Tanuja Chandra isn’t any stranger to documentaries. She helmed the critically acclaimed 2019 documentary Aunty Sudha Aunty Radha, the place she documented the lives of her 86 and 93-year-old aunts in a village. Nonetheless, her new docuseries, Marriage ceremony.con, is polar reverse in tone, texture and format. It chronicles the rising risk of matrimonial web site scams.
(Additionally Learn: Marriage ceremony.con evaluate: A chilling, revealing documentation of matrimonial fraud)
Tanuja began her directorial profession with Dushman, the 1998 psychological thriller starring Kajol. 25 years later, she’s dedicated to telling girls’s tales, whether or not in cinema or on OTT, whether or not in fiction or in documentary. “Actually, actual girls speaking about their very actual experiences will all the time be very completely different from somebody researching and writing fiction,” stated Tanuja, who made her long-format debut with the present Hush Hush final 12 months.
Like that present, which additionally streamed on Prime Video India, Marriage ceremony.con additionally tells the tales of 5 girls, with a standard thread working by means of every. Tanuja defined that there have been many extra girls who have been duped of even bigger sums by way of matrimonial fraud. “However they did not need to come ahead due to disgrace. Even though they’re the victims, they really feel like they did one thing mistaken. Which is one thing that bothered me lots,” she stated.
Out of the ladies who did come ahead, Tanuja picked 5 as a result of they represented varied ages, backgrounds, and the methods during which they have been duped. Whereas a pair selected to disclose their faces within the docuseries, the others hid their identities within the shadows. However Tanuja insisted she did not discriminate between them. “They’ve their very own causes and their causes are as necessary and as legitimate as anything. However the ones who did select to disclose their identification are very courageous and needs to be applauded,” Tanuja stated.
‘Not an iota of judgement’
When BBC Studios India reached out to Tanuja for the docuseries, she received the chance to amalgamate all her talent units as a director – telling girls’s tales, documentary-making, and crafting a thriller. “The factor I am chasing essentially the most is to place girls on the market and make them communicate with out disgrace. However they needed to narrate to us what occurred blow by blow. The human elements of it intercut with the plot-heavy elements of it. That is very a lot additionally a fiction battle – how do you contact the viewer’s coronary heart whereas making the plot transfer?”
Tanuja needed to mix the interviews, the screenlife points since a lot of the plot unfolded on-line, and spruce it up with recreated storylines. “It isn’t an observational documentary. Half of it’s recreated. Interviews are inherently static. However the girls knew that not an iota of me was judging them. So it was very heart-to-heart,” stated Tanuja, who stated approaching the topic with out judgement was most vital to her.
“The world may be very fast to evaluate. Regardless that all of us want love in our lives and we would need a gorgeous partnership the place we will share our ideas, fears, and ambitions with any individual. It is one of many lovely issues in life, proper? So all of us have these longings. I, for not even one second, thought, ‘How might she do that.’ I by no means wanted to wrap my head round it. It is such a human intuition to need this,” stated Tanuja.
Longing and loneliness aren’t the one components that make girls fall prey to matrimonial fraud. Final 12 months, Reema Kagti’s Prime Video India present Dahaad depicted how girls from various backgrounds and ages are drawn in direction of a person who sweet-talks them into hazard. Vijay Varma’s character within the present carried out in depth analysis on each girl with a view to gauge the emotional void he can fill in every of them in order to carry them captive.
Marriage portals or not, girls have discovered it robust to fall in love nonetheless. “Actually, the unhappy half is such little analysis or statistics is accessible on this. As a result of girls do not come out and report. Whereas it should have all the time been occurring, my guess is that it is grown by leaps and bounds. As a result of the digital market provides the perpetrators a canopy,” stated Tanuja, underlining points like on-line anonymity, lack of bodily proof, and jurisdiction limitations.
Society at fault
She defined how the perpetrators typically goal working girls with high-paying jobs, however these with a small-town upbringing or widows/divorcees in search of companionship, “Society pushes that strain of marriage actually onerous on youthful girls. After 30, they are saying you are too outdated. After 35, the ship has already sailed. After 40 or 50, a girl thinks this is a person who’s educated, has a job, and is saying these good issues to me that I’ve longed for all my life.”
Tanuja, 55, is a single girl herself who has by no means married. She admitted the query is posed to her very often. “Are you married is the one query persons are requested. As a result of that is assumed to be the completion of your life. I hate for younger individuals to be always cautious and suspicious. The place’s the enjoyable in being weighed down by nervousness? We have to have a look at this docuseries by means of the lens that there is a cultural want that is being exploited by grasping and dishonest perpetrators.”
She defined how the justice system is skewed in opposition to the sufferer, particularly when she’s a working girl. “When she seeks justice, she’s already gone by means of the agony of calling herself silly. Then comes the household who calls her silly, then the police, after which the regulation. The onus of defending herself is completely on the sufferer. No blame on the perpetrator!” Tanuja is thus not too shocked why girls do not come out in massive numbers to report matrimonial fraud.
“These perpetrators exploit what working girls have fought for all this whereas. They will come throughout as feminists who need their companions to work and earn as a lot. Girls have been longing to have this equality. However this makes me personally very unhappy. As a result of a rip-off makes them doubt their independence. Firstly, you’re employed onerous to earn that freedom and as quickly as you make a mistake, you understand that the world goes to come back down on you onerous. In the event that they suppose that them being working girls is at fault, it simply takes us again in time.”
Talking of time, the shortage of policing and regulation to maintain tempo with our quickly altering lives should even be held accountable. “The world resides digitally and we won’t flip that again. When your life modifications, the regulation and the police also needs to adapt to that. However we’re all the time two steps behind,” stated Tanuja, claiming that even marriage portals absolve themselves of any accountability by merely issuing ‘tips’ as an alternative of really going by means of the grind of doing background checks.
Irony of marriage portals
“When BBC Studios got here to me with this topic, I used to be shocked on the scale of the crime. I did not learn about it, regardless of contemplating myself fairly well-informed,” stated Tanuja, agreeing that the rising numbers in matrimonial fraud are pushing younger individuals to return to the standard paths of organized marriage. As an illustration, a matchmaker, each a proper, dependable one like Seema Taparia from Netflix present Indian Matchmaking, and a casual one like a well-connected relative or household pal.
“It is ironic as a result of freedom is strictly what digital portals present: they provide the likelihood to discover past your group. As a result of a matchmaker would look solely domestically. Marriage portals are serving to educated, working girls to bypass the normal organized marriage system and keep away from the entire meet-the-family-and-serve-chai scenario. It is given a certain quantity of freedom to girls, however they do not know who they’re chatting with,” stated Tanuja.
The very platform that was meant to liberate the brand new era has come again to chunk it. She recalled how in her final directorial characteristic, Qarib Qarib Singlle (2017), Parvathy’s character begins panicking when she realises that Irrfan Khan’s character Yogi, who she’s travelling with, would not have a social media account that will confirm his credibility. However because it goes, after Marriage ceremony.con, a digital presence can also be no assure for a secure area.