Sponsored by The Barnard Center for Research on Women. We are grateful for additional support from the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, The Forum on Migration, MESAAS, The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia.
BOMBAY/MUMBAI STORIES: Films about Gender, Labor, and the Politics of Visibility
Part 1: Paromita Vohra
Bombay/Mumbai Stories explores questions of gender, labor, the politics of visibility, and subaltern public culture with Mumbai-based documentary film-makers Surabhi Sharma and Paromita Vohra.
Paromita Vohra will explore gender, the city, and vulnerability with clips from select films, accompanied by a screening of her award-winning documentary Q2P. Q2P is a film about toilets and the city. It sifts through the dream of Mumbai as a future Shanghai and searches for public toilets, watching who has to queue to pee. As the film observes who has access to toilets and who doesn’t, we begin to also see the imagination of gender that underlies the city’s shape, the constantly shifting boundaries between public and private space; we learn of small acts of survival that people in the city’s bottom half cobble together and quixotic ideas of social change that thrive with mixed results; we hear the silence that surrounds toilets and sense how similar it is to the silence that surrounds inequality. The toilet becomes a riddle with many answers and some of those answers are questions—about gender, about class, about caste and most of all about space, urban development and the twisted myth of the global metropolis.
Paromita Vohra is a filmmaker and writer. Her films as director include Partners in Crime (2011), Morality TV and the Loving Jehad (2007), Where’s Sandra (2005), Work In Progress (2004), Cosmopolis: Two Tales of A City (2004), Unlimited Girls (2001), (Women’s News Award, Women’s International Film Festival, Seoul), A Woman’s Place (1998), and Annapurna: Goddess of Food (1995). Her films as writer include the feature Khamosh Pani (Best Film, Locarno Film Festival; Best Screenplay, Kara Film Festival); and the documentaries A Few Things I Know About Her (Silver Conch, MIFF and National Award, Best Film), If You Pause: In A Museum of Craft and Skin Deep. She teaches writing for film at various universities and writes a popular newspaper column in the Sunday Midday.
The film’s producer PUKAR (Partners for Urban Knowledge, Action and Research) is a Mumbai based organization that creates a new space for critical engagement with the city, and seeks to contribute to a global debate about urbanization and globalization.
This event is part of BCRW’s Transnational Feminisms Initiative. These screenings are in conjunction with the seminar “Bombay/Mumbai and Its Urban Imaginaries.”