Director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, who was at the centre of a controversy over his film "S Durga", says what happened with him was not a unique incident but merely a pushback from a patriarchal society which is uncomfortable when challenged.
The Malayalam movie, that dominated the headlines for weeks after it was unceremoniously dropped from the Indian Panorama section of IFFI last year, is finally up for release on April 6.
Sasidharan says the society behaves like a spoilt sport, especially when women, who had earlier accepted their role as an 'obedient, submissive' individual, call out its hypocrisy.
"We are told that father is the most powerful person in the family and then come uncles and brothers. The mother comes after them. And what is a mother primarily doing? She is washing clothes, cooking for you, cleaning. If a mother starts going out, say, to the cinema halls - she becomes a bad influence.
"Suddenly, she'll be expelled from the circle of morality. And now in modern times, there are conflicts. Earlier, women used to accept the roles set by the society for them. But now they have started revolting - they have started speaking up. So the patriarchy is in direct war with this conflict," the director told PTI in an interview.
Sasidharan says it was not difficult to understand why his movie, earlier titled "Sexy Durga", was treated as a threat as it raises serious concerns about women's safety in the society that regards itself as the custodian of all that is "good and pure".
"It's not easy to deal with this thousand years old system, and if you try to change something you'll face a lot of trouble. That's what happened with me. (But) This is the right time to point out the this hypocrisy - to discuss and debate, then only the society will progress. Otherwise we will be stuck in this same circle."
The director says through his story, he wanted to examine what leads men to ill treat women.
"There is a disparity in the society's approach towards women. We consider her a goddess, mother and sister but in newspapers you see lots of cases of outrage against women. It made me think 'why is this disparity a constant in our culture?
"Hypocrisy is laid bare when you find a woman according to your convenience and don't leave the chance to molest or rape her. This needs to be analysed."
Explaining the thought behind the original title, Sasidharan says even after the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape, atrocities committed against women continue to be on the rise.
"It was not a sex crime, it was as if somebody was attacking humanity," he adds.
The director says the society's worship of Durga, like any deity, is one of convenience.
"We consider Durga as the powerful warrior goddess. When the time comes, she can even come to Shiva's aid who is unable to destroy the asuras. But will we protect the girl on the street if her name is Durga?"
He says he is not a director who can be called a "crowd puller" and his sole purpose is to speak his mind.
"I'm not making films to make someone happy or hurt them. I'm making films for my purpose. It's not for earning money. If I wanted to do that I would have made a love story with superstars."
The film has been doing the festival rounds and even won accolades such as the Hivos Tiger Award at the 2017 International Film Festival Rotterdam.
"S Durga" released last week in Kerala with the help of a major crowdfunding campaign.
Sasidharan says he does not want his cinema to be restricted to a region.
Despite the cultural differences, he says, the people have one thing in common: the Indian psyche, which he explores in the film.
"We need to correct the problems of our Indian psyche. If you're staying away from the debate, saying 'India is great', 'we have a great culture' and what not, then it is fake nationalism," he says.
"If you are really a nationalist, you need to identify the problems of the nation and try to solve them. And if someone is pointing out those problems, you need to listen. You can disagree and make a counter-argument. But you need to listen," he adds.
"With respect to the convenience of people, we will have screenings mostly during the weekends. The screenings are currently scheduled for April 6, 7 and 8. Many more screenings will be added further," he says.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)