6 Yards to Democracy


(Nishtha Jain and Smriti Nevatia, 2006, India, Hindi with English subtitles, 55 minutes, HDV )

During election time in one of the poorest areas of the North Indian city of Lucknow, a politician distributed free saris, hoping to secure some votes. Tragedy ensued when a gruesome stampede caused the deaths of 22 women, with hundreds more suffering horrific injuries. This film skillfully takes this seemingly stray incident as a starting point to explore how it connects in significant ways with the daily humiliations forced upon these women and their families, thus uncovering the sordid underside of Indian democracy. As boomtown dynamics keep pushing them further into the margins of society, we observe the women’s struggles to keep their homes, hopes and dignity intact while petitioning an apathetic state for their dues. This beautifully shot documentary features raw images of the tragic sari episode, moving testimonies from the women who witnessed it, and interviews with the city’s marginalized people about the difficulties that they face in their day-to-day lives. All this combines to provide a poignant picture of the desperate situation confronting those at the very bottom of the Indian social system.

Director’s Bio

Starting her career as an editor and correspondent for video newsmagazines before joining the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Nishtha Jain specializes in Film Direction. Her diploma film Jam Invalid won the Gold Plaque at the Chicago International Film festival in 1999. Since then she has made several documentaries for Television and worked briefly as Executive Producer for a documentary channel ‘Chakra’. Smriti Nevatia has worked as researcher, scriptwriter and occasional director on a wide variety of TV shows as well as documentaries. She is associate director of ‘City of Photos’ and co-director of ‘6 Yards to Democracy’. She recently wrote the dialogue for a play by sex workers about their lives, and is currently working on a feature film script.

Saturday, Oct. 6, 2007, 5 PM