In this listicle, we present 5 remarkable South Asian films that tackle the pervasive issue of gender-based violence. From Bangladesh to Pakistan, India to Sri Lanka, these films delve deep into societal complexities, offering a transformative viewing experience that drives us to reflect, discuss, and take action against gender-based violence.
#1 Gargi by Gautham Ramachandran (2022)
India, Language: Tamil
Plot: Gargi, a school teacher on the brink of marriage, finds her life turned upside down when her father, a security guard, is falsely accused in a rape case. Gargi’s unwavering faith in her father’s innocence drives her to fight against all odds to free him. With an amateur lawyer by her side, will Gargi find the justice she seeks?
Watch it for? Gargi challenges assumptions and reveals an unsettling truth: perpetrators can hide in plain sight. Its nuanced storytelling highlights the profound consequences of sexual violence, not only for survivors and their families but also for the families of perpetrators. Sai Pallavi delivers an exceptionally brilliant performance. The film’s compelling visuals, editing and haunting score further intensify the tension.
Where to watch? You can watch Gargi on Sony LIV.
#2 Joyland by Saim Sadiq
Pakistan, Language: Urdu & Punjabi
Plot: As the traditional Rana family yearns for a baby boy to continue their family line, Haider, their youngest son, finds himself drawn to Biba, a strong-willed trans woman who runs a Bollywood-style burlesque. Their forbidden love story illuminates the family’s longing for sexual rebellion.
Watch it for? Its rare sensitivity in portraying female characters within the confines of a patriarchal world. Joyland captures the inner turmoil of individuals struggling to break free from societal expectations of gender, presenting a captivating exploration of repression, desire, and the complexities of identity. With its thought-provoking narrative and atmospheric storytelling, it offers a glimpse into a family torn between tradition and modernity, leaving their fate uncertain. Prepare to be heartbroken.
Where to watch? Joyland is not streaming anywhere currently. You can watch the trailer here.
#3 Kali Jotta by Vijay Kumar Arora
India, Language: Punjabi
Plot: In a repressive society, free-spirited Rabia’s love for Deedar takes a tragic turn, pushing her to the brink of madness. A student’s (Anant) discovery of Rabia’s diary sets in motion a quest to uncover the truth behind her shattered identity.
Watch it for? Neeru Bajwa’s tremendous performance and the songs by Satinder Sartaj. Special shoutout to Wamiqa Gabbi for playing Anant. Kali Jotta shows India’s apathy toward its women and the toll it takes on their mental health. It also shows Punjabi films have the caliber to become national. Overall, it sensitively explores themes of love, struggle, and the fight for personal freedom in a repressive patriarchal society.
Where to watch? You can watch Kail Jotta on Chaupal.
#4 28 by Prasanna Jayakody
Sri Lanka, Language: Sinhala
Plot: Three men undertake the solemn task of transporting the body of a deceased woman, known as Suddhi, in an old van (numbered 28) from Colombo to a remote village. Suddhi, a sex worker, was allegedly raped and murdered. The film explores the mystery surrounding her death as they journey to fulfill her final wish of being honoured by the family she once married into.
Watch it for? Despite occasional jokes that miss their mark and moments of stretching, 28 serves as an ode to women and the hypocrisy they endure at the hands of men. Director Jayakody skillfully avoids heavy-handed lecturing, instead portraying the harsh realities of sexual objectification through Iddamalgoda’s haunting performance. The film shatters the myth of moral tranquility in the village, exposing the vulgar excess and societal flaws.
Where to watch? 28 is not streaming anywhere currently. You can watch the trailer here.
#5 Moshari by Nuhash Humayun (2020)
Bangladesh, Language: Bengali
Plot: In a post-apocalyptic world, two orphaned sisters are forced to survive within a mosquito net (Moshari), protecting themselves from blood-sucking vampires, as well as each other.
Watch it for? Its Jump scares! This live action horror-fantasy short film is the first-ever Bangladeshi film to qualify for the Oscars. Moshari tackles the pervasive issue of sexual predators and pedophilia in Bangladeshi society while showcasing the resilience of women. The audience is urged to take a stand against gender violence and ensure a safer future for women.
Where to watch? You can watch Moshari on Youtube.
How many of these have you watched?
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