Monday, May 16, 2016

Is abusing others, freedom of speech?

Ages since I blogged, no excuses...just laziness to peg my thoughts...
For a few months now I have been very concerned about the 'Tolerance' debate, great people have returned awards, there have been a lot of talk all round about the increasing 'intolerance' shown by the present Government. There are state governments who are interfering with people's food habits...etc. All these are definitely a matter of serious concern.

But to me a more serious concern is the way people behave on the social networking platforms. If one does not agree with a particular viewpoint, there are people who will become very nasty and mean start a personalized attack on the person questioning their integrity and their credibility all because they differed from what you had to say. I faced it couple of times this year and last year, when some posts I made had people agreeing and disagreeing. But some of the persons who differed would not leave it at that, they would start personally attacking even said "after she has got her padmashree she has become right wing" or "how much was I paid to make the comment" or "worst still if you running a NGO just do that" one woman even said "I used to respect her, now I don't".

I am baffled and wonder what riggers such mean aggression. I have seen people calling other names in such derogatory fashion that you actually cringe. Can you not state a point without abusing somebody? Is this not intolerance? I understand freedom of speech and the need for it. I have travelled to China and many other countries where freedom of speech is greatly curtailed....But does freedom of speech means you abuse anybody and everybody and call them names...all because you do not agree with a particular perspective.

Social media has taken visibility to greater heights. Today if people like me are known even among a few, it is because of this dynamic platform. I use it, respect it and nurture it as tool for me to connect with the larger world.  Whether I am impacting anybody here or not is something that I am not seriously concerned, but definitely I use this platform to share my thoughts and my opinion...maybe some of it may have a wrong timing...maybe I have my own agenda to do the same...but of late I am becoming a little wary of this platform and have started thinking that suppose my honest opinion about something is not appreciated by somebody, I may not just get a differing opinion, which of course is truly enlightening for me, as many a times these differing thoughts have made me look at the same issue from a different way...but I may be abused and my integrity might be questioned...

Is it that we don't know how to differ? or we feel anonymity grants us the freedom to use a language and expression which can be very hurting and painful...

As much as the world pays attention and respects to my comments, I also do the same to the world and maybe that is why I read offensive comments about me as much as I read the ones that appreciate me..


Saturday, February 21, 2015


I was just reading some old posts of mine and felt compelled to update my readers on the latest on several issues I had raised.

First of all "Naa Bangaaru Talli"(my dearest daughter) our telugu film on sex trafficking was released in November 2014. It is truly an honor and pride to declare that we released the film by crowd-funding, a first of its kind in the Tollywood industry. It is also an indication of the extraordinary love and support we have received from our friends and well-wishers from all over the world. 546 donors from across the world donated 35 lakhs which was used to release the film in 40 theaters in Andhra Pradesh & Telangana. Here I need to also express my heartfelt gratitude to and Reliance Entertainment. Milap for facilitating the crowd funding and Reliance for being my release partner. And Sanjay Maswan thank you so much for connecting me to Milap.

Some other people like Mega star Chiranjeevi and actress Samantha Prabhu raised the bar of visibility of the film to such heights that was completely unimaginable to me or Rajesh. MAA TV came to our rescue thanks to Amala Akkineni who entered our lives as an angel to tangibly show us the conspiracy of Universe. She sowed the seed of crowd funding in my head, she also pushed the top honchos of MAA TV to watch the movie which ended in the satellite rights being sold. So some revenue raised.
If I do not mention the support of my friend Kannan and his team at Mentorware, I will be committing a  gross injustice. This is a friendship of unconditional love, and everyday from the day they came into my life,I have thanked God for the beauty and generosity of universe.

Well the movie created history of sorts, it was the first telugu film in the last 23 years to get 3 national awards. It also won 5 international awards. But the real award was when the movie ran in packed theaters in Andhra Pradesh & Telangana for 6 weeks. As the number of theaters were less it cannot be called a commercial success as we did not recover our money. But what we got, money cannot buy!

For those who missed the film please watch it on 8th March on MAA TV. I will definitely ensure that the movie will reach the remotest part of telugu speaking communities by this year end.

