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How A Documentary Triggered a National Movement Against Rape in India – Vibha Bakshi

Vibha is an award-winning film director and producer. Her latest film “Daughters of Mother India” is the winner of the National Film Award for Best Film on Social Issues.

A small, personal decision can sometimes change the world. When 23-year old Nibhaya was gang-raped on a moving bus in Delhi, film-maker Vibha decided to make a documentary about rape in India. Nothing had prepared her for the heart-wrenching stories she was about to hear or the everyday heroes she was about to meet. And then the film took on a life of its own, growing into a national movement and cultural beacon that has united millions of people from all corners of India. The people’s message was clear: it is time to break the silence and shift the shame from the victim to the perpetrator.

Bosslady Vibha is an award-winning film director & producer. A former business reporter for CNBC, Vibha studied Journalism and Broadcasting at Boston University and New York University. Vibha’s films have been aired on HBO and Lifetime TV in the United States. Her latest film “Daughters of Mother India” is the winner of the National Film Award for Best Film on Social Issues, awarded by President of India. This is the highest honour in Indian Films. The film has also been named the Most Awarded Social Campaign in the World.

This episode is about one woman who acted on her passion and used her platform to combat a rampant social problem. We discussed the value of changing just one person at a time and its multiplier effect. We talked about society’s view on rape and how it is evolving. We discussed the hugely important role that the Delhi police force played in the making of the film – and its dissemination afterwards. We discussed how “Daughters of Mother India” turned into a national movement… and what happens next.


Read the Transcript

Note: While When Women Win is produced as an audio recording, we are delighted to produce transcripts for those who are unable to hear. Kindly note that these are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Media is encouraged to check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

 

Rana Nawas:

[00:00] Hello again ladies and gentlemen. My guest on today’s episode is Vibha Bakshi, who’s eye opening documentary is available on Netflix. Vibha is an award winning film director and producer, a former business reporter for CNBC. Vibha studied Journalism and broadcasting at Boston University and New York University. Vibhas films have been aired on Hbo and Lifetime TV in the USA. Her latest film, “Daughters of Mother India” is a winner of the National Film Award for best film on social issues awarded by the president of India. This is the highest honor in Indian movies. We talked about everything from her childhood to our children, to her movie, “Daughters of Mother India.” So let’s get into it. “Daughters of Mother India” puts the spotlight on rape in India. For the benefit of the listeners, how big is this problem? Can you give us some context?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[01:03] Rape is a global issue, but since I am from India, a very, very horrific happened that I think has changed more so it has broken the conspiracy of silence that surrounded the issue of rape. You know, in 2012 there was a very brutal rape that happened in a moving bus. India made notorious headlines, but when that rape happened, there was a revolution that unfolded in our country. And when I witnessed that, I stood there as a very proud daughter of India because I truly believe no other country in the world has reacted to this gender crime the way India did. Everybody was on the streets, the young, the old, it was the middle of winter. The police had unleashed water cannons and nobody moved. And so now the dialogue on rape is very, very important in India.

 

Rana Nawas:

[02:09] That’s great that it’s happening now. I mean, before Nibayas rape, it’s felt that it was being treated rape was being treated pretty casually.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[02:19] Rana, it was more which, you know, I’ve made films out of the United States. Actually, this is my first film out of India. What happens in the, in the case of rape, the shame is actually on the survivor. And so when people do not talk about rape, it’s really to avoid the shame and that shame needs to move. We need to understand where the shame belongs and if that dialogue can change then only will things change. And so now we’re realizing the conspiracy of silence is broken and now we’re shifting the blame where it belongs.

 

Rana Nawas:

[03:00] And your film “Daughters of India” has recently been named the most awarded social campaign in the world. So can you tell us a bit how you turned a movie into a movement?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[03:13] Actually, I play a very small part. I am just the story teller. Incredible people, incredible people like you. Incredible people have taken the movement forward. We made the film with the right intention. Actually, the film, you know, we were the only team, film team, to gain access to the Delhi police control and command crew. This story could have very easily been a sensational story. We could, but I knew that I wanted to leave my people with hope because this is a fight that we cannot afford to lose. Actually, when we were making the film, it became our only aim was to make a responsible film and I am so grateful that people have embraced it and taken it forward and I think the biggest triumph was that my toughest critics, the police embraced the film. We have screened this film for 150,000 police officers in India to gender sensitize the police force.

