Friday, September 18, 2020

Kapila ji and IAWRT India: Aradhana Kohli Kapur Remembers

Dr Kapila Vatsyayan

Dec 25, 1928 - Sep 16, 2020

Kapila ji and IAWRT India: Aradhana Kohli Kapur Remembers

IAWRT India has, since its inception, been closely associated with Dr.Kapila Vatsyayan, perhaps an offshoot of her relationship with the late Jai Chandiram, our founder. In fact the much awaited and acclaimed annual Asian Women’s Film Festival held at the India International Centre began as a part of the Asia Project headed by Dr.Vatsyayan to bring to the fore voices of women from across borders in Asia. In 2005 as she spearheaded the Asia Project in its second phase she asked Jai Chandiram to organize a festival of documentary films, long and short, made by Asian women, as she firmly believed a concentrated effort was required to provide an inclusive space for women to express their creativity across different mediums. Films to her were a very important and effective means to do so.

Each year she would advise, guide and inaugurate the festival as a firm but involved matriarch. Her first question was always: So what are you going to do this year? She had a great eye for the new, the unique. Films from smaller nations in Asia, from marginalized, minority communities, were of special interest as were audio installations. For her all art was sacred be it sculpture, embroidery, photography, painting et al.

The high standards of professionalism and aesthetics that she set by example will always be our guiding principles at IAWRT India. Every year, she would quietly walk in a little before time for the Inauguration ceremony without fuss inspect the stage the flower decoration and always, as a mark of respect, she would take her footwear off before climbing the stage. On March 5, 2020, like every year, she attended our opening ceremony, lit the lamp and spoke about her late friend Jai and her vision for IAWRT.  Sadly, this would probably be her last public event as the COVID pandemic broke soon after.

Even as the entire cultural world feels the loss at her passing,  we at IAWRT India do so just that much more for we have truly lost one of our ‘founding mothers’. She would have smiled at that phrase ‘founding mothers’ because she, above all, epitomised the feminine as the source - the beej of all creativity.

Kapila ji with IAWRT members and filmmakers at IAWRT 2020 Film Festival, IIC.