Earthling Koushalya on the need to discuss body shaming in her upcoming short film, ‘En Udambu’

Actor Semmalar in a still from En Udambu | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement 

“Why should an unpleasant remark about one’s body affect a woman?” asks filmmaker Earthling Koushalya, as she discusses her new short film En Udambu that puts the spotlight on body shaming. “The trigger to make the film was a spate of recent media reports that said how body-shamed women sometimes even end their lives. It could just be a video featuring them going viral for wrong reasons.”

Earthling Koushalya   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

In En Udambu, a young woman, played brilliantly by actor Semmalar Annam, does something when two men attempt to blackmail her with a video of hers that they have shot secretly. The film ends with a message ‘#mybody, mytemple’ and shows real women drawn from across the country and from abroad, striking a self hug pose to show their love for one’s self. “Even if a single woman takes a stand like my protagonist, my film has served its purpose,” declares Earthling, who prefers to call herself an ‘artivist’

“Why should women feel they are reduced to nothing when they fall victims to a perverted action? Instead, they should find strength and make the perverted powerless. There is definitely a feminine wave. I hope #mybody, mytemple turns into a movement and make women feel empowered.”

Anthadhi poster   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement 

Based out of Auroville in Puducherry, Koushalya has been making shorts, documentaries, and feature films under her banner Accessible Horizon Films for over a decade. Her first short film Anthadhi (in Malayalam) spoke of a LGBT couple. The film got over one million views on YouTube and also won the Devaki Memorial Award for Women Empowerment. Her other Tamil feature film Ashvamitra featuring Harish Uthaman portrayed the relationship between a speech therapist and a child and won an international award. 

Her team, during their stint in the US, also made a documentary on NYC (New York City) subway music. “We work out of a small studio space in Auroville. Though we haven’t got a big break in commercial cinema, our films have won accolades at international film festivals including the one in Kerala, Auroville, Los Angeles, Stuttgart, Germany, and Illinois. It’s the creative process of making a film that matters,” says Koushalya, who is inspired by graphic novels like Habibi by Craig Thompson, Chicken and Plums by Marjane Satrapi, and V for Vendetta by Alan Moore & Illustrated by David Lloyd.

One of her upcoming projects is a three-part documentary on female objectification in films. “Misogyny and patriarchy is normalised, especially in film songs. One of our previous short films made by our team called Pombala Pombalayya Irukkanum dealt with this subject in the form of a conversation featuring a girl and her lover. I have interviewed many women from different countries for my films and documentaries. Be it London or South Africa, things are no different for women. It is unsettling.” 

En Udambu will soon be released on Accessible Horizon Films YouTube channel