 

Rana Nawas:

[04:22] What does that mean, gender sensitize?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[04:24] Be the at the front line of the movement, and I keep saying that, that this is not a blame game. We as a society have to change the mindset and the police is part of the society, so they have biases like any one of us, but because they are in the frontline of the justice system, if they do not report the crime, if they tell the woman go home because the shame will come on your family – justice is very far away. So it’s very important that the police is gender sensitized.

 

Rana Nawas:

[04:58] So you’re moving them away from a situation where they used to dissuade victims from lodging a complaint to a situation where they are encouraging and helping them get justice. Is that were you going for?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[05:13] So when a woman comes home at 2:00 in the morning, the first question and she’s reporting, you know, either stalking or molestation or actually the crime, the first thing that is going on in the police officer’s head is what is she doing out at 2:00 AM? He’s unable to look beyond that or judging a woman the way she’s dressed, that they have to be gender sensitized to the society has to be gender sensitized too. I’m a journalist, I do come home at 2:00 in the morning. I am judged too and that needs to change.

 

Rana Nawas:

[05:51] Well, even if you’re out at a party until 2:00 in the morning.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[05:55] Absolutely, and this is what we realized that in my film “Daughters of Mother India.” I felt the police was a very, very critical part of the story and actually anywhere in the world they’re impossible to get. So the fact that we were able to get the police in our film and how it happened was when the revolution broke out and I knew that the police was a critical part. I think I used every influence that I had to reach the police commissioner. Who at that time was not willing to meet anyone, but we managed a meeting. I had come totally prepared as to why he must give me access into the police headquarters. We looked at each other and I said, so I’m a stakeholder in the society. If we lose this fight, I have everything to lose. And he looked at me and he said, I’m a father of two daughters, and we had gained access to the police control and command room for the first time in the history of the police.

 

Rana Nawas:

[07:02] Well, so the police helped you make the movie?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[07:05] The police commissioner gave me access.

 

Rana Nawas:

[07:08] How did that help you?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[07:09] I was in. I could see the movement of the police. And what’s amazing is there were no cuts that were shown to the police before the release of the film. And I was left alone. And the first time that the police commissioner watched the film was with 600 people that included lawyers and activists and he was the first man to stand up to give the standing ovation.

 

Rana Nawas:

[07:32] Wow. And what did he say afterwards? After watching the movie, did it reflect his feelings, intentions, goals, in helping you?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[07:40] He, he said, I am grateful that you treated us like human beings, and he said, giving you access could have costed me my seat because it’s very easy to sensationalize with the police and that’s the easiest way a film can get headlines, and he just said, because your intent and emotion is right, this film will have a life of its own. And three years later we just found it got embraced by activists, by academia, by the police. Everyone came together to take this film forward.

 

Rana Nawas:

[08:29] Amazing feedback and support from the police commissioner, of Delhi?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[08:34] And again he gave it because he felt it was the right thing to do, but as filmmakers we carry a responsibility to. This film could have gone in any direction. As I say, it is very easy to sensationalize such a sensitive issue.

 

Rana Nawas:

[08:50] There was one point in the movie where I almost felt sorry for the policeman talking because he, he was he was talking about society and he was saying if an 11 year old boy is trying to assault a five year old girl in a public bathroom, what do you expect me to do about this? Or if a 20 year old is calling the police station saying, my dad is trying, help me, what do you want me to do about it?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[09:14] So I also when, when I was talking to that police officer, you see after two months of spending time with the police, they forgot that the cameras were rolling. You know I mean I can tell you the first month of the footage was junked because they were aware we were there and they were saying all the right things. But after some time I think they forgot we became a fly on the wall and that was such an honest quote because he himself was desperate and I saw that.

 

Rana Nawas:

[09:44] I connected to that. I mean, I really felt his pain as a human being.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[09:48] Yes. I mean, we saw police, women, police officers when they shift changed and they got out of the police uniform and you know, draped a sari and they went out, they felt the same fear just like any one of us and that’s when things changed on the editing floor. What I realized, which was a turning point in the making of the movie. Actually when I entered the police station, they were on one side and I was on the other side. There was a wall between us. Over time I realized they’re are mirror image of us.

 

Rana Nawas:

[10:23] Right? It’s a microcosm of society.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[10:24] Absolutely. It’s how we are thinking is how they’re thinking. If my neighbor judges me, well, that’s how the police officers judging me. And that was a turning point and for that I think the entire police force in the country was very, very grateful. And Rana, I truly believe if you want people to join and change, you cannot force change. You have to make them understand and make them want to be part of that change.

