Elevate Difference

Reviews by Pulkit Datta

Draupadi – Will My Spirit Live On?

On the heels of International Women’s Day, the Indo-American Arts Council in New York City hosted the North American premiere of a unique and thought-provoking Indian play called Draupadi – Will My Spirit Live On? Produced and conceptualized by Shivani Wazir Pasrich, and co-directed by Pasrich and Tina Johnson, Draupadi weaves a tale from the Hindu epic Mahabharata with an intense contemporary story of a woman battling her experience with sexual abuse. The play sheds light on the plight of many women suffering such abuse, connecting a mythological tale with a modern parallel, and delivers a mostly engaging experience.

No One Killed Jessica

In 1999 model/waitress Jessica Lall refused to serve drinks to a rowdy man in a crowded bar, who then shot her point blank in a fit of rage. That man turned out to be the son of an influential politician, but with 300 witnesses it seemed like a straightforward case. However, in an unfortunate example of the rot in the judicial system and rampant corruption, all the witnesses were either threatened or paid off, and the evidence was tampered with, leading to the release of the killer. No One Killed Jessica by Rajkumar Gupta follows the initial courtroom campaign relentlessly pursued by Jessica’s sister, Sabrina (Vidya Balan), and then the news media battle for the reopening of the case led by fictionalized reporter Meera (Rani Mukherji).


Director Vinay Shukla returns to the big screen after five years with his latest film Mirch. Starring Arunoday Singh, Konkona Sen Sharma, Raima Sen, Shahana Goswami, Sushant Singh, and a whole host of supporting actors, this film is witty, cleverly told, and has delightful performances. It addresses the issue of women’s emancipation from restrictive roles in traditional storytelling, and ends up walking a very thin line between making a profound statement about empowerment and being potentially offensive for painting empowered women as cunning.

Aarekti Premer Galpo (Just Another Love Story)

Rituparno Ghosh completely reinvents himself from director to actor and delivers a gripping performance in this very lyrical film by Kaushik Ganguly. Just Another Love Story (original Bengali title: Aarekti Premer Galpo) is about a filmmaker Abhiroop Sen (played by Ghosh) who makes a documentary about Chapal Bhaduri, the legendary jatra (Bengali folk theatre) actor who spent his entire career playing female roles on stage, primarily as Goddess Shitala.

Monica Droga: Indie Musician, Bollywood Star, Feminist

Gone are the times when people would migrate only to the West to find better lives. Now we witness a reversal of sorts, with NRIs going back to India to seek the same opportunities that their parents or grandparents had left India to find. Monica Dogra is one such NRI who is rocking the independent music scene in the homeland.


Sometimes you stumble upon really small, obscure films that leave such an impact that you just want as many people to see it as possible. Desigirls by Ishita Srivastava is one such film. Filmed as a graduate thesis project at New York University, this twenty-minute documentary explores a refreshingly new topic—the South Asian lesbian community in New York City. I had the opportunity to watch the film and speak to the director afterward.