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Spectre of a world without women



A scene from `Mathrubhumi: A Nation Without Women'.

THAT THE girl child faces discrimination in every walk of life is all too well known. But when it comes to light that around 35 million girl children are missing from the country's population that calls for serious introspection. A fact that made Manish Jha and Boney Kapoor sit up and make a film: "Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women".

The film has not only got a rave review in Time magazine but also won awards at many film festivals - at Venice 2003, Kozlin Film Festival, Thessaloniki Film Festival and Florence 2003.

For the director of "Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women", Manish Jha, the subject of female infanticide was something he could easily relate to. Brought up in Bihar, he is aware of the ghastly happenings there. So he wrote a script about a futuristic rural India where women become extinct as a result of the gory practice. The film has given him a canvas to depict polyandry and atrocities committed against hapless women.

Jha has used his craft - which he had perfected while making a short film, "A Very Very Silent Film" - to good effect. He shot the ``Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women" in Madhya Pradesh's Harda district and cast Delhi's theatre artistes -Tulip Joshi, Sudhir Pandey, Sushant Singh, Aditya Shrivastav, Piyush Mishra and Deepak Bandhu -who have done full justice to their roles

At the screening of the film at the Films Division Auditorium here on Monday, a buoyant Jha said: "Extreme practices like female infanticide are happening even now and will continue to happen. I have lived in Bihar and am aware of the problems there. Even in urban areas the sex ratio statistics is disturbing. In Delhi, there are 850 women to 1,000 men. If this trend continues, then we will have an imbalance. Advanced technologies like the ultrasound are working against us."

The film was presented by Boney Kapoor and his wife Sridevi. He said: "If India is really shining then such worrisome statistics shouldn't be there. The report by the Ministry of Health that 35 million girls have been missing from the population of India is a disturbing sign.

The number is equivalent to the population of Canada. I have depicted a village without women. The practice of female infanticide in rural areas is alarming. The idea isn't to preach but to make urban people aware about what is occurring in rural India."

Saying that he is neither heading an NGO nor is he a social activist, he said:"I would like to show this film to the Information and Broadcasting Minister, Sushma Swaraj, and all parliamentarians. Unfortunately, Parliament has been dissolved."

By Madhur Tankha

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