Considering OTT release for her short film Natkhat, Vidya Balan says such movies are the first step to change mindsets, in the wake of Bois Locker Room scandal.

The Bois Locker Room controversy has again brought forth the deep-rooted patriarchy in our society and how it unfortunately normalises violence against women. “We cannot do away with centuries of patriarchy, overnight,” says Vidya Balan, who had underlined the importance of consent in relationships with her short film, Natkhat. Featuring her in the lead, the story revolves around a mother who inculcates the ideas of gender equality and respect for women, in her son from a tender age.

The actor believes that the recent controversy — where an FIR has been filed against a bunch of teenage boys from prominent Delhi schools for sharing objectionable pictures of underage girls on an Instagram group and engaging in conversations about rape — is a wake-up call for the country. “It makes you realise how we are products of patriarchy. These are young kids who are impressionable, and that’s where upbringing comes into play. Friends, family, the educational system and media are all collectively responsible [in influencing young minds, thereby effecting change]. Through Natkhat, we have tried to show that change has to begin at home. Preaching doesn’t yield anything. So, in the film, the mother systematically tries to change a child’s perspective of power equation, gender equality, respect and more, through stories. Conversations around the role of parenting, and what constitutes consent should be constantly evolving. We are both victims and perpetrators of patriarchy,” states the actor.

Though she understands that cinema is an all-pervasive medium, Balan opines that it, alone, cannot change social patterns. “It’s too tall an expectation from films. When an opportunity presents itself, we are keen to tell a story that addresses social issues. At the same time, media and films have a peripheral role to play in effecting social change.”

The actor-producer is contemplating a direct-to-web release of her short film. “The project was to travel to a few festivals, but they have been cancelled. Some OTT platforms have shown interest in picking it up. Ronnie [Screwvala, co-producer] and I are evaluating the options available; we want to ensure that the film reaches maximum people. We wanted to take the film to every school in the country.”