A Feminine Awakening: Manoshi Chitra Neogy’s Sand Shades

Sand Shades

Sand Shades

It’s not every day that you encounter someone who has a project so moving that you’d take on the smallest of roles, just to be able to say that you were a part of it.

That’s the way my colleague Alyson Campbell and myself feel about Manoshi Chitra Neogy’s upcoming feature film, Sand Shades.

From the award-winning director, writer and NYU film professor Manoshi Chitra Neogy, Sand Shades is an ode to women, of all races and walks of life. The film weaves the dual tales of a young Indian woman named Shumona: in one life, the woman adopts her heritage’s culture with its constraints and limitations; in the other, she journeys to the West in search of freedom, leaving behind her native India’s empty rituals, hypocrisy and social aberrations (like the de-valuation of girls and the archaic ritual of arranged marriage). Dubbed a cinepoem, the film will trace the ebbs and flows of these two parallel lives led by a character who embodies the bridge between East and West, and represents Womanhood with a capital W. The film will be shot all across the globe, as the heroine seeks her place in the mainly male-dominated landscape. Eschewing tired Hollywood (and Bollywood) formulas, Sand Shades resists easy categorization. It will address some of the social and sexual mores of India, but while Neogy shines a critical light on the country’s rigid social constraints, she also portrays the many splendors of her native land and embraces the warmth of its people. Despite being a film made by a woman for women, the film avoids villainizing its male protagonists. Producer Christine Janssen is quick to refute Sand Shades as a “bra-burning” film. The male characters have positive roles, and the film will resonate with both sexes. Only one thing is for sure: viewers – male and female – can expect to come out of the screening with a changed perspective. A panelist at the Jerome Foundation declares that Sand Shades “is the kind of film that’s screaming to get made.”

The film is clearly a passion project for Neogy. Five years in the making, Sand Shades is currently in pre-production as Neogy has not yet “discovered” her Shumona. She reveals that Sand Shades has been courted by numerous investors – including one who requested the lead role be given to their daughter, in exchange for a 7-digit investment. Unwilling to compromise the integrity of her film, Neogy categorically turned down the generous offer, and all the other ones that asked her to relinquish control over the film’s artistic direction.

Instead, she opted to raise funding for Sand Shades in a unique way: by asking for 1-dollar donations from women across the globe. A difficult undertaking, but Neogy and Janssen look forward to the challenge. In fact, the approach is not unlike president-elect Barack Obama’s fund-raising strategy. It is a well known fact that Obama’s campaign raised much of its money in small donations over the internet, half of which came in increments of less than $200. Every individual who contributes to Sand Shades will be acknowledged in the film’s credits with the title of co-producer in a unique art form that has yet to be disclosed. Producer Janssen points out that if only 1 out of 10 women in the U.S. would donate 1 dollar, the film would have reached its fund-raising goal. The film’s completion will necessitate an “effort of collective consciousness.” Neogy also plans to donate a portion of the film’s proceeds to a fund for budding artists and her own future projects.

I asked Neogy if she could summarize the message of Sand Shades in one sentence, and after pausing for reflection, she replied:

“There was never an attempt at a message when I started creating this film. Sand Shades is about remembering your female soul, carrying the jewel of your femininity. It’s about holding the dew drops and subtlety of your femininity and being a warrior woman. It’s about the re-birthing of the female psyche. It’s about being in tune with yourself, loving, nurturing and marrying yourself. Because you are complete. You don’t need to be validated by anything or anyone.”

Women across the world can show their support for Sand Shades‘ mission of female empowerment by making a donation. No amount is too small, and every contributor will be honored in the film’s credits. Please help bring this project to life. You can make a difference.

For more information on Sand Shades, or to make a donation, visit www.SandShades.org.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 9th, 2008 at 3:09 am and is filed under Film. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

No Responses to “A Feminine Awakening: Manoshi Chitra Neogy’s Sand Shades”

Walter Endsley December 24th, 2008 at 2:55 am

What a wonderful site. Such an excellent idea.
Well done.


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