From movies to human rights. Many of my blogs in the last many months have spoken about the attacks we were facing. As a Human Rights Defender it always bothered me that the society at large did not really value good work. It was easy for them to chase a grease painted reel hero to a real hero fighting injustices in the society. I got an opportunity to vent out my feelings as a speaker at the National Human Rights Commission workshop for Human Rights Defenders. I recommended the following:
1. A national declaration on Human Rights Defenders by National Human Rights Commission(NHRC), acknowledging and valuing their work.
2.A First Response Mechanism within NHRC to swiftly respond to Human Rights Defenders when they are in danger, witch-hunted or are in situation where solidarity by a credible National Human Rights Body is the need of the hour.
3. "Assault Alarm" a technology driven wrist band that will through GPS tracking send distress signals to public through social media and other mechanism when there is a physical threat to a life of a Human Rights Defender.
4. Human Rights Defenders Day to celebrate the work of unsung defenders and also acknowledge their vulnerabilities.
5. Nurturing and building the capacities of Human Rights Defenders on Secure Communication, Physical safety, Digital safety etc
6. Emergency Fund within NHRC to support Human Rights Defenders who need medical support, relocation support.
Barring the first one all other recommendations reflected in the final recommendations.

Well with #ShameTheRapistCampaign and all other interventions I am already involved with I feel the need to constantly update and ensure the right information is with you regarding what  I am doing in my own words. 
Living for the moment and loving every second of it, I cherish the fact that I am investing my life the right way. 


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

# ShameTheRapistCampaign

It was 4th Feb 2015, a Wednesday. I had just come back from work late in the evening when I got a frantic call from a young man whom I had met in one of my lecture sessions. His voice was troubled and he sounded in deep distress. He told me that he had gone to visit his cousin at his office on that day when his cousin told him about two videos he had received on ‘whatsapp’. When he saw the videos his blood curled. Not knowing what to do he had called me. I told him to send me the videos. I also cautioned him that many morphed videos are also on the rounds and with so much pornography  all kinds of things are passed around.
Within half an hour both the videos reached me. I had a shock of my life when I viewed the videos. For a minutes I was nauseated. Two videos, one 8.5 mins long of a gang rape of a girl by five men and another 4.5 mins long of rape of a girl by a man. Both the videos were being recorded by somebody else whom the men were aware of but that person’s face is not captured. What was shocking was the look on the faces of all the six young men, whom now I would like to call as “rapist”, in any case they were flaunting their dastardly act. They were all smiling and making snide remarks. One guy was even masturbating while the other was raping the girl. The impunity of the act was mind boggling. Not only these lowly creatures had committed the worst form of violation but they also had the audacity to flaunt it and disseminate it in a public domain.
To me this was not only a slap on the criminal justice system but also on everyone who has even a small iota of humanity left in them. What gave these creatures the confidence to blow their trumpet about something which I would call the worst form of human rights violation.
And then I decided ENOUGH IS ENOUGH…this is a war and we need to fight it with the right strategy. For too many centuries the victim has been shamed, victimized, isolated, ostracized and stigmatized for a crime she has never committed. For too long the world at large chose to remain silent on the perpetrators and abusers. The result, we have created an enabling environment of impunity. This combined with our criminal justice system which has repeatedly failed in rising up to the occasion to create deterrence has completed the cycle of lawlessness. 
Today men committing such heinous crimes, have no remorse or guilt, on the contrary they celebrate their brutality with sickening mentality. Equally shocking is the fact that many of us have such disgusting voyeuristic tastes that we have not only viewed such videos but also helped these rascals in spreading the message.
On Thursday 5th Feb 2015 at 2.30pm I started #ShameTheRapistCampaign, I edited these videos, made it to 1 minute and 30 secs, blurred the images of the victim completely, highlighted the faces of the rapist, ensuring that people who see the video may get an idea of the region/locality by the languages these guys were speaking. It was obvious to me that it was not in South India.  I posted these videos on ‘youtube’ and launched my campaign to trace these rapist, shame them and hand over them to the authorities. In a couple of hours comments from all over the world started pouring in supporting the campaign. Most friends from media were silent, maybe they had not seen it, but NDTV spotted it and decided to support my campaign.
Next day ie 6th Feb 2015 at 9.30am I spoke about the campaign live on NDTV. Within minutes my car was vandalized.  I do not know whether to connect these two or not. I have done enough in my life to antagonize hundreds of people. I have been battling against the organized crime of sex trafficking for the last two decades. I am not in dearth of enemies.  But the campaign was already 12 hours old, so definitely there is a niggling feeling that somewhere it could be connected. Maybe not the men I am exposing, but others who have committed similar crimes and are presuming that I may have their videos too!
Thanks to the vandals, the campaign got a greater boost( every adversity has an opportunity). Media was all around me reporting the campaign. The campaign to me is going in the right direction as I received hundreds of mails and messages supporting it.  I also started receiving some other videos from all over the country. Around 11 mails came identifying one of the rapist. Many mails and calls came informing me that they had already seen these videos many months back.
Ofcourse I also got a lot of offensive pornographic mails, which felt as if they were saying “catch me if you can”. I even filed a case in the cyber cell. In the meantime the local police came and took the two videos for further investigation.  
My intention was not to just start a campaign on social media, but also to advocate for a mechanism to tackle this entire issue. So on my front I decided to take up the issue at the following levels:

1.     Request for a CBI probe on all the videos I was handing over to the Ministry of Home Affairs.(Apart from the first two videos, I had also recieved many others)
2.     Recommend to set up a task force in the Home Ministry to tackle sexual crimes.
3.     To create public friendly anonymous system where citizens can report such crimes within the Home Ministry.
4.     To set up a National Sex Offenders Directory of convicted sex offenders. This will not only name & shame convicted offenders, citizen will also get face to the offense. This is already in practice in many countries.
5.     Ministry of Home Affairs to have an agreement with youtube and ‘whatsapp’ to pass on any such offensive videos and to take it up suo motto.

With great difficulty I managed to get an appointment with the Home Secretary,Govt Of India whom I appraised him of the situation and also give in writing all my recommendations. For whatever it is worth it, he did give me a fair hearing and said all the right things. But till I do not see any real action, I will take all this with a pinch of salt.  In any case I have kept my backup plan ready.

In the meantime I also started hearing a lot of criticism about my campaign. In the beginning I was not able to fathom what was really hassling them. What could anyone have against ‘shaming a rapist’ who was already flaunting his crime?
But then slowly I realized many of the criticisms were about the video I had posted. It was pointed out that I had ignored the plight of the victims when they see such videos being played on ‘youtube’. It would amount to re-traumatization. Fair enough! But my question is when these videos were being passed around across the country with the faces of the victims for everybody to see, why did people not protest at that time. A good number of people who wrote to me told me they already seen these videos many months back. And these were people from various part of the country.
Was my blurring the faces of the victim a problem? Were people offended as they could see the act, but were able to see only the sinister laughs of these men.

Definitely I empathize with the pain of the victim. Having survived it myself and also after taking care of hundreds of such victims. But the fight for justice is not going to be a pleasant one. Especially in a context when the rapist/abuser does not even feel an iota of shame or remorse, but the victim is made to feel  shame & guilt in abundance. Till date the civil society has not even articulated their stand against the rapists/sex offenders/abusers. In any case we have collectively failed in creating an environment of deterrence and shame for the abuser….and I feel such a campaign is the first step towards it.

I am also aware that this can be misused. Men & woman have the capacity to misuse. Just because a person is born a woman, it does not mean she might not have criminal tendencies or she is holier than thou. There is a small but significant number of fake rape cases also reported. I hope in the course of time as this campaign spreads we will have more and more people applying their mind to ensure how these kind of campaigns are not misused and innocent human beings are not harassed.
I request your suggestions to make this campaign stronger and powerful…lets together be part of a movement to make this world a safe place for all of us.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


