Daughter's day out

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | March 21, 2011
Raising the issue of gender bias and preference towards the male child in Indian families, Mudra North has created a film for the Centre for Social Research, with the help of eunuchs.

Define hypocrisy! In a country where the woman is celebrated and even worshipped, in many Indian homes, the male child is still preferred over the female. It's a sorry state of affairs. And, even more horrific is the issue of female foeticide, which is quite rampant in parts of the country.

Mudra North has raised its voice against the issue. It has created a film for the Centre for Social Research (CSR), a non-governmental organisation based in New Delhi, which is dedicated to creating a violence-free, gender-just society.

The film is somewhat unique, as it has a story that involves eunuchs, who are considered pariahs in Indian society.

The film opens with a man entering a colony of eunuchs. Teased endlessly, he continues to walk further looking for a particular eunuch. On meeting her, he initiates a conversation to remind her that she had visited his home fifteen years ago when his daughter was born and that he had then sent her away empty-handed.

The man takes out a bundle of notes and hands it to the eunuch telling her that it was about time he set things right.

It ends with a voiceover saying that your daughter will make you proud one day, and that you should treat her second to none.

The spot is based on the belief that all a girl needs is a chance, given which, there is little that could stop her from achieving all she wants.

Sudeep Bandopadhyay has directed the film. The creative team at Mudra includes chief creative officer Bobby Pawar, executive creative director Nirmal Pulickal, associate creative director Radhika Kapur, and group head (art) Saurabh Dawar.

The film is being used by CSR for its on-field programmes and has been recognised internationally, as well. The agency also depended a lot on social networking websites to extend the ad's reach.

Why Eunuchs?

The idea of using eunuchs in the film is based on the simple tradition of how eunuchs' visits to people's homes on happy occasions such as the birth of a child is considered auspicious -- a belief laced with irony, considering the marginalised existence of the community in our society.

When eunuchs negotiate the amount of money to be given to them in return for their blessings, it has been often seen that the 'going rate' is lesser when a girl child is born. The team conceived the idea of sending out this message, based on this insight.

Says Pulickal, "At one level, they (eunuchs) are an oddity. However, as a culture, we embrace everything in India. Eunuchs, too, have become a part of the melting pot. They are a part of our rituals and are even considered lucky."

He further adds, "The film grips you that way. You wonder what the man is doing. And, then the twist in the story hits you and you are left smiling. It is real."

According to Bandyopadhyay, shooting with eunuchs sounds scary, but it was surprisingly smooth. "Obviously, we could not shoot in a real colony because of possible violence. So, we found a similar set-up and brought in the gang," says he.

Creative Speak

Kapur tells afaqs! that the idea for the creative was conceived based on a real-life incident. She had once seen a neighbour negotiating with a eunuch who had arrived upon the birth of a child, saying that it was 'only a girl child'.

"It is an issue close to my heart. It is really scary to hear so much about female foeticide, particularly in regions such as Delhi, Punjab and Haryana. Short stories like these help. And, this is a story that every single person can relate to," says Kapur.

Pulickal adds that besides the emotional aspect of the film that is rooted in the Indian insight, he finds a lot of artistic merit in the spot, too.

"Consider eunuchs. There is something very visceral there, and yet, it is interesting. Even if one had to go to such a colony to do still photography, the results would be rather intriguing. I think we have been able to capture that in the film," says Pulickal.

A Few Words of Appreciation

When approached, industry professionals approved of the film, keeping in mind its intent and execution.

Sujit Nair, executive director, Lowe Lintas Mumbai, thinks the film is subtle and effective.

"I think it is a fantastic film. The way the message, an important one, has been conveyed with emotions and simplicity is great. It is subtle and effective, particularly with the metros and Tier I and II city target segments," says Nair.

While he approves of the creative strategy, Nair is also of the view that the execution could be slightly upmarket for a rural audience.

Rahul Jauhari, national creative director, Everest Brand Solutions, is positive in his views.

"I totally support this film. It's a simple thought and it drives home the point beautifully. It takes the issue head on and the argument is compelling. From a purely creative perspective, there is enough in the film to keep you waiting to see what will happen," says Jauhari.

"The casting is apt, and thankfully does not sound or look like a typical 'Public Service Initiative' film," he adds.

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