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Burqa Boxers represents India at Locarno

Last updated on: August 10, 2012 15:53 IST

Burqa Boxers represents India at Locarno

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Ankur Pathak in Locarno

The sole Indian representation at the ongoing Locarno film festival is a little known independent film called Burqa Boxers. It is a moving tale of three Muslim women, who take up boxing to overcome poverty, writes Ankur Pathak.

B
urqa Boxers, a documentary about three impoverished Muslim girls who take up boxing to earn a living, was introduced at the ongoing Locarno International Film Festival.

The only film to represent India at the festival this year, Burqa Boxers is a Swiss-French co-production backed by Celestes Images, a production house based in Switzerland solely devoted to independent films.

Set in Kolkata, the real life tale of these women and their plight caught the attention of Swiss Italian producer Samanta Gandolfi, who is currently raising funds for the project.


Image: The Burqa Boxers exhibition
Photographs: Ankur Pathak

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"Indian culture sees beauty and submission as desirable feminine traits that girls should possess in order to get married. But these Muslim girls of Kolkata haven't had the luxury to cultivate these mannerisms.

"Instead, they had to learn boxing in a small club and are determined to knock out the stereotypes attached with the traditional Indian women," says director Alka Raghuram, a San Francisco-based director of Indian origin who will make the documentary.


Image: The Burqa Boxers exhibition
Photographs: Ankur Pathak

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The three women -- aged 13, 23 and 25 -- have been seeking training under the guidance of Razia Shabnam, one of the first women coaches from India and also an international referee. Once the required funds are secured, the first leg of shooting will commence in Kolkata in November.

The Burqa Boxers team hopes to take their product to Cannes, Venice and Sundance next year. There has also been a keen interest from American distributors for a limited release.

"The feedback so far has been very encouraging and I am very happy to support Alka in making this rare film," producer Samanta Gandolfi concluded. 


Image: The Burqa Boxers exhibition
Photographs: Ankur Pathak

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