Dr Beena Unnikrishnan: Her work showcases feminine power of Yogini goddesses of the 9th century

Dr Beena Unnikrishnan is a renowned artist and film maker, presented the trailer of her documentary “Y64” at Cannes Film Festival

Dr Beena Unnikrishnan is a renowned artist and film maker, presented the trailer of her documentary “Y64” at Cannes Film Festival


Dr. Beena Unnikrishnan, a renowned artist and film maker, presented the trailer of her documentary “Y64” at Cannes Film Festival. The film’s director...

Dr. Beena Unnikrishnan, a renowned artist and film maker, presented the trailer of her documentary “Y64” at Cannes Film Festival. The film’s director Jain Joseph and project consultant Jithendra Misra was present on the occassion. She has delved deep into her personal quest for self-discovery, driven by a desire to unleash the dormant feminine energy within her. Under the guidance of her mentor, the late Dr M M Alex, Dr Beena Unnikrishnan embarked on a spiritual odyssey that led her to the concept of yoginis. The Y64 documentary showcases the incredible feminine power of the yogini goddesses of the 9th century.

These goddesses were worshipped for their abilities to grant wishes, healing powers, and their mystical knowledge. The remarkable part is that these goddesses portrayed in the documentary are a testament to the strength and power women possess. The documentary, Y64 explores the world of feminine and masculine energy depicted in the concept of Ardhanareeshwara, half male and half female concept in Hindu Philosophy.

The film advocates the coexistence of this dual energies within the individual and its union for unleashing energy to accomplish the missions in this world. This documentary is an inspiring reminder of the incredible power in feminine nature and how it has been celebrated in the past, in union with the masculine aspect, which is time. The film showcases the stunningly beautiful artworks of Beena, which captures spirituality and divinity in every brushstroke. Through her intricate paintings, she has portrayed the essence of yoginis with grace and elegance, leaving the viewers in a state of astonishment. What makes this documentary truly unique, however, is its structure - it has three layers, layer one is the reflections of Beena, speaking about her experience as an artist; layer two is the historical and geographical facts about the seven temples and layer three is most important, the exploration into the concept of yogini in Hindu philosophy.

In this way, the documentary takes on a deeply personal and introspective tone, as the filmmaker reflects on her own experiences and growth throughout the process of making the film. This approach lends a powerful sense of authenticity to the project, making it a must-see for anyone interested in spirituality or personal growth.

Overall, Y64 Film is a powerful example of how the world can benefit from the coexistence of genders and the celebration of feminine energy, which had been discovered and practiced from as early as 9th century in India.

How was your experience of presenting the trailer of your documentary ‘Y64’ at Cannes Film festival?

Introducing Y-64 at the Cannes Film Festival was a truly wonderful experience but is not for documentaries; rather, it is for features and fictions. This was true when we began the documentary. In order to explain about Y 64 and the Yogini Project, I decided that I should at least start someplace. Therefore, in my opinion, it ought to be covered in an Indian Pavilion’s official programme. So, I spent the next two months working with the ministry and the FICCI to obtain a formal authorization. When I did, I was delighted to learn that it was included in the official programme, which is how you can communicate. The debut of this was a complete blessing, and having a guest of honour Vincenza Cristina, the Sr. VP of Marketing and Sponsorship Europe at Master Card there made the occasion even more special.

What’s ‘Y64’ film about?

Y64 is about the 64 Yoginis. There are only a handful of temples in India consecrated to the 64 Yoginis. It was prevalent in India from the sixth to the ninth century AD. Kings adhered to his philosophy in order to safeguard their realms and gain power by engaging in the cult. People don’t know a lot about 64 yoginis, and there isn’t a lot of information available about them, which is what “Y64” is all about.

In Y64, we approached it in a unique way that was distinct from the customary religious and ritual standpoint. We descended even farther and demonstrated how crucial it is to understand the significance of the 64 yoginis, who were 64 manifestations of the feminine power within humans, goddesses, or other beings. They owned the power of manifestation, which occurs when energy coexists with existing masculine and feminine power. We have talked extensively about power equality, which is closely related to the gender equality we are discussing right now. Long before anyone else, our own culture advocated peaceful coexistence.

Tell us about yourself?

In addition to being an entrepreneur and a filmmaker, I am a passionate artist. As a member of this group of women’s organisations called All Ladies League, WICCI and G100, I have gained an understanding of the various areas where an artist, or even a person, has a personal responsibility to consider. These areas include, for example, art, the pay disparities for artists, copyright issues, and many others on which we are currently working.

I have a foundation called Kankali Trust where we are working on all these issues, including how to assist other artists in bridging the gap between creativity and economics and the financial independence of women artists, which is crucial for their sustainability. Therefore, as artists and as responsible artists, these are the areas on which we are focusing especially.

Regarding filmmaking, well, I have produced a movie five years ago, but that was a learning experience for me to become more familiar with and knowledgeable about the craft of filmmaking, and there is also the ongoing concern about its viability.

What’s your thought behind making of ‘Y64?’

The idea behind constructing a Y64 Yoginis is a 10-year-old project. They were painted by me. I spent four years painting each one. So I never had a solid sketch or a proper strategy, even when I started the endeavour of painting 64 Yoginis. This is how it will turn out because I entered a field or somewhere else where none of them were familiar to me. We also didn’t have any scriptures that defined each deity, which is another drawback as I didn’t know Sanskrit.

The deeper meaning, which I’ve already given, is the more beautiful meaning. In essence, it involves translating our processes and culture into a new language that everyone can understand in books, films, the metaverse, or NFTs, among other media. I wish to present the topic of Y64 in a way that is understandable to the new or future generation, so to speak. Therefore, the process is not limited to this documentary. I’m starting to develop my books, metaverse, and exhibitions throughout India and a museum where all 64 paintings will eventually be on display.

This is a dream and a journey; it is not a single documentary or a small exhibition of paintings. It’s a long journey that must continue to improve over time. From the ritualistic intent to the hidden meanings of those rituals, you can see how we might approach them or how everyone can learn something beneficial about such a topic.

Please let us know about your experience of receiving prestigious senior fellowship award?

The senior fellowship award from the Ministry of Culture was a great learning experience. This is because it was a topic that I had just begun to develop with Dr. MM Alex when I began working with him. How the use of colours, dancing, or any other form of art—not just shastra—can aid in the development of cognitive ability.

How easy is your 30 years of your professional journey into multiple sectors?

As a Montessori school teacher, I began my career and my journey into a variety of industries. From then on, as an army officer’s wife and a school teacher, you know that schools are the top priority choice of employment that we receive. So that’s where I began as well, and from there I moved on to learning multimedia.

It was a trip for me to gradually go from a teacher to the creative field of teaching, as I had been teaching in Arena Multimedia and Data Infotech for some time. And from there, you know, I got into trading a lot of other businesses, which I have done.

And for me, everything was completely new. It came from a single place, which is extremely distinct from the next, after jumping from one. And I thoroughly enjoyed my voyage, with all its ups and downs and righteous and wrongous decisions. There were many things present, but if you take the time to look back, you will see that every choice you made was right. Today, you may feel that your choice was wise or foolish. The things I had to consider that were correct when I was 25 or 30 years old may be incorrect now, and the opposite is also true. Therefore, learning never stops, and today I am very grateful because I am truly able to say that I have learned something better from my experiences.

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