How can we inspire women to be themselves unabashedly and see their happy and liberated selves represented?


Graduation Project
B.Des 2016
Animation & Film Design
student portfolio︎︎︎

ASURA is an animated short film about women’s agency over their bodies and life choices. It examines the structures affecting autonomy and agency in the context of an urban Indian woman's life through a first-person narrative. The film questions notions of GOOD and EVIL within the Brahmanical patriarchy in India by questioning the hypocritical standards that men and women are held against from a young age: their behaviour, character, self-worth and value in society.

This film represented my lived experiences and what it meant to grow up as a ‘female’ in urban India. I examined the context within which feminism and socio-economic independence clash with stigmas, structural inequalities, superstitions and gender-based violence. I realised that society controls women out of fear that they will attain emancipation and make decisions for themselves that may not align with societal expectations. This patriarchal social structure is maintained by associating SHAME with a woman’s body, desires, sexuality and choices. I wished to represent a confident, assertive and unapologetic woman character that was missing in contemporary visual media culture. Indian society is generally intolerant towards the existence of a sexually liberated woman, and because of this, a lot of them live a dichotomous existence, balancing two versions of themselves. This film tells their story, our story. In my bid to represent a ‘sexually emancipated’ woman, I was using the same camera techniques and angles that represent femininity as a performance for the male gaze. As a means to subvert the male gaze, I focused on the unglamorous subtleties of female pleasure.

I grappled with questions of WHY I wanted to depict these things as I received feedback on how they seemed trivial in comparison to more pressing issues that need to be tackled. I remained apprehensive about animating ‘explicit’ content because I worried that my character would be labelled ‘vulgar’, superficial or unnecessarily titillating. Despite my strong conviction in the story, it was disheartening when family members did not understand my work and thought of me as too radical and unnecessarily controversial. Talking about personal experiences that are taboo is not easy, especially when we continue to live in, interact with and are subject to the judgement stemming from social systems we criticize. Being conscious of the impact of our work makes us deliberate our choices to ensure that we are sensitive in our storytelling.

Although this film has the potential to offend certain people, it is meant for an audience that is on the fence about these issues, and inspire the women/girls my age to be themselves unabashedly and see their happy and liberated selves represented. This film is a stepping stone to the kind of work I want to make. I want to tell 'personal but universal' stories about people from marginalized communities, women and queer people. I would like to carry this spirit forward and explore how I can play with nuance/ subtlety.


  • People: Shilpa Das, the late Immanuel Suresh, the late Mohini Menon, all my feminist friends
  • Projects: Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s thesis Castes in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development; Sara Naqvi’s Period Embroidery
  • Books: Gender Trouble (Judith Butler)
  • Podcast: The Guilty Feminist
  • The Body Positivity Movement
  • Films & TV Series - Breakwater(2019), Counterfeit Kunkoo(2018), Unorthodox, I Still Hide to Smoke, What Will People Say, Maa, Fleabag, The Other Song, Lipstick Under My Burkha, Made in Heaven, Working Moms, Lust Stories, Body Beautiful, Britannia, Our Skin, Paak, Brown Number, Yellow Fever, To Venner, Brave, Mulan, Breadwinner, Persepolis.
  • Webcomic: Lore Olympus