TALES FROM MACHOLAND (2019 - 2020)
Filmed in Delhi, “Tales from Macholand” is an eight-part immersive Virtual Reality (VR) documentary series that allows audiences to step into the “virtual shoes” of eight Indian men belonging to different backgrounds.
Unlike the one-dimensional representations of manhood in Indian cinema and popular culture, these stories explore the complexities of learning to become a man in India today, showcasing experiences of men who struggle against traditional gender roles and stereotypes encapsulated within Indian masculinity. Even though patriarchy is system that exits to maintain male dominance and control as the status quo, my research shows that many Indian men struggle to fit into these compulsively heteronormative frameworks of Indian masculinity that are emblematic of a nation defined by male supremacy; a Mardistan (Macholand).
Despite being the beneficiaries of a patriarchal power structures that places them above women and other sexual minorities, Indian men’s lives are simultaneously constrained by patriarchy in terms of choosing who they can love, who they will marry and what kind of families they are allowed to have. In characterizing India as a “Macholand,” I deploy the term to simultaneously call attention to the power and privileges that accompany being a male-bodied individual, as well as the responsibilities and limitations imposed by hegemonic masculinity that constrict the kind of life choices Indian men are allowed to make.
My research also shows that in a society deeply divided along caste, class and religious lines, becoming a man is often a violent process that intersects with these social hierarchies on intimate and structural levels; it often entails learning to exercise power upon those who are less powerful, especially women and sexual minorities. The series will also explore the role social media plays in informing adolescent sexual development given the ubiquity of pornography circulating via platforms like WhatsApp that has an out-sized influence in informing social attitudes in the absence of comprehensive sex education within Indian school curricula. These stories will also interrogate men’s relationship with the women in their lives, and how they negotiate questions of privilege, power, consent and respect.
2019 American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) Performing Arts Fellowship & 2019 Fulbright-Nehru Academic Research Award
AJK Mass Communication Media Research Centre,
Jamia Millia Islamia University (New Delhi)