Dhruv Dhawan is the creator of the critically acclaimed documentary From Dust in 2005. He lived in India and Dubai, until he decided to continue his education by getting his MFA in Film Production at UBC. When he arrived, he communicated with a wonderful woman, Hang Duong, through Plenty Of Fish. Their ﬁrst date was at Robson Square, and within weeks Dhawan decided to make Why Knot: a documentary that asks if monogamy is the only way relationships should be. He had struggled with the idea of monogamy for a while, but having a fresh start on the West Coast, (where a polyamory community was emerging), he found the resources and possibilities to take that ﬁrst real step. As a result, Why Knot is a thoughtful journey about breaking away from strong monogamous ties.
Our current monogamy model comes from an old patriarchal system of control. In our more ancient history, when people were primarily hunters and gatherers, relationships were more open, and the tribe (or pack) approach was less constraining. But four to ﬁve thousand years ago, many societies around the world moved to an agricultural based system, where wealth and power passed down through blood lines, from father to son. It became more crucial to be clear about your progeny; men wanted to know for sure that their offspring were indeed theirs. Digging through that history of humankind, Dhawan began looking at evidence of patriarchal forces controlling women, in societies that had become agricultural. Many examples of female oppression emerged in his search, such as footbinding in China, closeting women in India, pummeling in the Middle-East, and high heels and corsets in the West. Exploring the history of monogamy is important, so that we can understand how we got where we are today, but it’s also an emotional issue. And in making a film about non-monogamy, Dhawan felt it was necessary to have a balance between scientific facts and subjective opinions. He felt that it’s crucial for the audience to see how biology both mirrors and conflicts with our culture, and that it’s equally important to see and hear subjective interviews — to witness the passion that most people have about this subject — in order to understand and relate to people’s thought patterns and frustrations.
One of the fundamental aspects of human life is that we’re gregarious by nature. Social perception, through networks and interaction, govern our understanding of the world. Monogamy is interwoven into that social concept, and we each struggle to either maintain our commitment to that relationship,or to hide our lapse in it. Dishonesty is what destroys our fragile attempts at monogamy, lies are what break up our relationships, and often the greater issue is our dishonesty with ourselves. And do we really ‘only have eyes for you’ for the rest of our lives? Before she met Dhawan, Duong wasn’t necessarily open to non-monogamous relationships, and yet she would often get bored in her previous relationships, and didn’t know why. Dhawan knows a man in Iraq who is unfaithful to his wife (i.e. secretly deceiving her) with three different girlfriends, which is destroying his life, (and it’s not just a time management issue). Duong always hated when she found out about something that had been going on behind her back. Now she not only appreciates how difficult the truth can be, but also how necessary it is. As Dhawan says, “Without honesty, you don’t have a relationship; you have something else.” He further explains that you can use all the logic and knowledge gained from past experiences as you please — to try and predict how a scenario will unfold in your current relationship — but you’re usually wrong because it’s never the same case.
Dhawan himself was raised with a traditional Indian upbringing that was obsessed with marriage, and this actually made the idea of exploring non-monogamy more viable, because it fueled his rebellion. Why Knot is his forbidden fruit, and he is very passionate about it. As a filmmaker, Dhawan wants to maintain the integrity of the subject, and this has made the production a bit of a struggle. One would think that funding a film would be easier once you have proven yourself, but the challenges for Why Knot have to do with the market being quite diffferent since From Dust was released, and also because the subject matter is so different. (The topic, in fact, is so controversial that even his friends who have given some financial support, wish to remain anonymous so their families — wives — don’t find out.) Consequently, in order to make the film a reality, Dhawan pursued crowd-funding through Indiegogo, (which involves an online social media presence, and getting people to donate support through that website). Other challenges have arisen from the fact that Dhawan is the director and the producer, which is very difficult for an independent project. He would like to bring an executive producer on board, but has not found the right person for the position yet. And while it would be easier to sell Why Knot if there were interviews with celebrities like Lady Gaga, Bill Clinton, or Tiger Woods, as the documentary is about exploring non-monogamy, Dhawan feels that sensationalism would most likely diminish it’s effect.
For most of us, monogamy is so deeply ingrained in our psyches, that just trying to imagine an alternative seems foolish. Dhruv Dhawan bravely explores alternative options, uncovers the flaws and corruption of our dominant relationship system, and defiantly asks, “Why Knot?”
Why Knot is currently in post-production.
Visit Why Knot: Breaking The Silence On Monogamy for more details.