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Bijli Giri light-heartedly chronicles the invention of electric bra

Inspired by the life of Manisha Mohan, inventor of the electric bra, student film Bijli Giri captivated the audience at WIFF 2017.

Ramna Walia

This year the Woodpecker International Film Festival has hosted a number of emerging filmmakers, with a wide range of student films in its selection. One such film screened last night, Bijli Giri, was received by a round of applause by the audience.

Bijli Giri is a short collaborative fiction film by students of the Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi.

The film is inspired by headline-grabbing invention of an electric bra by an aeronautical engineering student from Chennai, Manisha Mohan.

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Manisha was triggered by the Delhi gang rape and the apathy of law-makers to rein in the menace of eve-teasers and potential rapists. She with her fellow students decided to design a bra that can cause an electric shock of 3800kv, powerful enough to cause burns.

Director, Arnav Nanduri and his team spoke about how Manisha’s story inspired them to make a documentary on the subject.

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Manisha, however, was not available in India, as she has moved on to pursue her studies at the prestigious MIT in the United States. Drawn to this subject, the young team of filmmakers, initially distraught by the inventor’s unavailability for a documentary, decided to fictionalize the story.

In Bijli Giri, we meet Karishma, a kick-ass aeronautical engineering student who devises the electric bra in a neighborhood riddled with eve-teasing and assault.

Karishma decides to design the electric bra with the help of a local tailor, after her friend is attacked by goons. The film tracks the transition in the life of the neighbourhood women.

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For a film that deals with the serious issue of eve-teasing and everyday violence and censorship that women face in India, the film is surprisingly light-hearted.

Manjula Negi, managing director, WIFF, contends that this tone, “points to the subtle way of conveying the message”. A fast-paced narrative is captivating and the message is strong.

Discussing the film at WIFF he said, “we were drawn to the subject of secret, what happens when a product as secret as an undergarment was used as defense technology and in circulation”.

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He went on to add, “(Manisha) Mohan had taken the most sexualized item for women and turned it into a weapon”.

Just as Karishma in the film turns the most mundane, everyday object into a powerful weapon, so does the film. Big messages come in small packages indeed!

Bijli Giri was screened at the Woodpecker International Film Festival on 10 November, 6.30pm, Siri Fort Auditorium-III.

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Woodpecker International Film Festival