Every month when I get my period, I am never able to freely speak about it whether at the workplace or at a party with extended family and friends. I slowly began to notice that my friends who came from both conservative and liberal families while living outside of India, have always been restricted in what they cannot say or do while on their periods. Most of my female friends to this day are not allowed to enter the kitchen when they’re menstruating because they are considered “filthy”. There were many incidents happening around me and that made me realize how important it was to bring this story to life.
‘A Bloody Mess’ is a call to the South Asian community and society that we must engage in open dialogue with males and females alike when it comes to the reproductive process, and specifically, menstruation. The need to ensure that myths and stereotypes are not attached to menstruation is important as the day-to-day functioning of a family can be inexplicably disturbed when one resorts to the negative connotations that surrounds the coming and going of a period.
‘A Bloody Mess’ is our attempt to “normalize” the process of menstruation in order to ensure that shame is no longer attached to a biological function that female bodies have no control over. It is our attempt to push the community to celebrate or at least accept that menstruation is an important part of life, and one that should not hinder any functioning on any one person’s part.
Young women often find out about their periods when they first get their periods, or from school. Parents often do not have a meaningful conversation with their children about menstruation, the importance of the cycle, and the side effects. Young South Asians often feel uncomfortable talking about their periods in a social setting or a familial setting. They are often shut down by other female figures in the family, who find it embarrassing to talk about periods. Some regard the period as an impurity that the body is cleansing itself of, so much so that restrictions are placed on participation in religious and cultural settings. They cannot enter temples. They cannot indulge in “prasad”.
One of the intentional aspects of the film are the longer one take shots of conflict scenes, in order to capture a natural flow and reactions between my actors. For example, the scene before the climax shows three characters in a conflict in a fluid setting which has 12 extras who are constantly moving and so is the camera; this entire uncut shot in the film is one minute and twenty seconds long. The colours for the film I chose were red and blue. When we delve into Varsha’s world, we see the colour red in dominance. When we enter Aarti’s (mother) world, we see more blues.
During the shooting process, it was interesting how important this conversation became even amongst my co-actors. While some completely understood the barriers South Asian women face, others found that being unable to speak about your period unnatural and bizarre. However, while on set, interestingly, four of our key crew members including myself got our periods on the first day of shooting, and for the first time, we said it out loud and then laughed. It was liberating even for the crew of the film.
I hope that “A Bloody Mess” will start a conversation and will bring a change in the way in which periods are perceived within families