A woman handed over glasses of milk to two children, a boy and a girl. They could be siblings, the woman maybe their mother. The amount of milk in both glasses was considerably unequal. As you would expect, the boy got more milk. Now he does something unexpected. He takes the glass from the girl, pours milk into her glass from his own — making sure that they both received equal amounts.
This is the plot of the 10-second-long film Change by filmmaker Kiran Rao. Her husband, actor Aamir Khan had posted it on Instagram a week ago. Following this, many had lauded Rao and the film, for calling out the everyday patriarchy inside an Indian household. But at the same time, a few others had found something wrong with the film — the hero of this feminist film was a man.
A group of JNU students felt the same way and they decided to do something do about it. A week later, they came up with a 10-second-long film, as a response to Rao’s Change. The theme here is similar. Two children, a boy and a girl, are served milk. The quantity of milk in the boy’s glass is more. But here, the girl doesn’t wait for the boy to give her a part of his share. Instead, she takes his glass and pours some milk into hers, making sure that they’re both served equal amounts.
Watch the entire film here:
Released on June 26, the film is directed by Siddeeque Rasheed, an MA Arts and Aesthetics students in JNU. So, what was it that prompted these students to make this film? Siddique says, “A few days after Aamir Khan posted Change, a few of us had a discussion about the film celebrated men. A few people wrote about it on social media, but nobody seemed to know how to respond. So, we thought of coming up with a film, as this is the best way to respond.” This filmmaker who also believes that women should not be passive in their fight against patriarchy says that he and his group were adamant on limiting the film’s duration to 10 seconds.
Siddeeque spoke about how the mainstream narrative often shows an upper class male as the saviour of the downtrodden and the underprivileged. “Women’s empowerment is often portrayed as a result of male sympathy. The same applies in the fight against casteism too,” says Siddeeque, also pointing out the example of the film Article 15. “Article 15 has a Brahmin hero ’empowering’ the Dalits. That is the problem, the hero is always an upper caste male,” he says.
He adds that the group behind the film didn’t want to offend Rao, but instead wanted to reply in a friendly manner. He is also overwhelmed by the kind of response it has been receiving. “We have got more shares than what we expected. Most of the reviews are positive, but a few have told us not to overthink and view everything in a problematic manner,” says Siddeeque. Most of the crew are JNU students, while the Assistant Director, Durga, is a Delhi University student.