As the world celebrates Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28) to highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management, a short film - First Period - is creating quite a stir in India.
The film, directed by Mozez Singh, highlights the multidimensional issues regarding the menstrual cycle of women in a unique way. It portrays a surreal world with only men and them going through the monthly biological process.
Mozez Singh, who has also written and produced the film, talks to International Business Times India about his experience while working on the rather unusual project.
IBTimes India: What motivated you to make the short film First Period?
Mozez: I was approached by the NGO Dasra to direct this film. They in association with the Gates Foundation were keen to make a film where men are involved in the conversation about Menstrual Hygiene. So my writer Ishani Banerji came up with the story for the film and then we read a lot of data on the issue and became super sensitised and aware of it and went ahead with this film.
IBT: How was it working with the child actors on such a strong topic? Did you have to explain menstruation to them?
Mozez: It was daunting to work with kids on this film. They had a very flimsy and basic knowledge about menstruation. I requested their parents to inform them about the issue before I started shooting with them. Once they understood the issue they were very confident and spontaneous. Kids are amazing to work with and as a director, I look forward to working with kids.
IBT: What do you think as a society we should do to remove the taboos regarding menstruation?
Mozez: The best way to remove the taboos associated with Menstruation is to normalise the issue, to make people understand that it is something that is a normal bodily function for women and to provide the right kind of infrastructure and medical aid for all those who have suffered from it.
IBT: Your film is already receiving praises, how do you feel?
Mozez: Yes Twinkle's support has been incredible for the film. She has written about this issue and made a feature film on it and has been a very inspiring voice in the conversation about menstrual hygiene. I'm eternally grateful to her for having supported First Period.
Dasra, founded in 1999, is a pioneering strategic philanthropic foundation. It aims to transform India where people live with dignity and equity and it has been driving collaborative action through powerful partnerships among a trust-based network of stakeholders, like corporates, foundations, families, nonprofits, social businesses, government, and media.
Menstruation is still a hush-hush topic in India, shrouded in superstitions and taboos. According to UKAid and Unicef, while only 13 percent of girls in India are aware of menstruation before their first period, 10 percent considers it as a disease. Girls, mostly in villages, and all still use home-grown alternatives like old fabric, rags, sand, ash, wood shaving, and newspapers during their period.