Pune: At 25 years of age, Fergusson College alumnus Shweta Ghosh already has a 'special mention' at the National Film Awards under her belt for her first documentary film - Accusex - that discusses issues of sexuality in differently abled women.
Why the choice of a lesser known and somewhat 'taboo' subject? "The point of this film was to bring out the question of the sexuality, beauty and body of persons with disabilities into a more public forum. It has hardly been approached in films. Person with disability has been projected either as heroic or a figure of sympathy. I was keen to employ a slightly different perspective," she says.
Daughter of Pune-based Shobhana and Samir Ghosh, Shweta's understanding of the subject and sensitivity enhanced as her father is differently abled.
But she is quick to add, "That's a big aspect, but not my only inspiration. Having worked with my parents, I came in close contact with many persons with disabilities whose stories inspired me."
Concurs her proud father who said he played a smaller role in the project and his wife Anagha who stayed up several nights thrashing out minor details. Ask him if he had any reservations to see his young daughter deal with subjects like sexuality, relationships and masturbation, he said, "In fact I am proud she has thought of some aspects that no one wants to discuss about a disabled person's life."
It was in 2000 that Shweta moved to Pune with her family from Jamshedpur and after college, moved to Mumbai's Tata Institute of Social Sciences for a Masters in Media and Cultural Studies. It was here that the idea of the film came to her but she couldn't find takers for a student film. It was in 2012 that she got a chance to work with Public Service Broadcasting Trust and the idea became a reality.
There were a few challenges though. One was to find people who were willing to speak about themselves, their negotiation with disability and normative notions of beauty, the ideal body, sexiness and what one should or should not be.
Sonali & Yogesh
"I was lucky to find the four women in the film — Natasha, Abha, Kanti and Sonali — within the short time I had in hand. Since the subjects discussed are private, I needed to respect whatever the storyteller was willing to reveal. In some places, I used illustrated story panels to tell certain things," she said.
Though she feels that it is difficult to pinpoint a certain message that the film is trying to give, according to her, it has started what she set out to achieve. "Through the various screenings in India and abroad, one thing has been common - people may have liked or disliked some aspects of the film, but it did put out some questions and start a discussion. That was the aim."