This has been one of the most traumatic week of my life time. A mob attack from within!!!
 A few weeks back, 7 girls rescued by Gopalapuram police,Secunderabad were admitted in our shelter through court order. In just 3 days we were uncomfortable with these women, there was something sinister about them. This was further reinforced when 30 other girls who were cheery and full of life, willing to learn new trades started showing signs of hostility. In a few hours we realized that these were 7 traffickers posing as victims…in essence infiltrators and the 30 girls belonged to their gang.
I immediately informed the concerned court, and the magistrate was clueless on what has to be done as the police had shown these women as victims in their FIR.
Although we were alert and for weeks together there was no sign of any trouble…what we did not realize is that a huge conspiracy was being hatched.
Last week on Durgashtami day, these 37 instigated another 100 and mobbed the shelter from within…unimaginable violence, 5-6lakh worth property was damaged(truck, tata sumo all vehicles including)  and 16 people were injured including 4 staff. As the girls slashed others with broken pieces of glasses and stoned the shelter…over 300 others were shivering with fright and praying for their lives.
They had planned to do this on a day when I am not in town and they had presumed that I was traveling to Delhi. Unfortunately for them my plans had changed and I was very much in the city. I was able to mobilize police support and start from Hyderabad immediately(shelter is 65 kms from Hyderabad). With the timely support of the local police who mobilized force from nearby stations we were able to control the mob within the campus. I shudder to think, even if one girl had come out of the campus…what a field day media would have had and what all I will have to answer! Much later I came to know that media was already informed and they were desperately waiting for some news outside…a district addition did go ahead  and print something about fishy happenings inside our shelter…
It has taken 6 days and 6 nights for me to bring back some sense of hope and confidence in 450 women and children living in our therapeutic community. I had to speak to each one of them…and 90% of them were traumatized by what they saw…and kept repeating they always thought our shelter was much more safer than their own homes…but today they are scared and feel at a dead end…if not this place…where can they go?
Between all this deep within me there unbearable pain and anguish. I wonder every moment now on the truths I unraveled during this time:
-The fact that the Gopalpuram police knew these were traffickers and yet send them to our shelter especially when all these girls were supposed to give their statement in the court next week and the police is aware of it. When I confronted the police their logic was if we send them to jail they will get bail and they will become even more hardened, atleast in Prajwala we are sure they will get reformed. Was it compliment or connivance I wonder?
-The fact that Prajwala is the only licensed home for such specialized care for sex trafficked victims both in Telangana & Andhra Pradesh. And police from all over India just keep dumping girls on our head through court orders. There is not a single Government run shelter home for this cause. Where is the state accountability to deal with this problem?
-The fact that Centrally sponsored Ujjwala scheme is a disaster to say the least. The scheme does not even acknowledge both in word and action that sex trafficking is an organized crime and homes getting this scheme should get adequate/proportionate security. The implementation and disbursement is even more pathetic…consequently 80% of fraudulent NGO’s are only accessing the scheme.
-The fact that in this country there is no victim witness protection scheme which can ensure that all victim witnesses in these cases are provided adequate protection post their stay in safe house….so what is their fate when they leave our shelters? And therefore why should they testify at all? State does not protect them…I can give only for a limited period of time….and the perpetrators thanks to our brilliant criminal justice system will get a bail and will be waiting for the victim outside my shelter as soon as she is out!
Today I am feeling so choked and frustrated…there is only so much I can do as an individual and an organization. The State neither acknowledges this problem nor is willing to place resources to fight this crime…
We at one end struggle with resource crunch…at another fight the sex mafia but the biggest fight is against the society and State for its apathy and rejection. 

After rescuing 12,000 girls from prostitution and attempting to rehabilitate and reintegrate them I am still wondering…will I ever make an impact?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Mortaged my house,staked everything I owned so that a never before told true story of sex trafficking is made into a feature film “Naa bangaaru Talli”( I had to tell this to the world before I go to my grave!!!