 

Rana Nawas:

[10:58] Make them want to change themselves.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[11:00] Exactly. So by criticizing and putting either the men down, or the police down, it does nothing for the movement. Make everyone responsible for that change. And I saw this entire movement unfold before me.

 

Rana Nawas:

[11:19] And let’s talk about the life of the film after it was launched. So you’ve used it to, not you, it’s been used to gender sensitize 150,000 police officers, but also it’s being screened in schools. So can you talk a little bit about that?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[11:36] Actually, what started was, unfortunately, the school that I went to is a Jesuit school and I was actually catching a flight to Dubai when I got a call from my school. I mean, I think I go to call after 25 years and, and they said, we need you to come to school. My principal was gang raped, 72 year old. And I came back and they said Andy Cardinal spoke to me and he said, we will forgive but not forget. And this film was shown at the same spot where the holy mass happens and the film was shown. The academic force in Mumbai all came together. Students came together. It was such an emotional screening because I stood on the same grounds that I played, and we we aired the film and the cardinal came up and said, every Jesuit school will make this part of the curriculum.

 

Rana Nawas:

[12:47] And what’s the reason?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[12:48] And he’s the one who first launched the whole movement with schools.

 

Rana Nawas:

[12:53] And what’s his objective by screening the movie at every school?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[12:56] He believes you need to gender sensitize much earlier as in target the children who are 15, 15 onwards. Today it is being screened across the schools for eighth grade onwards because it’s very important. We make our children understand they are the future of society. You don’t change a 50 year old man.

 

Rana Nawas:

[13:22] That’s right.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[13:23] But you speak to a 15 year old boy.

 

Rana Nawas:

[13:25] And even younger. I mean, in the movie I was amazed when I saw a primary school teaching very young kids.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[13:33] Absolutely.

 

Rana Nawas:

[13:34] Good touch and bad touch.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[13:35] Which is critical.

 

Rana Nawas:

[13:36] I mean, on the one hand, it’s so sad that we’re at that point that we’re teaching seven year olds what good touch and bad touch is, but on the other hand, it’s great that there’s this awareness and hopefully, you know.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[13:49] and it’s spreading.

 

Rana Nawas:

[13:50] Yeah.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[13:50] Oh, today, you know, all our schools are doing this, they’re doing this for age group five to six, and I think it’s very important. And that’s why I keep saying that there was a conspiracy of silence when people ask what has changed, change is not going to happen overnight. I mean this is generations of thinking, but what has happened is the conspiracy of silence is finally broken. People didn’t want to do it because they said it’s not happening and that’s not true.

 

Rana Nawas:

[14:25] And a conspiracy of silence meaning the victims who were staying silent.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[14:29] Yes.

 

Rana Nawas:

[14:29] Their parents, their family, people from maybe friends of a rapist staying silent.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[14:35] Absolutely. Do you remember a scene in the film where the police commissioner says 97 percent of the rapes that happen, happen within your inner circle of trust? Only three percent is when there is an abduction. So when we’re talking about 97 percent that is happening within your inner trust of circle, it’s very important to speak, but there is more fear because you will rock the boat either with the family or with friends and you know, be basically it’s character assassination.

 

Rana Nawas:

[15:13] Yeah. Or neighbors, I think I saw in the movie a family, friends, relatives and neighbors.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[15:19] Yes.

 

Rana Nawas:

[15:19] Ninety seven percent.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[15:20] And that’s huge.

 

Rana Nawas:

[15:22] That’s massive.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[15:23] And I mean, you know, when people talk to me about, you know, who are your heroes? I mean, during this journey, Rana, I will tell you I don’t have any heroes which had been written about. I saw the heroes on the ground, ordinary people doing extraordinary things and they are my heroes. They gave me the strength to continue to do what I’m doing. In the film, we have a seven year old who was molested.

 

Rana Nawas:

[15:56] I was about to ask you. Yes.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[15:59] She comes from a poorer family and she lives in one of the shanties. So the news spreads very quickly. She was there at the police station with her little girl, basically making sure that the man who attempted this on her daughter was in jail. Now she could have easily said, you know what? She was molested but not raped. Let it go, keep it under wraps and move on with life. She left her five children at home with a neighbor, went to the police station and I told her, I said, that’s amazing. You don’t care what your neighbors think. And she looked at me and she said, why would I care? The shame is not on us. That — she is my hero. It is not easy to speak up. It’s not.

