Is This Love? Kya Yahi Pyar Hai?

Filmmaker Q&A with Director Gayatri Parameswaran

What motivated you to make this film?

In India, intimate partner violence is so commonplace yet so taboo to talk about. And so a lot of young people end up not knowing how to spot it and deal with it. know of so many women who have been in abusive relationships and yet are not able to tell the signs themselves. From a survey we found out that young people are not able to tell the signs of abuse in a relationship and often popular culture such as Bollywood give them patriarchal and misogynistic ideas of how relationships function. So I thought it might be good to send across a hard hitting message and put the user in the shoes of a woman who is in a controlling/abusive relationship. The film progresses in a way that the subtleties give way to hard clear realities – something only such a medium can do.


Is there a particular documentary film or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

I was in my early 20s when I watched “Burma VJ” – a documentary that follows the lives of intrepid undercover reporters in Myanmar (Burma), who work in a secret network to disseminate information despite the repressive military regime. The film was part of a screening at the journalism school I was doing my Masters at. At that time in my life, I couldn’t have asked for a more inspirational film. Because I do believe that it’s about seeing the right film at the right time that makes a difference in someone’s life. Burma VJ was my perfect match. After I watched the documentary, I wrote to one of the news organisations featured in it, and asked for an internship opportunity. Turned out they had a spot and I began my career as a journalist working from hostile environments.


Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

It was a very low budget production, there we used the GoPro Omni.


Please share a personal story about your experience making this film.

During the research phase of this video, I was able to reflect on a lot of my past relationships as well. It made me think about the need to speak openly and without taboo about important topics such as love and relationships.


Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your film to help tell your story. 

We realised it’s not easy to have an actor play against the camera as a character. It was hard for him to act without any dialogue or cues coming to him in return. So I actually hid somewhere on the set and delivered the woman’s dialogues. That helped a lot.


How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

While we had a shooting script, we did remain fluid during the shoot. It took way longer for the actor to perform his lines than scheduled and that pushed the shooting times. In post, we had to decide various render formats for the installations and that proved challenging but was a huge learning curve.


Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this film. 

The most rewarding experience came after the making of the video during the exhibition time, when someone came out of the headset in tears. She said she couldn’t imagine that she had been blind so far. It was satisfying to know that the experience resonated with the audience.


What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

Think about your audience and think about what change you want to have before you enter the scripting and ideating mode.


What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

The flowing of creative energies is the best part of the filmmaking process. When different expertise come together and the chemistry results in an explosive mixture.


What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why? 

A pen and notepad. Ideas come all the time, it’s good to note them down while you’re at it.


Please provide a brief description of the work or organization featured in your video:

Love Matters India is India’s first bilingual digital platform that gives young people non-judgmental information about love, sex and relationships. It is a place to talk about sex with an open, honest, and non-judgmental attitude. At the same time, we do our best to produce content that doesn’t offend people and that fits in with the culture where you live. We see sex as a wonderful thing to explore, share, and enjoy. And we think that if you provide young people with honest and positive information and news on sex, they’ll be more likely to have safer, healthier sex.


What have you learned about the value and impact of the project?

The 360° film is part of a campaign against Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) led by Love Matters India – a digital platform that gives young Indians non-judgmental information about love sex and relationships. Our goal with the VR experience was to educate young urban audiences to understand signs of violence and control in their relationships.
As part of the campaign, Love Matters India struck an unprecedented partnership with the Delhi metro service and a popular restaurant/bar in India called Social Offline.
These partnerships facilitated a large reach for the film. The launch event accompanied by a panel discussion was attended by over 500 people. Over the following 10 days, Love Matters India set up installation booths, each with relevant supporting material and three VR headsets, at several metro stations simultaneously. Each of these installations were staffed with Love Matters India employees and volunteers. Over 10 days nearly 5,000 people viewed the 360° film and nearly 1,400 took part in a survey.
According to the survey results, a majority of the respondents admitted that Kya Yahi Pyar Hai was their first VR film. 88 percent of the respondents rated the film as “good” and 11 percent rated it as “medium”. An overwhelming 94 percent of the respondents said that VR was an appropriate medium to communicate about social issues such as IPV.
Moreover, comparing pre and post survey results indicate that we met our educational goals with the 360° film. Over 41 percent of the respondents hadn’t heard of the term intimate partner violence until they experienced Kya Yahi Pyar Hai. After watching the film, 9 in 10 respondents said that verbal abuse was also violence. 82 percent of the respondents said they wouldn’t accept their partner asking them to stop speaking to someone else.


What do you want audiences to take away from your film?

We have a very clear goal for the audience to take action – to speak out about intimate partner violence happening to them or to their near and dear ones and to seek help.


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

How should we reach the right audience, how can we create impact with a small budget, redefining metrics in VR impact campaigns, using actors in VR.


Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the film. How have things changed or not changed?

The issue of IPV is a huge one in India. Although the campaign didn’t end up changing the status quo of millions of women and men experiencing violence in their relationships, it did make the issue one notch less taboo to discuss. By exhibiting in public spaces such as metro stations in Delhi, we took the private sphere to the public sphere.


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

People can get involved by signing petitions and joining the discussion online as well as sharing the campaign with their circles.


Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.):



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