It won seven international awards and three national awards, and everybody who has seen the film says I thought this will be a award film, but this is super family thriller”

And yet I struggle to find a distributer…I need Rupees 15 lakhs to have a modest release across Andhra Pradesh & Telangana. And I seek your support to make it happen as I hope to release “Naa bangaaru Talli” by end October 2014.  This money I have to raise by 4th October 2014 so that I can order for the publicity material/TV ads/newspaper Ads/hoardings/posters etc…etc and also get the theaters.  Contribute whatever you can to ensure this story is heard by all. All contributions should reach the following on or before 4th October.
A/c No.:     911020050297659
Bank:        AXIS BANK LTD
Branch:      MEDHIPATNAM
Location:    HYDERABAD
IFSC Code: UTIB0000426

Friday, May 16, 2014


                                                                                       14th May 2014

Dear Abubukar Shekau,


I am not sure whether you have heard the word Namaste. This is an Indian word to greet others which means “I bow before the goodness in you”. And that is what I want I want to do right now, before I express the reason for writing to you an open letter.

My name is Sunitha Krishnan, I am an anti-trafficking activist, based in Hyderabad a city located in South of India.  In the last two decades I have rescued and rehabilitated over 10,100 girls from sexual slavery.  I am a Hindu by faith, but a humanitarian by religion.

Last night I was watching all the videos that you have sent. And what stuck me the most is that we are both very much alike. Both of us are passionate and madly obsessed with our convictions. We have worked very hard to convince others of our beliefs and have been successful in getting a lot of people believe in our convictions. Both of us similarly think that there are oppressive forces that is destroying this world and there is an immediate need for radical intervention from every human being to change the situation.    

But the method you have chosen to actualize your convictions is something that I cannot endorse. I am sure the reason for which you are doing all this has a strong background and your objective is based on deep-rooted pain that you have experienced.  But nothing can justify mindless violence and force. What is the logic of kidnapping 272 girls and keeping them in captivity and threatening to sell them as sex slaves.

Do you think any of these people actually care when million out there are already getting sold every 10 minutes for sexual slavery. Come see any of the prostitution places across the world….millions of girls from all over the world are sold every minute to satisfy the libido of men across the world….children….girls…adults all of them traded so that there bodies can pecked by vultures….the world is SILENT…it does not matter to them that across the world predators are moving in different garbs…offering jobs, marriages…love anything to exploit vulnerability and then trade them…thousands of girls from Nigeria are also languishing in different parts of the World like Italy, German, Austria, ...
Who cares a damn? Does not the world community know about it…believe me everybody knows. But very few want to fight the organized criminal syndicates who are doing this. These are criminals who have no other agenda other than making “money”….using these innocent bodies…
Nobody is questioning ‘men all over the world’  who pay money to have sex with little children, girls….women…Why should they care? They think it will never happen to their near and dear ones. Let me tell you something, these men are not coming from another planet….they are sons, brothers, husbands, fathers of all of us here…. Does Anybody Care…Afraid NOT!  

Why do you want to be clubbed with these criminals? From what I heard you speak…to me it appeared you had a strong reason for your action. By letting your action become same as what any other criminals do…you are forcing the world to call you a ‘terrorist’. No matter how right your thoughts are but if your actions are wrong.....then you also will become ‘wrong’.
Please do not demean your thoughts further by resorting to actions that any human being will definitely condemn.
Children or any human being are not playthings…that you do anything that catches your fancy…Using violent methods, kidnap, forcing human beings to follow another religion under duress cannot bring any change in the world. On the contrary you are creating a situation where you will be more and more excluded. 

I was aghast when you laughingly proclaimed on your video that you will sell those innocent girls as “sex slaves”…Do you even understand what you are talking about? Do you have any idea what it is to a woman to be violated…again and again. Believe me…Allah will never forgive you even for a having a thought of that nature…He the merciful is compassionate and will never laugh at the pain and suffering of others…He will never EVER endorse forcible abduction and rape for the gratification of individual needs.
You have no right to kidnap those girls….and definitely no rights whatsoever to blackmail anybody so that they are forced to release your colleagues.
Do you realize that your action can motivate other evil & criminal forces to do similar things and that if your act is not stopped right away…children across the world are at risk to a similar plight but albeit to satisfy other agendas which may not be as “noble” as yours…Do you see the damage that you are party to…This mindless act of yours has shaken all the efforts of humanitarians across the world. STOP IT…BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE…YOU CANNOT BE THE REASON FOR HUMANS BECOMING SATANS.