 

Rana Nawas:

[16:58] And Vibha, how did you find the strength to do this movie? Because I’m watching it and — my heart is breaking. I mean, who gang rapes a five-year-old? Who gang rapes a seven year old? I mean, what did you go to why this happens? I can’t even believe that people do this. How did you find the strength to get past that, to create a movie that builds a movement to break the silence?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[17:28] Rana, I didn’t have the strength and I doubted myself at least a hundred times, whether I’d be able to finish the film. When we got the call in, the police control command room on the five year old. We did not know who it was, but we had got a call and we reached the site and she was completely bloodied. We opened the door and as a mother of two young boys, the only thing that was going on in my mind was my own children because the age group was the same. We reached the hospital and her x ray was taken and they found a bottle and candles. I called up my husband and I said, I am not the one to tell the story. I can’t do it. And he said, you cannot unsee what you’ve seen and the only way you will heal is when you finish the story and one life gets saved. We were back and the police and control room after that night.

 

Rana Nawas:

[18:49] Amazing. And I mean for the police, was it — was it shocking or do they see this just so much?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[18:58] You know, they see it a lot and I think as police officers anywhere in the world, they’ve seen a lot, but I can tell you when we interviewed the officer on duty, he couldn’t. When I asked him, you know —

 

Rana Nawas:

[19:19] he said, I think he said, I have no words.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[19:21] Yes. And he basically just said, no cameras.

 

Rana Nawas:

[19:27] Yeah, I get it. But there were cameras and you’ve managed to turn this film into best broadcast campaign in the world. How did you reach so many people?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[19:40] You know, this film is so small and we are nobodies. And that’s why I say when your intent is right, the universe will conspire to make things happen. I think we are that story. We had no backing of a network, you know, this was completely, you know, it was home funded and as I say, I play a very small part. It’s incredible. People who’ve taken it forward, networks, documentaries in India have not arrived yet. People prefer Bollywood. People prefer the escape. So to make people even watch a documentary is a big deal. We have done 200 screenings where we did not even have the funds to serve water. We could just about book a theater and people came — and people came and there were no, there was no place available. People stood and watched the film. Viacom came to us and they broadcasted the film prime time on on a Sunday in seven regional languages across all their channels, so Vh1, MTV, Colors. Everyone on Sunday morning was watching this.

 

Rana Nawas:

[21:16] All across India.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[21:17] All across India. Any channel that you changed, only had “Daughters of Mother India” playing

 

Rana Nawas:

[21:24] And it was dubbed in the local language?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[21:26] It was dubbed in the local languages. People did not take money. Nobody came. I mean we had our checkbooks ready and nobody took money.

 

Rana Nawas:

[21:37] Everyone wants to be part of the movement. Everyone has had enough.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[21:38] Absolutely. Then one of our biggest cable operators, that’s called Tata Sky, you know, the person who handles acquisitions was there for one of my, you know, one of the screenings. He came up, he’s an Italian man. He came up to me, I’ve thought he was counsel general and he basically said, you know, I want this shown, and I told him, I said, you know what? Netflix worldwide has already taken it. They had their lawyers sit, look at the contract, see wherever there was, wherever the gaps were, they played the film “Daughters of Mother India” during women’s month, every hour by the hour. It went on for three continuous days.

 

Rana Nawas:

[22:24] Oh my goodness. Where, on what channels was it?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[22:26] It’s our biggest cable operators. The reach is 17 million people. This is what I mean.

 

Rana Nawas:

[22:33] So on a continuous loop for 3 days.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[22:35] On a loop. So, even if you are trying to miss “Daughters of Mother India,” you can’t because out of default the film would come up.

 

Rana Nawas:

[22:43] Do you have any idea how many millions of people have watched this? Is there any way you could know?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[22:46] Yes, I think, I mean the, the count came from Viacom and, you know, we had no money for publicity or anything but Viacom’s count came as 10 million.

 

Rana Nawas:

[22:57] Just from those three days.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[22:59] No, no, this is the Viacom. Just the, the simulcast release. We reached 10 million people and I believe with the cable operators, they said easy nine to 10.

