Everyone Bleeds: Short Filmmaker From Kolkata Tells You How Period Pain Is Different For Everyone

Everyone Bleeds: Short Filmmaker From Kolkata Tells You How Period Pain Is Different For Everyone

Every woman would unanimously agree that there is no one way or one sign to look out for when you feel that it’s that time of the month again. Aunty Flo rarely catches you unawares. Along with the period, what comes along is a whole range of physical and mental symptoms, including aches, pains and fatigue. Now, everybody will not experience the same kind of symptoms. Every woman is different and so are their bodies. Even though 20% of women experience severe dysmenorrhea that hampers their daily lives, there are women who don’t experience any kind of pain at all. I, personally do not experience any pain during my periods, but suffer from extreme PMS mood swings and anxiety before its onset.

Tanvi Chowdhary, a video artist and short filmmaker based in Kolkata, in capturing her own experience with menstruation, addresses the fact that everyone experiences this biological phenomenon differently. With a poem typed down on her phone, Tanvi proceeded to document herself while on her period and also attached both old and new footages of herself along with it. This was made for her friend’s NGO, @paintitred_in, which was running a campaign called ‘Everyone Bleeds’ on menstrual education and awareness. Even though initially, she was concerned that speaking of her relatively pain-free period experience might trivialise the movement, her friend reminded her that the point of the campaign was to tell people of how every menstruator can experience and deal with periods so very differently.

Here’s an account of Homegrown’s quick chat session with Tanvi Chowdhary and her artistic visions.

I. Things/People that have inspired you as an artist...

It’s incredibly difficult to pinpoint my inspirations but when I sit to think of it: old archival photographs, film photographs clicked by my father and grandfather documenting our family history and home. Post impressionist paintings, films that leave me thinking like the ones by Wong Kar Wai, Celine Sciamma and most importantly Indian filmmaker, Satyajit Ray. Growing up, stories like The Night Train at Deoli and Postmaster really moved me. I was deeply inspired by the screenwriting of Naseem, made in 1995. Poets like Nazeer Benarsi, who wrote my most beloved ghazal- Yeh Inayaten Ghazab Ki, sung by Jagjit Singh. My most consistent inspiration has been music, it places me in times I’ve lived before and times I hope to live someday. Music by S. D Burman from the 50s and early 60’s, especially those from Pyaasa, written by Sahir Ludhianvi. I could go on, but in essence, anything that has moved me with it’s depth and has planted itself as part of my being and identity inspires me, this include all the strangers I’ve made an effort to know and observe and encounters that have stayed with me.

II. How is your creative process like?

When all of life comes to happen around me, there are people and a disorder of events, a moment exists when no one knows that they’re being watched by me. Not the breeze, not the people, not the light, none of the surroundings. This moment stays with me as a timeless observation and I wish to translate it into stories in the form of moving images. I create because it brings me closest to knowing myself and expressing myself. If I’ve had an insight, I have the most profound urge to share it with people and the most effective way for me to do so is to translate it into writing and film. If I could get someone to reflect and feel things they’ve forgotten they could feel, even if only for a moment, I’d believe my purpose is fulfilled.

III. Would you like to make a film on India?

Yes. Saving forests and valleys from being exploited for resources is something that I feel is the need of the hour. I’d like to document indigenous communities inhabiting these spaces, up close and personal, try to navigate through their perils and how they need to be protected.

IV. Which is your favourite piece of work of your own & why?

It’s this screenplay I’ve been working on, it’s a work in progress. It’s called “Gulkhanah” which means Home of Roses. It’s a feature film script and while I can’t speak much about it, I can tell you that it’s going to be my favourite piece of work because every time I sit down to write it, I feel like my heart pours out.

V. One track you’re currently listening to?

The End of the World by Skeeter Davis, 1962

VI. A project you wish you were a part of and why?

I wish I’d written the script for Waterlilies directed by Celine Sciamma because I think the most delicate and honest portrayal of unrequited love.

VII. One place in your city you always go to when you need to find inspiration?

I love walking through the lanes of Southern Avenue and Golpark in Calcutta. There are so many Chhatim trees there; I find the scent of their flowers so inspiring.

You can check out her film here.

Check out her Instagram here.

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