I am fighting an organized crime….you are also claiming to fight oppressive forces…and I want to tell you ‘cultures’ are not oppressive…but “actions” can be oppressive…And the act that you have committed right now is downright unacceptable for anybody following any faith from any part of the world.
Anybody including ‘you’ if you act in a way that is destroying others…you are as oppressive as anybody else. You then lose the moral right to preach anything.
Please open your ears…and listen to the cries of the mothers wailing for their daughters who are now in your captivity…Please open your eyes and see the millions like me anguished by your act…

I demand to evoke the ‘goodness in you’…to let go the girls to their families. I say this as a passionate fighter like you who wants to bring change in the world…a new world order which is free of all forms of sexual slavery….Please do not become part of the Oppressive forces which brings in slavery….You are different….and I trust the goodness in you….the merciful Allah in you will guide you to do this rightly.

Believing that collective goodness will destroy evil anywhere in the world…and having faith in your ‘goodness & godliness’ to take the right decision.

With love & prayers,
Sunitha Krishnan



Thursday, October 24, 2013


Not sure if you remember my earlier blog about a movie we wanted to make on sex trafficking “Durga”. After searching for a producer for months together, we gave up and finally decided to produce it ourselves. Well I understand only ‘fools’ with no business understanding take the risk of staking their own money to make a movie. I don’t know whether we also fit into that category or not…but so high is our conviction on what we embark to do, that till date for the strangest reason we have absolutely no regrets or fear that we have staked everything that we owned to make this movie. And by the way ‘we’ means I and my wonderful filmmaker husband Rajesh Touchriver.

After the initial search for producer and our consequent decision to produce it ourselves we decided to this film in two languages, Malayalam and Telugu. At this stage somehow the name Durga lost its appeal and we moved on first to ‘Prathyayam’ which means trust and finally “Naa Bangaaru Talli” which means ‘my dearest daughter’ in Telugu and “Ente” which means “mine” in Malayalam. Technically and practically it meant making two films as each scene had to be done twice…malayalam and telugu.

Selecting a cast had its own set of trouble. But finally after a lot of search we found Anjali Shinde Patil( Debut-Delhi in a day) and Siddiq( a well known versatile actor from Kerala) to play the lead roles. For some unknown reasons Siddiq gave us some terrible last-minute jitters by pulling out just 10 days before the shoot and coming back 3 days before the first schedule began. His star tanturms(if that is what you call for being difficult) continued throughout the production but ended strangely on the last day of the shoot. But the worst shock treatment was given by the then chosen cinematographer. A guy known to us very closely, who had seen all the locations with Rajesh Touchriver my co-producer and director.  Just a week before the shoot he sent a mail (otherwise calling Rajesh up a million times a day was so common) stating his inability to be part of the venture quoting some financial crises. In any case this was a huge crises as visual medium like cinema requires a talented cinematographer. Simultaneously the editor backed out with a curt sms. It was as if there was a planned move from some quarter to discourage this project(as all the rejections were coming mostly from Kerala). 

The last week before the shoot started was a nightmare to say the least…but somewhere our guardian angels were watching us. Just three days before the shoot we found Ramanthulasi, a brilliant cinematographer and DonMax our fantastic editor. Truly we were blessed.

We were also blessed with a number of people who were conspiring to make things work for us. My father who gave his pension savings for the film…my friend Lalita Iyer who staked all her fixed deposits for us…my sister-in-law, my brother-in law, my brother…everybody pitching in to ensure that this dream we were chasing will come true.  There were also senior police officers from Andhra Police who gave us all support regarding locations and other logistics. Finally we were good to go! In spite of all obstacles we started on time!

The shoot started…everyday ended with…thank God this day passed well…and a prayer…God ensure tomorrow is as smooth…in spite of all that there were days when things didn’t go as planned…money was lost on locations…for a few days all kinds of film based unions landed on the sets to disrupt the shooting. One day it was ‘you have given work to people without union cards’ or ‘how can you shoot for two films without our permission’ etc…etc. There was also constant trouble with junior artistes. The worst part was I could not even go for the shooting in the first schedule in Hyderabad as many junior artistes would recognize me. The junior artistes especially those involved in prostitution walked out of sets the moment they knew that I was the producer. They had seen me in a different contexts of raids etc…what a irony!!!

