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Lavanya Bahuguna


Swati, The Woman Behind ‘The Saints of Sin’ Documentary, Confesses Her Sins To Us

  • IWB Post
  •  January 23, 2017


Not every saint has the courage to accept his sin.

In what could only be called a bold feminist act, Swati Bhattacharya’s short film  happens to pinch the patriarchy.

The night, FCB Ulka’s Chief Creative Officer started, she decided to engage 8 women spread around Nairobi, New York, Delhi & Mumbai in an on-going dialogue encouraging them to come out with their bags of sins. Interestingly, none of these women are actors. However, it didn’t bother Swati, after all, she was looking for original (untold) stories.

An email was shot to Debbie, Runa, Srila, Gopi, Shreya, Paro and Pradipta. Here, I would like to presume what these women wrote back: “I’m ready for the journey of emotions and experiences. Thank you for appearing on time, Swati.”

During a quick yet calm telephonic conversation with me earlier today, Swati revealed some beautiful memories from the sets and how this emotional journey has transformed each one of their lives.

“I had always thought about the 7 sins – envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, and wrath – however, it was a rare moment when the ‘sinners’ crossed my mind. To find them wasn’t difficult, though. For example, Shreya is my ex-husband’s niece, Runa is my ex-sister-in-law, and Paromita is a college friend.”

To document their ‘unforgivable’ sins, the talented Oni Sen came on board.

Swati states that it took them 7-8 hours per woman to record her story. Pouring emotions out and serving it to the unknown isn’t an easy task, after all.

The first screening of The Saints of Sin has happened, and there are reactions around Swati and the team. I, for one, would call it brutal (to myself) watching 8 women talk honestly about their struggle in the world of patriarchy, feeling burdened by others’ expectations, at that, fighting their own anticipations. Why? Because what if it compelled me to not be who I am? What if it pushed me towards living more freely than ever, not restricted by the past mistakes and possible future glory? What if?

To watch The Saints of Sin, one needs strength. Those who could tap it, said something like this to Swati:

“These stories are never going to leave my mind.”

“I was left in tears, her story felt like the unspoken words inside me.”

“I want to watch this film with my wife.”

“The (Bengali) music is soulful. Making a lyrical movie was a brilliant decision, Swati.”

“I have been talking about the film during my morning walks and at the dinner table.”

Ask Swati about her poignant realization during the film making, and she says it has everything to do with the power of listening. “Listen to every human being you come across. There are times we have absolutely no one to talk to and that’s when our problem doubles. When you listen more, you judge less. You complain less.”

Listing her learnings, there was something from her childhood that she spoke about.

“My parents taught me one thing. If you trust the other person, they will learn to trust the world. Maa & baba did this to me, and today, I believe almost every ounce of the Universe.”

During the conversation, I happened to ask her about the only man in her life, Mr. Zazu, her Beagle. “Other than being a COO, the other important position which I hold in my life is of being Zazu’s doormat. Somewhere amidst fighting the patriarchy, I fell for him. I guess I’ve brushed patriarchy aside in my dog’s case.” *laughs*

In the documentary, Swati portrays one of the seven deadly sins – Sloth, representing laziness.

“I am a self-confessed sinner.”

To know more, you have to watch the film. Here, check out a few powerful teasers from the film:

Before hanging up, I indulged Swati in a rapid fire round. The questions surrounded women in general and what they need NOT do in their life anymore.

Stop feeling guilty about?

What is expected of you.

Don’t hide?

What/who you love the most.

Stop feeling ashamed of?

Your interests.

Start embracing?


I really think I should manifest some courage and watch the film. The teasers are electric enough to teach me a thing or two, who knows, the film could work wonders for me!

[Pictures are Swati’s own]

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