A Short Film That Reveals Why Bald Women Make Indian Society Uncomfortable

Posted by Ashima Madan in Body Image, Video
December 4, 2016

“Ganji” is a documentary film on bald women and their interpretation in a society obsessed with hair.

With a woman’s identity often expressed as a daughter, sister, wife, daughter-in-law, mother – in relation with the man who is ‘in-charge’ of her— it is interesting to observe how the power equations work when it comes to a non-living part of her body.

The makers of “Ganji” L to R: Plaksha, Ashima, Aashna, Prabha and Aakanksha

Hair, over the ages, has picked up many social connotations about the physical and mental state of an individual, as has its loss. “Ganji” tries to trace possible reasons and concepts related to the same, over the timeline of Indian culture and history through the narratives of four women.

Interlocked in a patriarchal set up with a common strand of hair, these women have unique stories to tell – each revealing some unexpected facts about human nature, societal fixation with topics of zilch relevance and most importantly our own self. This becomes the focal point of our film as the idea is not to understand hair and beauty but to contest our limited horizons while perceiving people, while judging them based on preconceived notions. The film borrows the spectacle of hair through which greater problems of patriarchy are discovered.

As I think of this journey, one incident particularly crosses my mind. While we were naming the film, we thought of several options – ‘Clean Bald’ was our working title. Then we thought of many many names till there were no synonyms and phrases left. It had been an exhaustive list. But it suddenly struck us that a bald woman is called ganji in Hindi so why are we not comfortable with that name? It sounds funny, and colloquially used to mildly abuse a woman. Pretty much everything we didn’t agree with.

Yes, this is it, we decided. Nobody should end up watching the film with ganji as a bad word in their mind.