Domestic abuse, cultural oppression and audism (discrimination against deaf people) may appear like an unexpected trio of issues to be tackled in one lecture, however Manchester Metropolitan University’s (MMU) Bhulla Beghal addresses them all in his emotionally charged biographical film 25 Minutes of a Lifetime.
Journeying through the life of a deaf Indian woman, the film is an incredibly painful and poignant account of her battle with audism, abuse and arranged marriage. Shot from the point of view of the protagonist, without any sound, the audience becomes absorbed into the character.
Third year student Bhulla talks with drive and passion about a subject very close to his heart that has derived from his own Indian background. I asked what inspired him to make such a film.
“It’s a true story of someone I know personally. The issues in the film are not from articles I have read about or things I’ve seen on TV but my own experiences. This is common, there’s ignorance in my culture. It seems ego, honour and status are put before a person’s wellbeing. The message I’m trying to get across is there is a problem in my culture that people hide. Concepts such as bringing shame on a family leads people to marry someone they don’t want to because they daren’t refuse. I can’t stand that people still think like that.”
To take on such a sensitive social issue is not what you would expect from your typical 22 year old Illustration with Animation student. Bhulla explained,
“I think art can have a social responsibility and it’s something that is new to my work. I am trying to use art as a tool for social change. I woke up every day motivated to make this film. I want my film to open up an issue that has always been brushed under the carpet. I want people to see this woman’s life, to see her strength and the obstacles she overcomes. See how she regains her own freedom, her own voice, and to speak up.”
Issues such as domestic abuse and cultural oppression are heavy and painful with no easy answers; however, with young filmmakers like Bhulla Beghal, ignoring them is no longer an option. His debut film might just be the first step in a long walk to equality. He tells me, “I’m not in a position where I can give answers, what I want to do is to promote discussion. The speakers will be much more knowledgeable than me; I just want to tell a story.”
The film will be screened for the first time publicly this Thursday 22nd May during Behind The Closed Door, an event aiming to discuss the issues brought up in 25 Minutes of a Lifetime. The evening will also include two guest speakers, Dr Karan Jutla, speaking on Asian cultural oppression and Carol Townsend from Manchester Woman’s Aid discussing the work they do. The night will run from 6pm till 8, you can find out more about the film at Bhulla’s Facebook page.
George Norris is a third year MMU student studying Criminology & Sociology who aspires to become a writer. Torn between two cities, George spends half his time in Leeds, and half his time in Manchester. He is as northern as killing your brothers kestrel. Follow him on Twitter.