Parvati Saves the World: Watch a Remix of Bollywood Films That Combats Rape in India

Sex­u­al vio­lence in India has been in the spot­light ever since a 23-year-old med­ical stu­dent was gang raped and mur­dered on a bus in New Del­hi in 2012. The crime was so fla­grant and so bru­tal that the coun­try recoiled in shock. Stu­dents and activists descend­ed into the streets of Del­hi to protest.

Film­mak­er Ram Devi­neni real­ized just how entrenched the prob­lem is in Indi­an cul­ture when he spoke with a cop dur­ing one of those protests. As he told the BBC,“I was talk­ing to a police offi­cer when he said some­thing that I found very sur­pris­ing. He said ‘no good girl walks alone at night.’

The Indi­an gov­ern­ment rushed leg­is­la­tion that would increase the prison term for rape along with crim­i­nal­iz­ing oth­er crimes against women like stalk­ing. Yet, a string of oth­er high-pro­file rapes, includ­ing a few against for­eign tourists, show that this is a con­tin­u­ing prob­lem, one that wasn’t going to be solved with a few laws.

“I real­ized that rape and sex­u­al vio­lence in India was a cul­tur­al issue,” said Devi­neni. “And that it was backed by patri­archy, misog­y­ny and peo­ple’s per­cep­tions.”

So Devi­neni decid­ed to try and change India’s cul­ture with one of the most pow­er­ful weapons out there: art.

Inspired by Hin­du mythol­o­gy, Devi­neni and a cou­ple col­lab­o­ra­tors cre­at­ed a graph­ic nov­el about Priya, a rape sur­vivor who appeals for help to Par­vati, the God­dess of pow­er and beau­ty. By the end of the com­ic, Priya con­fronts her attack­ers while rid­ing a tiger.

As a con­tin­u­a­tion of the project, Devi­neni cre­at­ed Par­vati Saves the World, a sim­i­lar sto­ry pieced togeth­er from some amaz­ing­ly kitschy Bol­ly­wood epics from the 1970s. He described the project as being “like DJ Spooky’s remix of Birth of a Nation but this focus­es on sex­u­al vio­lence.”

In the film, Priya once again appeals to Par­vati after get­ting attacked, this time by the friend of a pride­ful king. When Par­vati con­fronts the king, he tries to assault her. This is a bad move. Her hus­band is the God Shi­va, AKA “the Destroy­er,” AKA some­one you real­ly don’t want to tick off. As pun­ish­ment, he brings fire and death on heav­en and earth. Real­iz­ing that vio­lence isn’t the answer, Par­vati goes to Earth to become “a bea­con of hope for oppressed women every­where.”

You can watch Par­vati Saves the World in three parts above. You can learn more about Devi­neni’s mis­sion at The Cre­ator’s Project.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Bertrand Russell’s Improb­a­ble Appear­ance in a Bol­ly­wood Film (1967)

Ravi Shankar Gives George Har­ri­son a Sitar Les­son … and Oth­er Vin­tage Footage

George Harrison’s Mys­ti­cal, Fish­eye Self-Por­traits Tak­en in India (1966)

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veep­to­pus, fea­tur­ing pic­tures of vice pres­i­dents with octo­pus­es on their heads.  The Veep­to­pus store is here.

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