'Let’s change the way the world treats daughters'
Anuradha Singh on how making India’s Daughter motivated her to adopt a daughter
Anuradha Singh, 43, has spent the last 2 years living a story that has given her the shivers, woken her up at unearthly hours at night and made her decide not to do any more documentaries.
A film editor with films such as Slumdog Millionaire and Million Dollar Arm under her belt, she has been with Leslee Udwin at every single step of filming and editing the sensitive documentary that took India by storm – India’s Daughter.
But that dark story of ‘Nirbhaya’ has also given her a precious gift – in the form of a beautiful adopted daughter, Aradhana. On the occasion of Mother’s Day, she speaks to us about what it is like to be India’s daughter.
When the Nirbhaya incident happened, what did you go through?
I happened to be in India in December 2012. It was shocking to see that news unfold. I am sure nobody could watch that story without getting revolted. I was moved by the way the citizens were protesting. It was not a political protest and I even wanted to join in but I could do only whatever was possible on the social media.
Did it make you question your position as a daughter in this country?
Yes it did. I am a daughter too. But I was given a beautiful environment to grow up in. I was never ever made to feel any different from anyone else. There is a difference when someone is brought up in a secure and loved environment.
I grew up to be an independent person who looked at everyone with an equal eye. I thought it was so everywhere but reality is so different.
Click on Continue Reading to read what Anuradha Singh has to say about Mukesh Singh
Did you ever sense the ‘prowling eyes’ while you were growing up?
I am sure everyone here has encountered that flasher when we travel to school or anywhere else unescorted. Even I did. Then there were those who would accidentally brush past you. If anyone mustered the courage to complain, they would look you with a glint in the eye and have the guts to say, ‘Go on, tell everyone what happened’. It is disgusting.
Which is why what Mukesh Singh said made everything even worse that it already was.
Oh God! Those were such difficult parts to film. The man has no remorse. That was the scary part. It’s so, so difficult to sit there and keep your wits about you while someone is saying the most appalling things possible. And to think that there are people like him moving about in India. When I was editing the bit with a line that says, ‘When I saw that they were her intestines…’ I gave up. I couldn’t continue further.
What got you back on the film?
It was Leslee. She called me and said that if I didn’t jump in, the film would never get done. See, this was a non-paid project and the film’s cameraperson had anyway left halfway through it and I was handling the camera too for her. And this was my way of doing something for that daughter of India. But that line still gives me the shivers.
Click on Continue Reading to read about Anuradha Singh's daughter
You have a daughter. Please tell us about her.
Aradhana has a beautiful story. When Leslee and I were filming India’s Daughter, it was a very emotional journey for us. She suggested to me that we must adopt a daughter and bring her up in a secure environment, in a place where she can live freely. Lesle has a son and a daughter also.
So I applied in an orphanage in Himachal Pradesh but when I got to know that my brother and sister-in-law were expecting, I told them that if it was a girl, I would wish to adopt her. As destiny would have it, they got a baby girl and Aradhana is my daughter!
It’s a beautiful thing, being a mother. She is currently with my mom and my brother as she is just 15 months old. But another year and she will be with me all the time. And Leslee is going to be her mother too.
What kind of world do you want to bring up your daughter in?
As safe and peaceful a world as can be. You know what the last line of Jyoti was in that hospital before she passed on? She said, ‘Mom, I am sorry I troubled you so much.’ I want a world where girls don’t need to have to say this.
In the documentary, Sheila Dixit, then CM of Delhi, said that while girls are asked a 1000 questions, boys are not asked to explain anything. I want that to change. Children learn by observing adult behaviour. Gender stereotypes have to be broken right then.
What would you say to all the parents out there?
I would say that the need to feel safe is everyone’s right. No one is anyone’s property. I would also like to add that the new generation brings with it a lot of hope. They are really the change.
Another thing, I would like to say is that this is not really about India. We have added world statistics at the end of the documentary. Unfortunately not many have seen it. Let’s change the way the world treats daughters.
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