 

Rana Nawas:

[23:14] Incredible, what an achievement for a little film that had no budget.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[23:18] And no publicity budget. And there is a company called Weber Shandwick. They are one of the biggest public relations company. They took us on pro bono and have supported the film from start to finish. They came on board before we won the national award from the president of India. So they believed in us much before the awards came in. So they’ve taken not even a rupee and supported this film. They’re always there when we’re there.

 

Rana Nawas:

[23:50] So I was going to ask you whether you had any pleasant surprises while making the film, but it sounds like you’ve had many, just from the interactions you’ve had, can you give us maybe another example?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[24:01] I am so incredibly grateful for this journey. Making the film was very hard. Just, you know, maneuvering with the police and getting access and being with the family of Gooria who was the gang rape survivor. Sometimes when I look at the film I’m like, did we really make this? I mean sometimes you get stuck with like your passport copy and you can’t get it cleared and I mean basic things and then we were like, did we really make this film and did all these people come together? Because we had the most powerful voices, you know, right from the additional, you know, the attorney general of the Supreme Court to you know, we had everyone in the film and given that we are nobodies, I’m surprised everyone came together. That was amazing. But after that, the screenings that followed, I think each one of them changed us as a person and now we’re just, we cannot stop.

 

Rana Nawas:

[25:04] So what’s next?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[25:07] You know, we were thinking about it and then, we had, you know, people who are actually working on the ground. I mean we’re just telling the story, but those who are actually working on the ground told us under no circumstances can you not make the sequel and you have to take the movement to the next level because the film has brought everybody together which is very hard to achieve. And we have actually followed the United Nations mandate, which is unless men are not involved, we cannot win this fight. This is not a women’s issue. This is for all of us. And if women are empowered, the men win too. And we have now shot. Actually it’s on the editing floor. We have shot this film in a place called Hareana. It’s the seat of patriarchy. Gender biases are at the worst. They’ve killed so many girls.

 

Rana Nawas:

[26:11] At birth.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[26:12] At birth, the female infanticide is the highest. And from the darkest corner, we have men who are fighting for the women. And so when, when I, when I looked at them and I said they have grown up with these gender biases, it’s in their blood. If they can do it, we have no excuses.

 

Rana Nawas:

[26:36] That’s right. And I completely agree on — in fact, the tagline for this podcast is when women win we all rise.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[26:47] That’s it, absolutely.

 

Rana Nawas:

[26:49] And you cannot do it without male allies, whether it’s your father or your husband or your brother, you know, you can’t do it without half the population.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[26:58] Absolutely.

 

Rana Nawas:

[26:59] Just the same way in the corporate world. You can’t survive with half the population.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[27:02] Absolutely. I mean, Rana, you have absolutely summarized it. You know, even even, the tagline when women, win we all do, and really this is what the sequel is saying and we have to be in this together.

 

Rana Nawas:

[27:20] And it’s only male voices here?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[27:21] It’s only male voices. They are incredible male voices. I’ve always believed. Let’s focus on what positive is being done. It’s very easy to criticize. It’s very easy to put down. Why not focus air time? Why not focus whatever we have on people who are making change happen because I truly believe it — one good thing multiplies, so let’s just focus on that you know one good person brings about changing too and then it’s multiplication of thoughts, which was also in the film with the theater group that said, you know, what we’re doing is we’re attempting to change one person

 

Rana Nawas:

[28:04] and then they’ll go home and change their family.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[28:07] Absolutely. So when people say, Oh my God, the problem is so big, how can we change the world? Don’t change the world. Just change your family and that is the biggest step that you can take and it’s doable.

 

Rana Nawas:

[28:26] Vibha, you’re incredible. I mean, to deal with such such difficult content and build a positive story around it or at least the message of hope, which is I think your objective. It’s incredible. So let’s talk about what got you here. Your life before daughters of mother India. Where were you? What were you doing? I mean, I believe it was the gang rape of Nebaya, that kind of summoned you back to India.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[28:53] Actually I’ve been in New York for 15 years. With my, with my family. My husband works on Wall Street. I have been a journalist so I was the team that launched CNBC into India. So I did business journalists. We moved to New York, so I had to rebuild. I went from an anchor reporter to watching a lot of TV trying to get a job. And after that I met my incredible partner. She is an academy award winner and much critically acclaimed and we made films for global warming for HBO, which is part of Al Gore’s film, a film that’s called too “Too Hot Not to Handle.” I made the film for the US government to stop violence against women. It’s part of the Emmy Award winning campaign and then, you know, life was great in New York and then my husband came to have Goldman Sachs private equity in India, so I was going to rebuild again and that’s when, you know, I was already working on social campaigns when Nirbiya happened. So I was very much in India, but what I saw, I had never witnessed something like this anywhere in the world. And that’s when “Dughters of Mother India” happened. It’s my first film as director and producer and after the film won the National Film Award. It’s equivalent to the Oscars and it’s from the president of the country. It’s the highest honor. Everything changed. So it’s a dream for any filmmaker in India to win the national award. I am extremely grateful that it came very early.

