Name of the film Counterfeit Kunkoo

Directed by Reema Sengupta

Cinematography Harshvir Oberai

EditingReema Sengupta

Year 2017

CountryIndia

Duration15 min

LanguageHindi (with Eng subtitles)

About the film

In a country where marital rape is not a legal crime, it took a lot for Smita to escape an abusive marriage. She lives in a one room apartment in Mumbai, earning her living by making imitation mangalsutras (necklace worn by married women). But the recent tranquility of her life is shaken when the doorbell rings. Smita finds herself fighting beasts of a different kind as she discovers a strange pre-requisite to renting a house in middle-class Mumbai. Will Smita find her space? Is there any hope for liberation - societal and/or sexual? Will the doorbell ever stop ringing - again and again? Counterfeit Kunkoo isn’t a feisty feminist retort to the deep-seated misogyny that finds its way into everyday life. It is an exploration of the idiosyncrasies that come with it, the battles one must fight, and whether winning or losing those battles matters at all.

Director’s Note

‘Counterfeit Kunkoo’ is a narrative drama set in Mumbai that speaks about housing discrimination, marital rape and reclaiming one’s sexuality. In a country where marital rape is not a legal crime, where a woman’s very name is defined by her husband's name, the fight to live a dignified existence begins at the struggle for separation but is far from over at the separation itself.

Counterfeit Kunkoo has been a very personal journey for me because my mother went through a traumatising ordeal when she was house hunting as a single woman.

Women even in one of the most progressive cities in India, seem to need a husband, no matter how abusive he is, for society to believe they are ‘respectable’. This is only one manifestation of how much of a woman’s identity is judged by her marital status. An entire person reduced to the vermillion (kunkoo) on her forehead and the string of black and gold beads (mangalsutra) around her neck; signs of marriage worn only by the woman, not the man. Counterfeit Kunkoo is an exploration of the idiosyncrasies that come with the deep-seated misogyny that finds its way into everyday life in India, the battles one must fight, and whether winning or losing those battles matters at all in the first place.

Director Biography

Reema Sengupta is a young writer-director-editor based in Mumbai. She has directed narrative films, music-videos, commercials, interactive video installations and after-movies across India, UK, South Korea and the US. She was awarded the prestigious Asian Film Academy Fellowship (2012), where she represented India at the Busan International Film Festival. The International Green Screen Lab 2012 selected Reema's first feature film script. Reema’s first short-film - ‘The Tigers, They’re all Dead’ won fourteen awards, including the IDPA Award for Excellence 2013. She graduated from the University of Westminster, London in 2012,