When sixteen year old Aarti discovers her attraction to her best friend Aishwarya just days before her arranged marriage to a man she’s never met before, she must choose between honoring her family’s wishes or pursuing a taboo relationship that might ostracize her from the rest of the village.
Format: Narrative Short Film
Genre: Drama, Coming of Age, Romance
Written by: Malhaar Gupte
Directed by: Malhaar Gupte
Produced by: Priya Khanolkar, Ian Tan
With a population of over 1.2 billion, India is on the fast track to being one of the major economic powerhouses of the world. It's an amalgam of religions, cultures, and ethnicities that together, make India one of the most culturally wealthy places on the planet. Whether it comes down to visual arts, music, performance, cuisine, or language, you'd be hard pressed to find any single other nation with the same richness.
However, where India flourishing economically and culturally, it lags in its gender equality: specifically the reproductive and personal rights of women. Our primary goals in the making of Fireflies are two fold: first, to question the systems of arranged marriage in India that disproportionately dismiss the rights of young women in favor of maintaining patriarchal gender roles; and second, to support the representation of the voices of marginalized LGBTQ+ women in popular Indian discourse, especially in poorer rural communities.
The core of the tragedy is that the girls are not struggling against specific individuals, such as an especially abusive or conservative father figure, but rather their main obstacle is the social expectation for them to fulfill certain gender and reproductive roles. The film frames the systems of arranged marriage as the primary antagonist of the film: a “force of nature” that is at once unconscionable and insurmountable to the girls. By having audience attach themselves to the sweet and relatable young love of the two main characters, the film probes the very nature of arranged marriages and questions who the true beneficiaries of the practice are.
We believe that our film can be a wonderful asset in reaching audiences of all different age groups and backgrounds. The script, developed by a team of young Indian and Asian writers, most recently won second place at the Oscar Awards qualifying film festival HollyShorts Film Festival, where it received critical acclaim and recognition for its strong story and careful representation of complex issues.