Ponni in a more defined way, Richa trying to figure it out, single-double-single-double style.
-- Paromita Vohra
Film description: UnLimited Girls is an exploration of engagements with feminism. Told through the conversations of a narrator called Fearless who starts accidentally in a chatroom and embarks on a journey where she encounters diverse characters, the film uses a personally reflective tone and playfully eclectic form, mixes non-fiction and fiction, to ask questions about feminism in our lives: why must women lead double lives, being feminist but not saying they are. How do we remain politically engaged as individuals who will not join groups? If feminism changes the way we live, then do we change the meaning of feminism as we live it? And then how do we separate true feminists from false ones? Will X-ray vision work better, or female intuition - or is there a common set of principles in this multiply interpreted philosophy? How do we make sense of love and anger, doubt and confusion, the personal and the political in this enterprise of pushing the boundaries, of being un-limited - the enterprise we call feminism.