Indelible Lalita tells a woman’s life story through her changing body. Born in India in 1948, Lalita Bharvani has lived in Bombay, Paris, and now Montréal; her body and identity have been remarkably transformed during this globalized life. Lalita’s dark complexion gradually lost its pigment due to a skin condition, so that she appears completely Caucasian. When she was 30, ovarian cancer left her unable to bear children. She is now fighting breast cancer and heart disease, as her mother lives out her last days in India. These health crises have robbed Lalita of a piece of her racial identity, her womanhood, and her youth. Yet somehow she joyfully adapts and re-defines herself at each stage.
The film uses Lalita’s unique story to explore the idea of the body as an archive, onto which one’s experiences are recorded over the course of a life. Is the body somehow imprinted, like a passport getting stamped, by the places one lives? Does one’s identity derive from one’s physical appearance – or vice versa? Can the body be read as a record of all that has transpired in the soul within?
While Lalita’s body has archived the pain of her life experiences, the story’s tone rises above victimhood because of Lalita’s resilience. A vibrant spark radiates from Lalita’s eyes even as her racial markers, her sexual organs, and her own heartbeat change. Shrugging off her problems, she remains centered by her Hindu faith and her strong relationships. Her joyful flexibility confirms the resilience of the female spirit in the face of inevitable bodily change.
Julie Mallozzi is an independent documentary filmmaker whose work explores the fluidity of cultural identity and historical memory. Her films have won awards at festivals around the world and have screened in museums, universities, and on public television. Julie’s debut film Once Removed tells the story of meeting her mother’s family in China and learning about their involvement in China’s complicated political history. Her recent film Monkey Dance reveals how traditional Cambodian dance helped three Cambodian-American teens navigate the minefields of urban adolescence. She is now completing Indelible Lalita, the story of a resilient woman whose body has been remarkably transformed through loss of skin pigment, cancer, and other conditions.
Julie received her BA from Harvard University and her MFA from San Francisco Art Institute. She has taught at Harvard University, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and Boston University.