Glitter, black eyeliner and two of the finest dancers we've ever seen equals a pretty damn good Thursday. Director Raeshem Nijhon's beautiful art film, Dark Water, is pure visual seduction. Featuring professional dancer-photographer Nilaya Sabnis and dancer Reshma Gajjar, the video is an interplay between two adorned South Asian women with fierce, painted faces and strong muscular bodies.
Something we don't often see in the media.
We wanted to create something that celebrated an alternative presentation of South Asian sensuality and femininity.
"I wanted to make something visually unexpected yet simple, a video portrait that created the illusion of beautiful women floating underwater. They're showing the world that they don't give a f**k. The hair and makeup was meant to be hard and harsh with pops of femininity. I love chains and metal. Reshma's backflip in the piece is so fluid and powerful in that moment," says Nijhon, producer of the MTV Universal series Rebel Music, a tour of youth music movements around the world.
One awesome camera, the Phantom Flex (shooting at 2570 frames-per-second!), a giant trampoline and PAs making it rain glitter, and you've got this magic:
Nijhon made the film during her stint in the corporate creative sector. Guess what kind of feedback she got? The dancers were deemed "styled to look too masculine and that it might be 'scary' for a white male audience."
Fools in the board room can't deal with badassery coming from brown women's bodies--what else is new? "In my head I thought- hells yeah, we must have done something right!" says Nijhon, when getting the discouraging feedback. "South Asian women, when we do get our rare moment of representation in media, are expected to be presented with a very specific sensibility. In Dark Water, they're not the 'nice pretty Indian girl' anymore. They're too powerful. We wanted to create something that celebrated an alternative presentation of South Asian sensuality and femininity."
Both dancers have toured with Madonna and A.R. Rahman. Be sure to check Gajjar out on VH1's Hit the Floor, and Sabnis's captivating photography.
I wanted this video to go on and on.
Check out stills from the production below. Dark Water video & photos courtesy of Raeshem Nijhon.
Directed by Raeshem Nijhon; Dancers: Nilaya Sabnis and Reshma Gajjar; Cinematography: Nicola Benizzi; Editor: Zubaer Khan; Music: Alex Burkat; Hair and Make Up: Jacob & Cynthia Rose; Stylist: Goldie Rush; Production: Mike Peay & Joseph Sousa; Credits Music: Dasha Luks -- Special Thanks to Shruti Ganguly