Afzana always wanted to be the first girl in her village to go to the city for higher studies. She was a bright student who excelled in academics as well as co-curricular activities. The teachers of Mewat High School believed that she was not like other students and were surprised by both, her intellect and her abilities. Lately, they had not seen such a bright child in this small village in Haryana. Her mother was proud of her too! She always had Afzana’s back and pushed her in studies, irrespective of all the physical and mental torture she had to take from her husband and his family. Things were going well until one-night Afzana had to run out of her village, all alone, not just for higher studies, but. . .
There are a lot of girls out there who dream. But, dreaming is still a taboo, especially for girls. An average Indian girl is brought up with the motive of being a caretaker of a family. She is supposed to be submissive and carry on the family tradition of being a ‘woman’. Afzana happens to be different from this norm of being a passive recipient. She dreamed of becoming someone in life by pursuing her further studies. But her dreams got shattered one day as she heard the news of her marriage getting fixed at that tender age of 14. Her marriage was fixed along with her sister’s so that her parents needn’t give her any extra dowry. She even pleaded her father by saying that he might not need to give her any dowry if she continued her study and became someone respectful. Her pleading was far from comprehension to her father’s ears. She was left with no choice but to run away from home. Anything worst could have happened to her on that night. However, she was not someone who would give up her dreams easily for the fear of any difficulties. She managed to run to Rajasthan where she ended up disowned by her parents. She is now rehabilitated in Deepalaya Home, Mewat, Haryana by continuing her further studies.
Her courageous story inspires a lot of people. Among them were the EVE voluntary Organisation, a group of working professionals and students who promote “Girl Child Education” in India. They also provide mentoring and educational scholarships to those deserving girls. They stepped ahead to produce a documentary on Afzana. On a celebratory function of National Girl Child Day in Delhi, the documentary named “Afzana” was screened. After watching it, the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia, also assured to make the story of Afzana reach each and every village of India where many Afzana’s were still suffering from the same treatment by the family and the society. Afzana herself was very pleased with the fact that her story has inspired many people. She said - “All I want is that there shouldn’t be any more Afzanas, not because she couldn’t study but because no one should go through the circumstances she had to undergo to educate themselves”. “Like boys, girls deserve equal rights and there shouldn’t be a situation where we have to fight for it” she added.
An ‘Afzana Fund’ was also inaugurated at the end of the function. Meanwhile, certain schools in Haryana had started a fee waiver system for those deserved girl students. The name ‘Afzana’ itself ascribes to a desire for self-expression; free from the restrictions and monotony into which someone is often drawn. Afzana did the same thing by breaking out of the cage and making a statement of herself. Some people even blame her parents for naming her ‘Afzana’ by saying that she ends up creating what the name exactly means. However, Afzana remains a bud of hope for those girls who are suffering silently. Equal opportunities in every field should be provided to each and every child irrespective of gender. It should start from home where everything is learned first. This is not only a necessity for the betterment of the society but also a basic human right.
The makers of Afzana, the short film, are no exceptions but ordinary people like us who accidentally met Afzana when they were out for a regular shoot in a village of Haryana and were moved profoundly by her story to the level that they decided to take it up as a voluntary project. EVE Volunteers work for the cause of betterment of the society and keep an eye out for projects of social concern. We asked the members how they felt to be a part of this short film: "Being a part of AFZANA , was indeed a great privilege for me, acting as AFZANA was not easy because she is a different kid. This movie has changed me a lot and made me think differently. We live in an urban lifestyle, but still I can never do what AFZANA did, and that too at a very young age. Each and every day of shoot was full of fun. I'm very thankful to the directors and the whole crew members for selecting me and being my support during the shoot." - Diya James, Lead Actor, Afzana "Afzana film was a learning experience in bringing an incredible true story onto screen. It was my first full fledged experience in film where I was involved from scripting stage to the marketing of the film. I hope the film reaches the right audience and create the needed awareness." - Joel Joseph Poulose, Associate Director, Afzana
Project Afzana was one of the best experiences I had till date and I always wanted to be a part of a film making project. For me personally, the best thing was that I got to learn a lot as I had been given responsibility of various things like from production to assisting to acting. It was a very challenging project as we had a very small team of around ten people and it was everyone's first experience in this field. Therefore, according to the challenges we had to go through it was still brought out very well. Every team member was on their toes throughout the 5 day shoot and were always energetic. The team bonded very well because of which EVE is working. All our volunteers do realize the importance of the cause and also now understand that how a film can impact a society and its people. - Anish P Abraham , Executive Producer, Afzana "It would be an understatement to call my experience as a blessing; it was folds more than that. The challenge was to recreate the shots without losing the true intensity and emotion of a story for I knew it'd be a voice to thousands of people out there and I could not afford messing it up. Afzana was quite a ride, rightly so!" - Ginu Raj, Cinematographer, Afzana
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