Childlessness remains a huge stigma for the conservative Indian society where women are often defined by motherhood.
Santhanagopala (A Prayer for the Childless) is the story of Bhoomi, a woman struggling against the stigma of childlessness.
Juxtaposing her adherence to traditional and modern rituals, the short film directed by Sandeep Ravindranath depicts Bhoomi’s entrapment in the dutiful bondage of an arranged marriage.
Her faith is her only pillar of strength in a solitary struggle to conform to societal expectations. But even that might not amount to much.
Society puts pressure on Bhoomi to conform with the exacting status criteria of women, tied to the idea of motherhood, where the man is not held accountable.
The film also talks about marital rape, a burning issue that is not considered a criminal offence in our country.
Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code that deals with rape states under Exception 2 that sexual intercourse by a man with his wife without consent, the wife not being under 18 years of age, is not rape.
The age limit of 18 is a recent change (the Supreme Court made this change in October 2017). Until then, that age limit was 15.
Sandeep Ravindranath is a student of audio-visual arts. He has worked as a live sound engineer for many eminent personalities, including Chitravina Ravi Kiran, Nagai Muralidharan, the Carnatica Brothers, Ustad Shahed Pervez Khan, and Steve Gorn.
He holds a Master’s Degree in Music Technology from New York University and was a programmer analyst for Sony Music, Manhattan.
His debut film Tharattu Pattu got selected to more than 30 festivals in 14 countries, and won many awards. Book Shelf, his second film that deals with the growing intolerance in India, was commissioned by three Indian publishing houses, Tulika, Kalachuvadu, and Chintha.
He was offered a full scholarship in direction at Columbia College, Chicago, where he is presently a student.
Santhanagopala will be screened at the short film festival organised by the Federation of Film Societies of India at St. Thomas College, Thrissur, that began on Saturday.
In all, 150 films will be screened at the festival being co-organised by Chetana Media Institute, Fine Arts College, and Thrissur Centre for Media Studies.