Sunday, February 18th
6:50 – 9:00pm
CARNEGIE INSTITUTION for SCIENCE
$11 IN ADVANCE HERE OR AT THE DOOR
Screens as part of Things Run Deep: Dramatic Shorts.
Directed by Reema Sengupta
Lead Cast: Kani Kusruti, Vijay Varma
India / 2018 / 15mins / East Coast Premiere
In a city overflowing with buildings and slums, Smita must find herself a house to rent. She is hard-working, honest and respectful – the ideal tenant – except for one glaring flaw. She is a middle-class Indian woman without a husband. An intimate perspective on the identity of the ‘Ideal Indian Female’ in urban India of today.
Counterfeit Kunkoo is a narrative drama set in Mumbai that speaks about housing discrimination, marital rape and reclaiming one’s sexuality.
In a country where marital rape is not a legal crime, where a woman’s very name is defined by her husband’s name, the fight to live a dignified existence begins at the struggle for separation but is far from over at the separation itself.
Counterfeit Kunkoo has been a very personal journey for me. When my mother, an educated, financially-independent, 45-year-old woman was told to find herself another house to live in by her husband, hurt but still unfazed, she started house-hunting. Nothing could’ve prepared her for the ordeal that awaited her. She was rejected as a tenant from so many building societies because she wasn’t going to be living with her husband; a husband who had psychologically and physically tortured her for 25 years and then thrown her out on the streets. Women even in one of the most progressive cities in India, seem to need a husband, no matter how abusive he is, for society to believe they are ‘respectable’. This is only one manifestation of how much of a woman’s identity is judged by her marital status. An entire person reduced to the vermillion (kunkoo) on her forehead and the string of black and gold beads (mangalsutra) around her neck; signs of marriage worn only by the woman, not the man.
Counterfeit Kunkoo is an exploration of the idiosyncrasies that come with the deep-seated misogyny that finds its way into everyday life in India, the battles one must fight, and whether winning or losing those battles matters at all in the first place.