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Cinema And Literature: Two Art Forms That Build And Grow Together

Cinema and Literature are two distinct but equally extraordinary works of art. Where literature was a popular form of expression during the 18th and 19th century, cinema has taken its place by the 20th century onwards. Though both these arts have certain connections and differences, both have a similarity of taking its readers/audience to a different world.

Literature has been a way of artistic expression for centuries now. Writers have told tales about gods and goddesses, heroes and their valiant victories, historical epics, romantic tragedies, comic incidents, legendary episodes, and much more. Cinema is by far doing the same thing for quite a few years now. One major strong point in cinema, which is absent in literature, is the advantage of visually showing the whole picture on the screen that helps the audience connect with the moment more closely.

Literature takes its readers on a journey of imagination that is away from the real world while cinema shows such an imaginative world before the audience and they do not have to put much pressure on their minds to delve into their imaginations. They basically view the film through the imagination of the filmmakers.

To put it, in other words, we can say that literature is an art which is developed through writing while cinema brings to life those writings to life through sound, music, visuals, and actors. Literature has all the meanings hidden in itself that are used to develop a film. Though both are somehow interdependent, both need to be studied in order to completely understand a movie based on a piece of literature.

Moreover, literature has always been a great inspiration for cinema all over the world. In India, especially, epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana have been created and recreated on the silver screen several times. Novels of renowned Bengali writers, Gujarati writers, Urdu writers, and English writers are made into films every now and then.

Although it can easily be said that the first step of cinema is literature. Because once a film is in the process of making, it is the script, dialogues, and screenplay that are produced in order to develop it. The production and technical aspects are secondary in the process of filmmaking. Hence, it will not be wrong to say that literature initiated people to move on to cinema.

There is an extraordinary contribution of one art to the other. As history points out that it was all a world of tales and stories from where Aladdin, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Hatim Tai, Cinderella, Snow White, and The Prince and the Pauper originated. And from here cinema took its inspiration and developed films based on these stories or parts of these stories.

There have been several filmmakers who have adapted novels, plays, even poetry into films like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, Sarat Chandra Chatterjee’s Devdas, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey (On which films like Troy and Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? are based).

A Bengali filmmaker, Chidananda Dasgupta, explains about the adaptations of films from literature that certain characters and incidents from the literature may undergo changes, “but the very composition of the elements, the molecular structure if you like, would undergo a transmutation.”

The purpose of the film should not be a mere copy of the literature, rather it must have its own characteristics and techniques that are motivational enough for the audience to enjoy. Though in its literary form many can say that it is in the form of a screenplay of the film but it may not be right to look at a literary piece in such a way. It has an impression of reality even in the written form and once it comes on the silver screen it enhances its qualities to a greater extent than it does in the written form.

Language is another component that differs from a book and a film. Though there may be a similarity in the use of language in both the platforms, there are certain distinct disparities between the usage of language in literature and that in cinema. The relationship between time and space is also quite different from literature to cinema. While in literature an event is described as it has happened, films show as it is happening.

A film must not play the role of the literal visual representation of the book on which it is based. It must be a proper production that has been transformed from the words on paper to the dialogues on the celluloid.

The way both the medium expresses their meaning is where the similarity and the difference lie. Words are the only way to express but while a book has written words on it a film has audio speech which is somehow more powerful and life-like. In a film, a single scene is like a complete sentence or a series of sentences in a book. The power of audio and visual experience has a long lasting effort on the audience over the power of written words.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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