Paromita Vohra

Filmmaker

Paromita Vohra is a filmmaker, writer and curator whose work has focuses on urban life, popular culture, gender, politics and art. Her films have been widely screened in festivals, galleries and popular screening spaces, besides being included in university syllabi around the world.

Her films as director are Partners in Crime (2011), a documentary on culture, markets and the arts Morality TV and the Loving Jehad: A Thrilling Tale (2007), a documentary on tabloid TV news and moral policing(Best Short Documentary, Int.Video Fest, Trivandrum), Q2P,(2006) a film on toilets and the city (Best Documentary IFFLA and Bollywood and Beyond, Stuttgart); Where’s Sandra?(2005), a playful exploration of stereotypes of Catholic girls from a Bombay suburb; Work In Progress (2004) an impressionistic portrait of the World Social Forum held in Mumbai; Cosmopolis: Two Tales of a City,(2004), a short film which explores Bombay’s cosmopolitan self image through land and food politics, which won an award for mixing fiction and non-fiction at the Digital Film Festival, Un-limited Girls (2002), a personal take on engagements with feminism in urban India (Feminist News Award, Women’s Film Festival in Seoul; Best Film Award, Aaina Film Festival, India); A Short Film About Time (2000), a fiction short about the funny-sad relationship between a young woman with a broken heart, her psychotherapist and his watch;A Woman’s Place,(1999) an hour-length documentary for PBS looking at how women in India, South Africa and the USA negotiate the space between law and custom; and  Annapurna (1995), about a women food worker’s cooperative in Bombay’s textile mill area.

Retrospectives of her work have been held at the Lille 3000 (2006) festival and Persistence/Resistance (2007), a festival of political documentary in India. Her films have also been screened at the Tate Modern and will feature in an upcoming exhibition at the Wellcome Art Gallery in London.

Her films as writer are the internationally released feature Khamosh Pani/Silent Waters directed by Sabiha Sumar(Golden Leopard, Locarno Film Festival, 2003, Best Screenplay, Kara Film Festival, 2003), the documentaries A Few Things I Know About Her (Silver Conch, Mumbai International Film Festival 2002), If You Pause: In a Museum of Craft, The Stuntmen of Bollywood and the faux-documentary Skin Deep (dir: Reena Mohan).

Her writings, fiction and non-fiction have been included in various anthologies, among them Bombay Meri Jaan: Writings on Mumbai, Electric Feather: the Tranquebar Book of Erotica, Recess: The Penguin Book of Schooldays, Dreaming Different: New Feminist Writings from Around the World, Signs (Spring 209) and First Proof: Penguin New Writing from India. She contributes to several publications including Outlook, India Today, Tehelka, Time Out,Mumbai and currently writes a popular column in Sunday Mid-day a Mumbai newspaper.

She was principal mentor of the British Council-Saregama India Screenwriting Workshop 2008 and teaches writing for film as visiting faculty in numerous universities in India and abroad.

As part of A Woman’s Place project – a collective of women using media for social change- she has worked extensively with young people through workshops focusing on creativity, politics and media, especially the Girls Media Group, a media exchange project between teen girls in New York and Mumbai. As part of the artist’s collective @Culture she has been engaged with making culture an important political part of the World Social Forum process.

In the past few years she has been curating documentary and alternative film programs from time to time, among them a program on films about the city for the National Gallery of Modern Art (2002) and a program of films from Films Division, the government documentary producer, at the International Video Festival of Trivandrum (2010) as well as a program on the history of the Indian Music video for the Film South Asia festival in Kathmandu (2007).