INDIA / 2001 / Hindi / Color / Video / 51 min
Director, Photography, Producer: Rahul Roy
Script: Saba Dewan, Rahul Roy
Editing: Reena Mohan
Sound: Asheesh Pandya
Source: Rahul Roy
A-19 Gulmohar Park, New Delhi 110049, INDIA
Phone: 91-11-6515161 Fax: 91-11-6960947
Aslam sells medicines for sexual problems on the pavement of Meena Bazaar near Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. Khalifa Barkat presides over an akhara (traditional training gym) in the adjacent park and puts a group of young men through the moral and physical grind of wrestling. Through the park and the market pass hundreds of men every day. The Performance explores the instability and insecurity of working class lives in Old Delhi and how attitudes towards masculinity and male sexuality affect them.
[Directors Statement] My personal involvement with gender issues began in my college days when I was requisitioned to play the “man” in a feminist street play being staged by some women friends. My involvement with gender issues continued after the completion of my masters in Film and TV Production when I codirected several documentaries on women. However right through my engagement with women’s issues there was something that made me uncomfortable but what that was always eluded me. Initially I thought that it was my sex which made me uncomfortable taking public positions on women’s issues but then I realized soon enough it was too essentialist a position. It is only in the recent past that I realized what was bothering me.
My encounter with feminist ideas did contribute to a process of change within me, and being challenged in relationships, friendships and at work forced me to look at my own ideas and behavior. However, this change somehow never translated into work which examined my own gender. In the last few years I have realized that the subject / object of analysis has to be my own and other men’s lives and the intricate relations of power into which we have entered with the men and women around us. My films never consciously reflected my gender position and this realization for me has been quite a liberating experience and spurred me on a journey where my documentaries are now an attempt towards a more textured understanding of the diversity of Indian men’s experiences, attitudes, beliefs, practices, situations, sexualities and institutions.
Did his MA in Film and TV production at the Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi in 1987 and has worked as an independent documentary filmmaker since graduation. Over the years, films like Dharmayuddha, Nasoor, Invisible Hands Unheard Voices, Khel, When Four Friends Meet... and The Performance have focused on issues related to communalism and gender. Currently working on a series of documentaries on the theme of masculinities under the MacArthur Fellowship. Besides making documentaries, has been writing and conducting workshops on masculinities in the South Asian region.