Romantic Scene | film, 2019
Romantic Scene is a short film examining the tropes of gendered violence in commercial Bollywood films from the 70s and 80s that I was exposed to during my childhood and adolescence. Almost every major film from this era would portray sexual assaults and physical violence towards women in an archetypal format designed to simultaneously horrify and titillate the audience. I worked with this archival footage, reshooting the videos from internet sources onto 16mm, then erased the bodies of the victims physically from the film using various chemical processes directly on the celluloid, frame by frame. My process was inspired by Naomi Uman’s seminal film “Removed” which I saw while I was studying with her in graduate school at CalArts. In this film, Uman worked with archival pornographic films and meticulously removed the bodies of the women – the objects – physically from the film, to leave a negative white space in their place. In a similar way I worked with the bodies of the women in these Bollywood films, to signify the erasure of agency and sanctioning of violence in the public consciousness that was encouraged by these scenes and sequences.