Space MOMs

Watch the trailer for Space MOMs, Radha’s moving inspirational feature film here! And please “Like” the Facebook page for Space MOMs here for the latest news and exclusive behind-the-scenes content. Radha’s personalstatement on Space MOMs follows:

On September 24, 2014, India, my birth-country, became the first country in the world to put a spacecraft into Mars’s orbit on the first try. India’s feat cost less than the Hollywood space film Gravity.

I had been following the mission and knew that few countries had the number of women engineers, in key positions, as the Indian mission.

So I launched my mission: I would bring the story of the Indian Mars Orbiter Mission to screen, and my protagonists would be those women engineers.

As a woman, I can’t ignore women’s struggle in male-dominated fields. How wonderful, then, to tell a story based on real-life heroines: brown-skinned, ethnic, citizens of a poor country. The sort of women seldom depicted as high achievers in media and entertainment. And how necessary it is for girls in the West to see these unconventional role models and say: “If they can achieve the impossible, why not me?” Glass ceilings must first be shattered in one’s own mind.
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was in agreement: they supported my vision and introduced me to the women engineers. I was then struck by my second cinematic theme: these women were solidly rooted in their culture. They didn’t hail from India’s privileged class. They were creatures of their culture—and they were proud of it.

As a supporter of the indigenous culture reclamation movements igniting so many formerly colonized countries, the uncompromising Indian-ness of my heroines became a powerful element in my film. We have nothing against the West. But if we are to grow, we must decolonize our minds, and our role models will be those like us who stand proud in their roots. A girl from Africa or the Middle East will quicker find her spirit guide in my Space MOMs than in big-budget celluloid fairytales which reinforce the notion that only certain types of girls can get to be a princess. I want all young girls to say: who wants to be a princess when I can conquer space?

I’ve constructed Space MOMs like a sports film: underdogs with a goal that seems impossible. Their budget is tiny. The time they have is even tighter. At a critical juncture, when the orbiter’s engine has failed, a powerful clash erupts between the two female team-leads. Everything points to disaster—which makes the final victory sweeter. Nice girls may not always win, but smart girls most certainly do.

This project has taken me almost five years. The creative tasks—script-writing, production—didn’t consume the most time. Finding like-minded financiers did: I didn’t want the Girl Power or the Indigenous Pride themes to be diluted. When there was a shortfall in the budget, my husband and I took a loan against our house. We wanted to make the film with its messages intact.

The film’s title is a play on the acronym for the mission: M.O.M., for Mars Orbiter Mission. Space MOMs show the world that not all heroes wear capes: some wear saris.