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Interview Hindi

Men have to be incorporated into the feminist struggle: Aditya Kripalani on his latest film Devi Aur Hero

The writer-director's latest film is about a sex slave and a therapist, with sex addiction issues, who must fight their inner demons to help one another.

Sukhpreet Kahlon

Indie filmmaker and author Aditya Kripalani’s film Devi Aur Hero (2020) won the NETPAC Award at the Kolkata International Film Festival last year. Starring Chitrangada Satarupa and Vinay Sharma in the lead roles, the film is the story of a sex slave and a therapist with sex addiction issues, who come together through a series of events, and must battle their inner demons. 

Kripalani made his film debut with Tikli And Laxmi Bomb (2018), followed by Totta Pataaka Item Maal (2019). As the title of his latest film suggests, he is exploring the concept of a ‘Devi’ as well as the notion of a ‘Hero’ through an unusual subject matter.  

Speaking about his inspiration for the film, the director spoke about Macbeth’s greed as being a very interesting point that made him think about the character. “He [Macbeth] becomes Thane of Cawdor and his greed still pushes him further. Whereas, if he had stopped at Thane of Cawdor, he would have had the King’s love, he would have been in a powerful position and still have had his marriage. Everything would have been perfect. So that just stayed in my head as a thought and I was writing a story about two women - one is a psychiatrist and the other is a sex slave," he said.

Kriplani added, "Side by side, I wanted to talk about the male side to let’s say, all our current issues. Whether it is someone who sexualizes a woman who is entering a bus, which he should not be doing, or someone like in Monsoon Wedding, it is an uncle sexualizing a niece. If they fight an internal battle, they can stop it. It’s all in the space of something that you should deal with on the inside, you can’t let it manifest. So that was what I was thinking about. In all my films, I think, men come away feeling not so good about themselves and I just wanted to write a story where men can take something away.”

Devi Aur Hero concentrates on the internal struggle of the characters, who are fighting their demons. He said, “With this film, all I wanted to explore is that if a man is feeling something that he knows he should not be feeling, he has a way of understanding it…I was trying to create a similar situation for a sex addict, where if you come and see my film, you will feel that he really fights it hard. Majority of the film is about him fighting hard to get over himself so he can help others. I feel that men have to be incorporated into the feminist struggle. There is no way ahead without that…. Anyone watching the film, especially men, will be able to go through that catharsis vicariously, and hopefully, it affects their life in some way. I feel that cinema has that power and in the Indie cinema space, we can do these experiments.”

All Kriplani's films explore feminism, power and misogyny in some way and the themes recur. Talking about this, he said, “It is a manifestation of where I am coming from. So, if I am seeing feminism in a certain way, where men are bad and women are good…emotionally that’s where you are… There were all these questions in my mind and that’s where the stories came from. So, these themes come into my films because I am personally trying to understand them. And after the MeToo movement, what really interested me was getting into the head of someone who is in that space in his life and he should be dealing with it and solving it. As a feminist man, I thought that it was the best thing that I could do… I feel that my films deal with the issues that I myself am trying to understand.” 

Kripalani has started working on his next film, which is also looks at the issue of mental health and is based on the prevention of suicide.