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Director Deepthi Tadanki talks about her new film Satyavati

Deepthi Tadanki

In India parents are using corrective rape to ‘cure’ their gay children.

Hyderabadi filmmaker Deepthi Tadanki’s upcoming film, Satyavati, deals with the subject of corrective rape. The film is based on some “shocking real life instances” that took place in Bangalore.

AJ: How did you get started in filmmaking?
Deepthi: First of all, any creative individual wants an audience. We like telling stories. Even better when the story can have a voice and make a difference. Indie films give you that freedom where you can focus all your energy on the content rather than a star or a formula. As a director, I can completely address my script in a way that I think is right. I can tell my story in the most engaging and entertaining manner yet stay true to the core idea.

AJ: What draws you to a particular subject?
Deepthi: The need to tell the truth although this film is a work of fiction and not a documentary. The primal focus of making this film is to let the audience understand that lesbianism is not a disease that needs to be cured; it is as natural as heterosexuality.

AJ: How did your latest film about corrective rape, Satyavati, come about?
Deepthi: I stumbled upon an article while browsing the web on a rape that took place in South Africa, the atrocities of which left a deep impact on me . After reading the article I decided to delve deeper in the practice of corrective rape and I came to realise that India is no exception to this heinous practice. I tried to reach out to quite a few member of the LGBT communities of different states in India, through which I came to realise that the horrific crime is committed by none other than the family members of the victims . During my research I came to realise that the rapes and crimes committed against the victims in South Africa were done mostly by outsiders as their whole society has approved of this
practice, whereas in India, what is worse, is that the crime is committed by the very own family of the victims so as to suppress the issue. People are more private about it to avoid tarnishing of the family name which is held very high in Indian society, within the orthodox walls of a society which is constructed by our very own.

AJ: What research did you do for the film?
Deepthi: When I was researching on this subject for my film, I came across two gut wrenching stories of corrective rape — one, where a gay girl was raped by her cousin so that she could be ‘cured’ of homosexuality, and another, where family members forced a gay boy to have sex with his mother, in a bid to turn him straight.

While trying to speak to victims about the issue, I was also able to communicate with only two such victims who went through the ordeal and were ready to speak up, but not entirely share the horrors of the crime they were victim to, as the scars were still fresh in their minds and I did not want to make them relive those painful moments for my selfish reasons .

I spoke to many people from the LGBT community in Hyderabad, Bombay and Bangalore personally and people from other places through emails and over the phone.

AJ: How did you shoot the film?
Deepthi: We are using canon 1DC camera and the entire footage will be chronicled on live sound recording &
thereafter the editing shall follow.

AJ: Do you think educating the mass is a solution to the way gay women and men are treated in society?
Deepthi: I want to shed light on this issue and let people know about the atrocities faced by the LGBT community. Basically, create a support system for them in society, open minds, and create an easier and more comfortable environment for them to live in. Rape is rape and is not justifiable. It is a crime and should be addressed. Indian cinema remains male-dominated and gender prejudiced.

AJ: What were the challenges that you faced while making this film?
Deepthi: I cannot comment on the gender based and male dominated aspect of our cinema, as we are still going through with post production. As the time will come to approach the censor board and other such bodies, only then will I be able to speak about this.

AJ: Where do you mostly get the funding for your documentaries?
Deepthi: For this film the LGBT community has been very supportive and helped raise awareness, yet the financial aspect was not addressed and has been overlooked completely. Through my own contacts 30% of production costs has been met and I started a crowdfunding campaign for the rest.

AJ: What kind of reaction are you looking forward to receiving in India?
Deepthi: The biggest triumph for me would be the censor board approving of my film for a theatrical release in
India.

AJ: Any advice to people doing their first documentary or film?                                                                    Deepthi: Get a lot of help. I am learning a lot every day. It has been a hard fought journey ensuring my film gets
made. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Get people to help you with research and planning and organisation. It will be rewarding in the end.

AJ: Thank you for talking to me and for raising awareness of this awful crime.

For further information visit: www.satyavati.in

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