Filmmaker Anu Malhotra has been honoured with the Nari Shakti Puraskar 2018, the highest national award for women, for all her contributory work of over 25 years for women empowerment, creating meaningful television programmes and documentaries, tourism promotional, communication projects and art besides philanthropy.
President Ram Nath Kovind gave away the award at a ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan yesterday.
Malhotra has over 17 national and one international award in her kitty that she won for her insightful documentaries, trend setting television programming and impactful awareness campaigns.
For Malhotra, every journey is a search, a quest to unravel the self.
“Exploring lesser-known places and wilderness areas, interacting with unique cultures and experiencing India’s amazing living traditions, is like time-travelling through “Incredible India”,” she says. In 2000, she focused on exploring some of India’s indigenous cultures in the documentary format, which allowed her to spend longer periods filming, thereby giving her a deeper insight into her quest.
Her first documentary, The Apa Tani of Arunachal Pradesh, was mostly filmed in the villages around Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh where she spent time with locals in their bamboo huts while documenting their life.
The Apa Tani women made her realise the importance of leading a physically active life. “People there are strong and healthy, and city diseases like cancer and diabetes are rare,” she says.
In 2001, she visited Nagaland, to film with the Konyak. The Konyak were made famous as the “fierce headhunters” by Prof. Heimendorf in his book, Naked Nagas. The practice of headhunting was fairly common in this area over a century ago. “The ancient Konyak traditions sensitised me to ways of marking identity that did not stem from material belongings,” she says.