Documentary by York alumna explores arranged marriages in India

How does a modern woman deal with a marriage that was arranged when she was a child? That’s what the new documentary film, em>Remembrance of Things Present: A Personal Exploration of Marriage and Gender Ideals in Contemporary India, by York alumna Chandra Siddan will explore on Tuesday, March 11.

The screening of the documentary takes place from 2:30 to 4:30pm in the Senior Common Room, 305 Founders College, Keele campus. A discussion with the filmmaker will follow.

Siddan (BEd ‘03) is a filmmaker, videographer and the director and founder of the Regent Park Film Festival, formed in 2003. Growing up in Bangalore, India, Siddan completed graduate work at Bangalore University and studied media at the New School for Social Research in New York City in the early 1990s, where she also worked as a writer and editor for the New York based weekly, Asia Observer. While in New York, she made her first short film Moving before immigrating to Canada in 2000.

Right: Chandra Siddan

After years of nomadic life abroad, Siddan returned to India’s software capital of Bangalore with the matter of her arranged marriage weighing heavy on her mind. Her marriage to her uncle was arranged when she was 12. The wedding took place shortly after she turned 16. One year later, she gave birth to a daughter.

Long divorced and newly remarried, she confronts her parents, relatives, family friends and ex-husband with her lost childhood. She wondered if she was forced into her early marriage because of her own dysfunctional family or because it was the product of deeply patriarchal Indian culture?

A searing insight into the shifting spaces for women in rapidly changing modern India, Remembrance of Things Present offers a sharp view of how little Bangalore’s Hindu middle class has changed despite the software boom. Simultaneously a family drama and a social history, Remembrance of Things Present also theorizes Siddan’s and other women’s past and present to see global female migrant labour as an anti-odyssey, a journey without a return.

Siddan’s other films include the short The Gift, directed while living in Germany where she met her present husband, and the documentary Williamsburg Experiment, which examines the relationship between art, money and value.

The presentation is sponsored by Founders College, the Faculty of Social Science, the Department of Anthropology, the South Asian Studies Program and the York Centre for Asian Research.

For more information, contact organizer Professor Janet Rubinoff at