The paid technicians did their job to at least to some extent…but friends who were contributing on the technical side freely, were tough ones to handle…a core team mate even managed to leave the location for good when he was most required…Many lessons learnt…one of them being, in future take only technicians on payment otherwise goodwill does not ensure accountability. An unforgettable instance was when Rajesh Touchriver my co-producer and director(and also my better half!) had to become the art director and had to construct the sets by himself. Today we can proudly say that each aspect of the movie has a significant contribution from the producers themselves.

Production completed…post-production began. Editing…dubbing…music…and background score. DonMax our editor and Sasi our associate editor were super.

At that time we had asked Shareeth a leading music director in south to do the background score and the songs. The songs I must say did come out very well, but the background score was pathetic to say the least. By this time all our assistants except for Harsha had already dumped us. Now I cannot blame them…as we were paying them modestly. So it was Rajesh and Harsha sitting through the editing, dubbing…music…re-recording etc. And Rajesh single handedly managing the same in Kerala and Chennai as we could not afford for Harsha or anybody else to assist Rajesh there. Bhaskar another of our assistant based in Chennai atleast was available on call.

With the background score practically killing all our significant characters…we were back to a situation of making difficult choices. No matter what, both Rajesh and I could not come in terms with this…it was then Shantanu Moitra, a dear friend came to our rescue. He agreed to do the background score, free of cost(just charging us the studio rents). The movie got delayed by a month…but by God what a wait…it is worth it! The background score done by Shantanu is superlative to say the least. And the super-best thing(I am not sure such adjectives exists…but it sounds good to me), the final climax number by Shantanu…I promise you none of you who will watch the movie will forget the tune for a long time to come. Shreya Goshal with her haunting melody…will surely stir everybody’s soul. My little sister who heard it last month briefly, still hums it…So everything that happens…happens for good only.

Movie done…and now  the greatest challenge is taking it to the theaters. Search for a distributer started in earnest.  The answers ranged from “this film does not fall in our kind of films” or “please show it in festivals”, nut and bolt of it was we cannot distribute it for you. The irony was most distributers who saw the film had tears in their eyes(I am not sure now whether it was real or whether I imagined all of it!!!) and told us all the right emotional answers. For that moment we were on top of the world…and then there would be a meeting in a day or two where their stand would be completely different.  All of them unanimously felt (I am telling you this after showing it to more than 30 big and small distributers) it was a great family-thriller, the background score was brilliant, the songs were great, the story mind-blowing, and the performance powerful…etc…etc  

So where is the movie falling short? No star cast, no item number, no sex…no violence…all in all no masala. Infact one small time distributer told me “you had so much scope for adding so many things in your film…atleast you could have shown some sex ( the film is a true story of sex trafficking)…or atleast one item number in the form of a bar dance!!!

This is where I am really questioning the activist in me….what do people want… and what actually sells? Was it wrong of me to believe that there is still a collective conscious in the society that will accept with open arms a sensitive film made on sensitive subjective with relatively unknown faces. Or sense & sensibilities sells only when a star is there…so what was the attraction the cause or the star.

To that extent I am also questioning all that I demanded of Rajesh. When Rajesh started the script I repeatedly harped on the same thing, it has to be a family film and the treatment should be in such a way that I can sit with my 6yr old nephew and not flinch. I also wanted situational songs that will enhance the viewing. I was not interested in making a film which is dark and gory and will only run in a festival circuit where the audience consists mostly of ‘converts’ who do not really require this sensitization. What I was really interested is showing to people who need to be sensitized both from the ‘class’ and from the ‘mass’….

