Interview With The Makers Of ‘Face It’ – A Documentary On Acid Attacks And Gender Abuse

Posted on August 2, 2012 in Interviews, Society, The Opinionated

When a group of young students in Mumbai decided to make a documentary, they had no idea they would end up taking ‘acid attacks’ as a key issue highlighting what the victim goes through, and the attacker intends. A few months hence, we got a chance to speak to the team. Check out the 14 minute documentary, and the interview below.

What prompted you guys to make “Face it”? We heard that your original subject was something else. So how did the idea of Face It come about?

Well, to begin with I read an article in OPEN magazine on victims who had suffered facial disfigurement in acts of domestic violence, where they interviewed two burn victims; one was an acid attack victim and the other was a burn attack victim, also shown in our film. So, from there on we picked up the topic and went with it.

What prompted us to this particular topic was the gravity of the problem specially in a society like ours. This is a very serious problem in our country and no efforts are being put into it to make people aware about this and to stop this crime. The effect of such an act is huge on the victim and changes the life of the victim completely. Some people die due the trauma but those who survive, find it very difficult to fight back and stand up themselves in the society. They are mostly shunned in society due to the their facial disfigurement and hence rejected, because of which they have no choice but to hide behind four walls.

We wanted to make people aware about this heinous crime, through the story of a victim, who has gone through such trauma and has managed to come out of it as well. This is where we met Sneha Jawale and after listening to her story, we were more than convinced that hers is a story that needs a voice and a platform. Hence we took up her story and conveyed what we wanted to through her.

What were your realizations and learning after making the documentary?

On the face of it this can be considered as another case of domestic violence amongst so many happening around us. But, when you go into the problem of burn attacks, its far more severe and damaging than it looks from the outside. This is one of the worst ways of damaging one’s life. It has an impact beyond repair. This was the first thing we learnt when we started working on it. I would like to confess that we were naïve enough to think that we knew everything about the topic, but we only knew what everybody else knows. It was our research that changed our perspective towards the topic and made us more aware. It made us challenge our own ideas and concepts about beauty and normalcy, it challenged our idea of what is normal and what is abnormal. We were pushed towards the wall to break the concept, which is embedded in our brains right from childhood about beauty — “whatever looks good from outside is beautiful.” We are glad that we made this film because it has surely opened our perspective towards life and society in general.

The documentary brings to light two major issues – domestic violence, and gender abuse (acid violence against women, in specific). How big do you think is the scale of this problem? Also, after meeting the victim, the experts and various other people, how do you see a solution to this problem?

The documentary brings a major problem of violence against women, to the fore, which is a huge problem in a patriarchal society like India. We still are heavily influenced by patriarchal thoughts and ideas, which therefore leads to such acts. Women have been considered as a weaker sex, which gives men the freedom and power to subjugate women if they don’t listen to or obey them. They want women to be under their control and will do anything possible for this, and hence they take the help of violence.
After meeting with experts and various other people, we came to the conclusion that a problem like this can only be tackled through stricter laws. In India there are no laws against burn attacks and hence the attackers walk away scot free, leaving behind scars on the victims face, body, mind and spirit. Hence stricter laws is one of the solutions for such a heinous crime. Also, what we think is that the right kind of education right from our childhood will help a lot. What we become is mostly dependent upon what we are taught in our childhood. Hence to tackle this problem properly, we need to go our roots and correct them.

You also covered the perspective of the attacker. Could you sum up for us, what you learnt about the perspective that an attacker has?

Attackers have only one motive, and that is to destroy the person’s identity. And they do this either by burning that person or by throwing acid at them. The reason can be anything – a girl refusing a man’s proposal for marriage or her asking for a divorce, land disputes or any other reason. Their motive is to teach women a lesson and to subjugate them. And since acid is readily available, it becomes a very cheap way for attackers to make their point.

How long did it take for you to make the movie? Was it emotionally burdening seeing such a violent issue?

It took us couple of months to make this film. The whole research behind this film took a very long time. Convincing people to come in front of the camera was tough, although we are fortunate that Sneha Jawale was ready to face the camera and was not even one percent hesitant.

This film was a real challenge for all of us not just production wise but also personally to each one of us. It was sometimes difficult to hear such stories and was emotionally taxing. But then that’s the job of a documentary filmmaker, to hear their stories and to present them to the world in utmost honesty and sincerity and that is what we tried to do through ‘Face it.”

What is your message for our readers?

I would just like to tell you that this is not just a film on domestic violence. This film goes beyond the violence and explores the concept of beauty in our Indian society. This is a story of courage, determination, will-power and fortitude of Sneha Jawale who has triumphed over the biggest tragedy of her life and has come out of her struggle so beautifully. Today she leads an independent and respectable life full of enthusiasm and zeal.

This film is made by:

Siddhant Malhotra
Rachita Gorowala
Radhika Sirkhell
Ambarish Patil
Ishita Dasgupta
Aanandita Chawla