A groupâÂÂof stern women are seen carrying sticks in their hands; riding bikes in twos. Their eyes alert, they look ready for trouble. Trouble, after all, is not something they are worried about. They have had enough and made enough. Been in the news for taking on what few want to mess with – religion.
Be it the Shani Shingnapur Temple in Pune or more recently, Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai, the Bhumata Brigade led by Trupti Desai has taken up cudgels to make every space accessible for women. Now, they are on a mission to rid the streets of Pune of harassers.
The life and times of this outfit is now featured in the new short documentary titled, The Angry Goddesses produced by Blush, a channel of Culture Machine. Aniket Tari, director, says he had wished to film them since the time they made news for breaching the all male sanctum sanctorum of Maharashtra’s famed Shani Shignapur temple in April this year. “I found it interesting.
A group that does not identify as atheists are challenging the dogmas that curb freedom of women. Given that we have completed 69 years of independence, it was intriguing that people still need to fight these battles,” he says.
Tari connected with Desai after a controversy around Lucknow’s Aishbagh Eidgah. The leaders there agreed with the argument of Bhumata Brigade and allowed women to enter. “A journalist friend had arranged a meeting and it was fascinating. The brigade has women from different religions and social strata, but they all fighting for one cause,” he
recounts. But then, one does wonder about the negative implications of encouraging vigilante groups, and so did Tari.
“The first thing I asked her was why is their approach so anarchist. She explained that somehow, a group of agitated women seem anarchist to us but the image of a group of agitated men is commonplace,” he says.
In the video, Desai argues that though they do not take law upon themselves, the condition in many villages is such that groups like theirs are the need of the hour. She thinks insecurity is evident among men as more and more women are coming forward to claim their freedom and rights.
“There is a hypocrisy in cheering women when they win medals in Olympics but deriding them when they demand their rights,” she says. Desai now looks to expand the brigade, which has members from 21 districts in Maharashtra, to other parts of the country.
“We want to fight for entry of women to the Sabarimala temple, ensure their safety in public places, and more,” she signs off.