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Idhi Katha Matramena

25 min. Telugu.

This short improvised fiction film is affectionately called Yugantar’s ‘hit’ film. In the midst of the very active autonomous women’s movement in India, Yugantar collaborated with the research and feminist activist collective Stree Shakhti Sanghatana, provoked by an urgency to broaden discourses and political practice on domestic violence. Through an intense period of a consciousness raising style sharing of their own varied and multi-layered experiences of domestic violence, members of both collectives created a script that focuses on isolation and depression while also developing a complex female character in the process of articulating her situation and finding support in female friendship. Given the prescribed screen presence of female characters in other Indian fiction films at the time Idhi Katha Matramena radically expands the figure of woman as victim and subject. The film travelled extensively, spoke powerfully to diverse female audiences and sparked debates amongst feminist activists. Filmed within one week, with limited resources and enacted by members of the collectives, the film’s capacity to speak to multiple experiences appears equally strong today. (Nicole Wolf)

Production Yugantar. Production company Yugantar (Bangalore, India). Director Yugantar. Cinematography Navroze Contractor. Editing Lawrence. Sound Deepa Dhanraj. Digital restoration Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst. With Lalita K. (Wife), Poornachandra Rao (Husband), Rama Melkote (Friend).

Tambaku Chaakila Oob Ali / Tobacco Embers

25 min. Marathi.

Tambaku Chaakila Oob Ali documents, re-enacts, and takes forward one of the largest movements of unorganized labor of its time and context, which sparked unionizing processes across India throughout the 1980s. In the spirit of mobilizing for the leftist labor and the women’s movements the Yugantar collective spent four months with female tobacco factory workers in Nipani, Karnataka in India, listening to their accounts of exploitative working conditions, discussing strategies for unionizing and steps to broaden solidarities for strike actions, and filming previously unseen circumstances inside the factories. The team followed the workers’ leads as to what, where, and how their actions should be recorded, and developed a loose script through the workers’ narratives. Yugantar’s commitment to the complexity of political friendships and how to ‘stand with’ provoked a then pioneering collaborative filmmaking practice embodied in large scale reenactments, a voice-over as pluriverse testimony, and the production of the first screen presence of working-class women ‘speaking to power’. A powerful example of a feminist third cinema, now available to be revisited and to spread its film/political energies. (Nicole Wolf)

Yugantar was founded by Deepa Dhanraj, Abha Bhaiya, Navroze Contractor, and Meera Rao in 1980. Between 1980 and 1983, during a time of radical political transformation in India, Yugantar created four pioneering films together with existing or ensuing women’s groups.

Production Yugantar. Production company Yugantar (Bangalore, India). Director Yugantar. Cinematography Navroze Contractor. Sound G.V. Somas Hekhar. Digital restoration Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst.


1981: Molkarin / Maid Servant (25 min.). 1982: Tambaku Chaakila Oob Ali / Tobacco Embers. 1983: Idhi Katha Matramena / Is This Just a Story? (25 min.), Sudesha.

Photos: © Yugantar

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
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