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Marathi film 'Rekha' highlights menstrual hygiene of street dwellers

Marathi non-feature film ‘Rekha’ has highlighted the bad state of street dwellers’ menstrual hygiene and how they lack facilities to even take a bath. The film that is based on the daily struggles of street dwellers, their hygiene and sanitation issues and the society’s outlook towards them, was screened under Indian Panorama Non-feature section in 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI), underway in Goa.

Director of ‘Rekha’, Shekhar Bapu Rankhambe said that people shut outdoors to the street dwellers.

“But why do we do this? A quest to find out the reason behind their ill-fate and society’s disregard for the street dwellers led me to research on this project for one and a half years.”

Rankhambe, during the Table Talk programme in IFFI, on Friday said that while projecting the difficulties in the lives of women living on roads, the film also focuses on the bad state of their menstrual hygiene.

“While researching on the subject, I was shocked to find out about their reality. They don’t get to take baths for months,” he said.

The protagonist Rekha lives on the roadside. Suffering from a fungal skin infection, the doctor recommends her to take a bath and apply medicine. But her husband stops her and ill-treats her.

Rekha tries to take bath but is shocked when the women of her community tell her the reason not to, leaving her in a dilemma. She decides to leave her husband so that she can take a bath to tackle the infection. The film portrays her hardships to stay clean.

According to Rankhambe, the film’s cast consists of theatre artists of Maharashtra who have never faced cameras before. Hence, a two month-long workshop was conducted to train them on acting in front of cameras. The scripting and shooting was done during the second Covid-induced lockdown phase.

The film focuses on various layers of the concept of cleanliness, while also stating that society needs to adopt a clean approach towards street dwellers.

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