Utpal Kalal on why he made The 14th February & Beyond

How this documentary film 'The 14th February and Beyond' has come into an existence, goes long back to the time when I was studying in grade 6th of my elementary school. I grew up in a small town in Rajasthan, India and studied in a govt. School.

As a young adolescent, I learnt about Valentine's day from the newspapers that used to publish the romantic poetries dedicated by the boys to woo the girls they liked and we used to search in that column if it had any familiar name from our area too! This whole thing used to turn out to be a big embarrassment, especially for those girls whose names were published with romantic lines, but they had neither any idea about it nor they had ever given any consent for it! I also saw girls’ names with abusive words written on the walls of public and School toilets if they turned down Valentine proposals. Somehow, it did not leave any pleasant impression about this day in my tender mind and this kept on repeating every year with new heights.

Later, when I went to Kota city (one of the biggest coaching hubs for the preparation of medical & engineering entrance exams in India) for my medical entrance preparation, I saw that the Valentine’s day had grown to the next level where certain coaching institutes had to deploy security personnel to avoid situations like eve teasing or molestation. Newspapers were filled-up with the headlines about social groups protesting against the Valentine’s Day. This day sort of gave an open license to youngsters to do whatever they wanted to, while some singles felt left out and depressed.

At that particular age, I didn’t have big ideas about love, but still one thing that constantly bothered me a lot was, 'If Valentine’s day is about love and a day to honour the Saint Valentine, then why are all these terrible things happening around this day?' My mind kept on buzzing with countless thoughts rather than getting fascinated by it. I was just a student and there wasn't even a rarest of clue that one day I would make a documentary on this subject.

Time flew and along with my medical graduation, I somehow developed a passion for cinema and after finishing my degree, I decided to join full time filmmaking.

The questions I had about the Valentine’s day never stopped bothering me, the situations I observed around this love day made me restless, but whenever I discussed these thoughts with anyone around, I was not taken seriously rather they laughed at me. Yet, I didn’t want to stop there and that’s where I chose to research diligently on this subject and make a documentary film on it.

It took extensive research of about two years where I read a vast amount of related material, analysed international and national News information, visited several government organisations and NGOs, talked to common people, including- students, parents, teachers, counsellors, couples, storekeepers, and interviewed experts from different fields for deeper insight. My focus was on not just getting the information but try to collect reliable sources of evidence and carry out a comprehensive investigation of the subject. With every passing day, I was shocked with new findings and there was an untold piece of story to share with the world.

We have been talking about global warming, we are scared about the environment, we are worried about our economy and all are important too, but ironically, somehow we have forgotten to pay attention to some equally gruesome issues that are directly related to the social sanity and the future of our young generation. I hope that, this film ignites a conversation about this crucial issue that has been overlooked so far.

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