 

Rana Nawas:

[30:46] Fantastic. Congratulations.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[30:49] Thank you. Thank you.

 

Rana Nawas:

[30:50] But you didn’t just fall into filmmaking, you went to university and actually studied journalism and broadcasting.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[30:55] Yes, I went to Boston University. I’ve done journalism. And then I have good news to share. It’s just come in. Boston University has confirmed me with the honorary doctorate.

 

Rana Nawas:

[31:10] Oh, wow. That’s fantastic. Congrats.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[31:14] Thank you. And so the ceremony is in may.

 

Rana Nawas:

[31:19] May is a great time in Boston.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[31:20] Yes. It’s gorgeous. And I’m also commencement speaker. So receiving it from your alma mater is I think the two times I cried once was when I got the news of the national film award and the second time is when the honorary doctorate was given by the president. I think we only passed by his office but never dared to go in. So receiving the call was absolutely incredible.

 

Rana Nawas:

[31:50] So you obviously love what you do, but imagine a situation where you had to pick another profession. What would you attempt?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[31:58] You know I have been reporting since I was 10, reporting the news on what’s happening in the garden reporting school activities. So actually I think it just came very naturally. I loved to document and I love to tell a story. I’ve been really telling stories since I was very, very little, so I don’t know any other field. I could, if you told me at two in the morning, Vibha there is an edit to do, I would run in my pajamas. That’s how passionate I feel. And you know, in documentaries it’s a struggle every day. I think you get knocked down consistently, so if you don’t have that passion, you’re not going to survive it. There’s no money to be made. You do it for the issue and when change happens, those are your rewards. So I think I’m just grateful that I have this passion for this and nothing else.

 

Rana Nawas:

[33:03] It definitely helps to not want anything else. Right? It helps to know that because when I started my career I didn’t know what I wanted to be.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[33:10] Yes.

 

Rana Nawas:

[33:10] But I knew a lot of things I didn’t want to be. Which is helpful information.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[33:12] That’s right. Absolutely.

 

Rana Nawas:

[33:14] So who were your childhood heroes when you were 10 years old and telling stories? What stories were you telling?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[33:21] I did not have any childhood heroes as much as I just observed people and I think at that point it was my parents. My mother is extremely forward thinking. At times I feel she’s ahead of me. Given her age and her background, she’s very strongly believed that we must all cross the fault line and she’s done it constantly, you know, she’s always crossed the fault line and she is very particular about that. And my father, who, you know, at the age of 12, his father got murdered during the India-Pakistan war and he became a refugee child when he crossed the border. And today he’s made Dubai his home — absolutely loves it. At the age of 83, he has won the Forbes business leader of the year four times in a row. I mean, this time when he won it the fourth time, we were like, Papa, you’re not winning. So no one went. He was like, thank God I did because my family said after the third time it doesn’t happen. And he dedicated the award to everyone who’s 80 plus because he’s 83 and he got a standing ovation for that. He just believes, you know, do whatever you do, but put your heart and soul into it. It doesn’t matter what you do and don’t look for the rewards, they will come when you do it the right way. And you know, if you look at the Forbes Business List, my dad is one of the smallest, but I think he has been getting these awards because he’s done things the right way, in good times and bad times. I think he’s become the poster boy for banks cause he always does it the right way.

 

Rana Nawas:

[35:19] Wait, so your husband and your dad are bankers?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[35:21] Oh no, I said for the bankers because in Dubai, you know, because his ethics are so strong and it’s not his company size that’s so big, there must be a reason why they’re choosing him. And yes. So no, my husband’s wallstreet and my father owns a shipping company.

 

Rana Nawas:

[35:41] And we were talking about gender stereotypes earlier. And, in fact, gender stereotypes are imposed and absorbed by children.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[35:48] Yes.

 

Rana Nawas:

[35:48] Apparently between the ages of five and seven.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[35:51] Wow.