In any case, by now frustrations was eating me up…First you stake everything…then you do not find a way a to take it to its logical conclusion, suddenly an alien sensation of helplessness seeps in. It is at this stage I went to attend INK Conference at Pune(incidentally INK is being held tomorrow at Cochin). I am not sure how many of you know INK. It is an abbreviation for Innovation & Knowledge, an extraordinary forum in association with TED. This is the brainchild of two brilliant and dynamic women Lakshmi Pratury & Anu Sethuram. A conference for the best of the minds and hearts to meet. It was its third conference.  I went for it…and then it felt like Gods were conspiring to make way for me. I met Anu Agha and Amit Singhal. These two people after hearing me speak at the conference, came forward to support this film for us to distribute it ourselves. What a miracle!!!

With this support in hand we decided to distribute this film ourselves in Kerala in association with Celebrate International. We had no choice but to tie up with a existing distributer to get access to the theaters etc.  “Ente” was released in Kerala early this year. The response from those who saw the film “it was the most transformative experience”.  Like I had hoped, from school children to very old people…everybody felt comfortable in watching the film and went back holding something… A mother from Kohikode called me and said…”the first thing I did after seeing the film was rush and hug my daughter”

Super critical acclaim everywhere….but sadly a commercial disaster.  Inspite of the fact that everybody proclaimed it one of the best films that they have seen…there was hardly any crowd rolling on top of each other at the ticket counter… Where were the hundreds & thousands who wanted good cinema…and write or speak so eloquently on facebook, social media and all forums. Suddenly it appeared as if everybody just disappeared…

But to my utter amusement all of them reappeared once the movie was removed from the theaters…we had demands and demands to show “Ente” in some university festival or other. When asked why they did not see it when it reached theaters in their towns…there were a lot of sheepish response. To test further, when we said please pay a screening fees…the disappearance act was repeated. 

Suddenly I was wondering whether people think, since she is a activist she has no right to recover her money…only the commercial film producers have a right to recover and make a profit. We will only buy tickets and watch films of the commercial film producer… and ensure he/she does not have a loss. Since she is activist…she can bear a loss!!! 

I also started questioning myself? What do people want?  Is this a denial? Or is it a resistance to change?                        

The release of “Ente” was a bitter-sweet experience with the Malayali crowd…Sweet because of the response of the those who saw it…and bitter because we were not able to reach to the desired level through the theaters. One of the most memorable comments was by Shri Oomen Chandy, the Chief Minister of Kerala, who sat through a film after 25years( I believe the last film he saw was around 25yrs back)…and said ‘this will always remind me on how less we are doing” and declared it “tax free”.

Now back to square 1, since the Malayalam version did not make the mullahs rolling…no takers in Andhra Pradesh for the telugu version “Naa Bangaaru Talli”. Just for the heck of it we send it some festivals…and lo and behold “ Naa Bangaaru Talli” as adjudged the best feature film at Trinity International Film Festival, Detroit.
I am sure such things are happening only so that our morale is boosted…(God has his/her own way to take care of souls like us)…

Searching for a distributer in Andhra Pradesh….simultaneously trying to mobilize around 30 lakhs or 50,000 USD to release it ourselves. Reliance Entertainment although not willing to invest has committed to support us distribute it if we mobilize the money…even here we need the help of a player in the market who can get us the theaters. So looking for fifty thousands and one hundred thousand to finally make it three hundred thousand rupees to take this film to the theaters. Now you will ask why theaters, why can’t you release it online…my only answer is I want the poorest person in the remotest village in Andhra Pradesh to watch this film…I want to reach where the problem begins.

Will I succeed in Andhra Pradesh…time will say…

And by the way…I hope nobody is saying right now after reading all this…who told her to make a movie…she should just do things that she knows…

My answer…”We have only one life Boss!’’

Watch the trailer…

I am not sure whether there has been an audio launch on a blog…if not let me be the first. Launching the title song of my film “Naa Bangaaru Talli”

Song (singer- Shreya Goshal, music director- Shantanu Moitra)

If you want to share it please feel free to do so… make the song your ringtone…this is your chance to support the cause…can you do it?

Vodafone Users
To Set Caller Tunes SMS Song Name Or Album Name to 57979 or Just Dial 57979

For Mobile Downloads SMS "NBT" to 56060

Available on Nokia Music at