Documentary filmmaker Elisa Paloschi, whose award winning movie “Driving With Selvi” is touring across India, hopes it contributes to a social impact for the empowerment of girls in the country. The film — based on the inspiring true story of Selvi, south India’s first female taxi driver, has been on a ‘Selvi’s Bus Tour’, which was launched here on October 11 on International Day of the Girl Child. Forced to marry at the young age of 14, Selvi found herself in a violent and abusive marriage. One day, in a desperate bid to escape, she fled to a highway with the intention of throwing herself under a bus. Instead, she chose to board the bus and thus started her remarkable journey. The inspiring story of Selvi sees her defy stereotypes by learning to drive, starting her own taxi company. With the support of local grassroots organizations, following each screening, Selvi’s story is used to open a discussion on a variety of issues prevalent within each community as well as engage families in the empowerment and education of girls to pursue their aspirations.
Paloschi said in a statement: “There are 5 million Indian girls just like Selvi that are married each year before they turn 18 (Unicef). I’m truly humbled to meet these girls as part of Selvi’s Bus Tour, hear their stories and witness the remarkable way in which they engage with the film and the actions that are resulting. “The main feedback which we’ve received from these girls is that parents need to see the film as much as their children; that is where the real change happens, but we cannot do it on our own.” The campaign will conclude with gala screenings of “Driving With Selvi” in Bengaluru and Delhi on December 4 and December 8. These will be co-hosted by the High Commission of Canada.
The makers are now looking to secure partnerships with NGOs and educational institutions who see a potential in integrating “Driving with Selvi” in their programming, as a tool to engage communities on the topics like Child, early and forced marriage, gender-based violence, gender equality, safe transportation for women and commercial driver training for women.