 

Rana Nawas:

[35:51] So, that whole good touch, bad touch happening at that age is actually, I think the exactly the right age. How did your parents shape you and I don’t know about your brothers and sisters. How was gender approached in your home as a child?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[36:08] I have an older brother and a younger sister and I remember when I was 18, I have to admit all my friends were getting married and they were having very big weddings and I was loving it. So I looked at my parents and said, what are you doing? I mean, you know, you’re not with it. I need to be reviewing resumes right now and you know please line them up and I would like a very big wedding and get on with it. Whatever we saw we need to beat that. And my brother was already at Boston University and he was like, if any one of you do this, I’ll have you all arrested. She is going to university. And that is clear. And actually that’s how I landed up at Boston University. My brother was already there and he said, you will be that, and little did I know that that step, which changed my entire life because I graduated. After the degree, I came back, started working on broadcasting and I think with education, everybody’s mindset changes. You know? I remember coming back to India and telling my father, okay, make the calls and get me a job, and he said, is that what we’ve done? Is that why we’ve sent you to university? Figure it out yourself, stand in queue and get a job. And that’s how we — it changed everything. I remember my first job I think was $50 a month because I was the lowest of the lowest. I was serving coffee. I was you know getting one footage to the other role. But you learned, you learned what it was to be at the bottom and then you worked hard and rose up the ladder.

 

Rana Nawas:

[38:02] Incredible. What do you think the world will look like for our sons and daughters?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[38:08] You know, I spoke to a lady, a lady judge, she’s actually the highest ranking judge in India and she said that our generation will be the generation of strife because we will be challenging everything, so we may not win, we will be doing the fight, but I think by the time the next generation comes in, we will have paved the path and they will have to take the movement forward. So actually we are in tough times because we’ve grown up seeing it and now we’re questioning it and nobody likes to be questioned because they’d been raised a certain way. So there will be a lot of strife in the families. But you know what, this is the good fight and we’ve just got to be at it. So I hope, I hope that, you know, Rana, your son’s and my sons become the role models for the next generation and they do the right thing.

 

Rana Nawas:

[39:09] It’s up to us, isn’t it?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[39:11] Absolutely. We play a greater role. We are mother of sons. We keep saying, what are we teaching our daughters or, you know, how are we changing our daughters? I don’t think it’s about them, it’s about how we raise our sons and they, they are not raised with an unnecessary sense of entitlement. That’s the biggest problem.

 

Rana Nawas:

[39:35] Again, you can’t address half. You can’t address half the population and expect to solve a social problem.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[39:41] Absolutely. And we’ve got to get them in.

 

Rana Nawas:

[39:43] Yup. Absolutely. Well, okay. I just have one last question, which is, is there a question that you’d like people to ask that they never do?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[39:53] Actually, after 200 screenings, people have asked me, most of the, you know, most of the questions, but I think there’s one thing that I would tell everyone that they are very powerful by themselves and never underestimate that. And when we talk about change, everyone needs to focus on themselves and say how can I be that change and this world will change.

 

Rana Nawas:

[40:28] I completely agree. And everybody has to use their own platform. Your platform is film and your one little person who made a film that changed, really, you can say change the world and so everybody can use their platform to have that change.

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[40:42] So let’s not point fingers. Let’s not wait for change to happen. Be that change yourself.

 

Rana Nawas:

[40:49] One last thing actually, Vibha, but where can people watch “Daughters of Mother India?”

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[40:53] “Daughters of Mother India” has been leaked in many places, but the right platform is we are on netflix worldwide and netflix worldwide has subtitled it in seven languages. So you know, choose your language and we’re there.

 

Rana Nawas:

[41:10] And if people would like to get in touch with you, how best to do that?

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[41:13] They can find me, or you know, just search me my email address is there. My number is there. I am out there. I am not so tech savvy but you will not believe it people are tweeting as Vibha also. So I don’t know what’s happening, but you know what? You can reach me. I’m there. You will find me.

 

Rana Nawas:

[41:37] Thank you so much Vibha. I cannot tell you what a pleasure this has been.

 

 

Vibha Bakshi:

[41:40] Thank you so much. Thank you so much. This is beautiful. Thank you.

 

Rana Nawas:

[41:46] I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. You can check out show notes and more episodes at Rananawas.com/win or search When Women Win on Itunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. I’d also love to hear your feedback and ideas for who I should bring on the show. You can find me on instagram @Rananawas. Thanks and have a great day.

 

 

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