A tribal woman, driven by oppression, finds herself surrounded by darkness after an attempt at liberation. Losing her husband in the process, she is forced to find shelter in the woods. With a fleeting moment of human weakness, she faces a conflict that will change the foundation of her being.

  • Shivani Sharma
  • Shivani Sharma and Shaurye Chakravarty
  • VK Singh Mom
  • Rajshri Deshpande
    Key Cast
    Angry Indian Goddesses, Sexy Durga
  • Vyom Sharma
    Key Cast
  • Pradeep Bajpai
    Key Cast
  • Shaurye Chakravarty
    Director Of Photography
  • Mikhail Shah
  • Kartik Pangare
    Sound Design
  • Janapriyan Levine
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    13 minutes 13 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 29, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    7,033 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Shivani Sharma

Filmmaker and visual artist Shivani was born in the small town of Nasik in Maharashtra and is currently based in Mumbai. Shivani’s work includes stories that lend themselves to a philosophical exploration on the human condition. During the third year of her study in B.Sc. Filmmaking specialized in Direction from Whistling Woods International, she directed her diploma short film “DOPDI,” an adaptation of Mahashweta Devi’s Draupadi. A story about a tribal woman, driven by oppression who finds herself surrounded by darkness after liberation. Her film was short-listed as one of the finalists for the 2018 Ca’ Foscari International Short Film Festival in Venice and was screened at the festival in San Servolo. Shivani recently worked as an assistant director on a Marathi feature film “Bogda,” story about a dysfunctional mother daughter relationship. Before graduating, Shivani had also started her Friends of Prajwala group, inspired by the social activist and co-founder of the nonprofit organization Prajwala Sunitha Krishnan’s work towards sex trafficking. Shivani along with her team conducted seminars to raise awareness across schools and colleges. Second to filmmaking, she enjoys travelling, photography and making journals. Working as a Clinton fellow with Fair Trade Forum India, she hopes to take the best of both worlds, artistic inspiration and a purpose by helping the artisan community.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

This is not a social issue film, even though the story of the adivasis ( tribal ) and their exploitation is a shocking one. What attracts me is the more fundamentally tragic question at the heart of their existence: what compels them to stay in the forest under the power year after year, generation after generation? What meaning do they find in this existence?
This film is about people striving for their livelihood and freedom in the jungle. The canvas of the film is very small; its universe limited to a woman from the same community.
Dopdi is not a princess having blue blood in her veins but a destitute, impoverished tribal, dark Santal girl, wanted by army as an accomplice in Naxalite operations. The character of Dopdi, here, unfolds the terrible tales of poverty, injustice, victimization, and also criminalization. Dopdi and her husband decide to stand against the unjust and kill the landlord Surja Sahu. Dopdi leads to a miraculous escape. Meanwhile Dulna is gunned down and Dopdi continues her journey in the forest alone.
Suddenly she falls into a trap and gets caught. She is taken in for interrogation and this lasts till Sun bathed her naked body – crushed and bloody through tortures all night long. What is surprising here - not the bruised body and of soul of Dopdi, but her will to tolerate, survive and surmount the torture, her ability to face the ordeal and those procedures to inflict pain, and humiliation on her in particular, in general to break the spirit of rebellion.
She is gang- raped by police, refuses to be clothed by men again. In the film what is represented is an erotic object transformed into an object of torture and revenge where the line between (hetero) sexuality and gender violence begins to blur. The men easily succeed in stripping Dopdi - in the narrative it is the culmination of her political punishment by the representatives of the law. She remains publicly naked at her own insistence.
Dopdi’s atrocities and struggles set in an unchanging landscape and yet everything hinges on these actions, on this landscape.
The style of the film is poetic but very austere. The camera work is slow, takes are long, and images are carefully juxtaposed. The camera, though distant from the subject, is still able to establish a delicate intimacy.
Dopdi’s memories and her past is a strong motif in the film. The film creates a world of her journey from being a victim to an activist. The forest is the core of the film- this unusual setting is exploited fully so that the forest becomes a character: strange, illusory, mesmerizing, hard.

As a filmmaker, I am attracted to stories that lend themselves to a philosophical exploration on the human condition. From being a common adivasi, facing all the unjust and physical harm she ends up standing naked in front of Arjan Singh and men which shows her inner change. Dopdi revives this spirit and being propelled by it, she questions the forest guard, Arjan Singh, next morning, at officers’ camp, walking straight to him, upright and nude. “You can strip me, but now can you clothe me again?”
She has no savior to rescue her from physical violence and public shame, but she has a voice – terrifying, sky splitting as sharp and hoarse as her ululation.
Dopdi here gains renewed energy and tremendous strength by consciously, vehemently discarding her stripped off clothes and make the well-dressed Arjan Singh to lower his eyes in shame and fear at the sight of the bruised, blood stained and bitten body of a dark woman.
The story of Dopdi is meaningful not just because it tells us something about the world we live in, but because it tells us something about our own selves.