Rajvi Desai

Documentary Filmmaker. Reporter. Photojournalist.

About Me

Rajvi Desai (she/her) is a non-binary filmmaker, reporter and photojournalist, originally from India and based in New York. Her work spans initial forays into breaking news, local politics and gender-based reporting across New York City and urban India. 

Currently, she's working on several short documentaries, primarily as director and cinematographer as a Master's candidate at Columbia Journalism School. Areas of special interest include lived queer experiences of Black and Brown people, abolitionist narratives related to the criminal legal system, and at the risk of being incredibly specific, Mukbang ASMR. 

Mother Wit (in post-production) follows three Black trans women pursuing higher education as a means to break the cycle of poverty and discrimination in Brooklyn, New York. Our main purpose is to move away from stereotypical portrayals of Black trans women that usually only mention them in death. Our participants are changing that narrative through their hopes, dreams and ambitions. 

Black Market (in post-production) is a short documentary chronicling the uncertainty of selling weed as a Black drug vendor with a history of being arrested for marijuana in post-legalization New York. The film follows a Black queer drug vendor in Washington Square Park, surrounded by a community of vendors who operate in a gray legal zone -- weed's legal, but what about those who sell it? The film reckons with the trauma resulting from the criminalization of marijuana, as vendors of color look to a more lucrative future -- that is, if they're let in on it. 

A simple animation to explain why women are the fastest growing segment of the incarcerated population in the United States. 


Featured Articles

We Need to Stop Confusing Punishment With Justice

“Hang the rapists” once again became a rallying cry this month, as many in India raged over the rape and murder of a young Dalit girl. Moral outrage took over the media, with people wishing violent deaths for the oppressor-caste men who committed the atrocity. This reaction is not new in India. When a heinous crime is committed, people instantly react by baying for the criminals’ blood in the name of justice — the notion of which is rooted in a solitary concept: punishment. In the past, even law

How Doctors Are the Unwitting, Frustrated Soldiers in the War Against Covid19

Frontline healthcare professionals have been applauded — with hands, with utensils, with candles — for their grit, determination, and steadfastness during the Covid19 pandemic. These heroes, as media headlines and government officials so often like to call them, are portrayed as unwavering in their duty to the nation. In reality, however, these heroes are disgruntled, frustrated, afraid, and most importantly, endangered. This heroship has been thrust upon them, with little to no supporting mater

In Shaheen Bagh, Muslim Women Redefine Carework as Resistance

On a silent, empty street in Delhi, straddling the boundary between the capital and its suburb of Noida, past numerous police barricades and amid small, winding alleys, lies a phenomenon never before seen in Indian society. Within an almost impenetrable wall of men, thousands of Muslim women, some as old as 82, sit underneath a makeshift tent, often with their children cradled in their laps, one eye on a wandering toddler and the other toward a stage on which activists deliver battle cries of th

What a Transgender-Friendly Health Care System Would Look Like

Health care for transgender people in India is fraught with stigma and misinformation. Transgender bodies are considered deviant, which in turn peddles misinformation around their bodies and their health care. The main vectors of this lack of knowledge are unskilled medical professionals, who have been taught on the male/female binary and often misgender and ill-treat trans bodies they are not familiar with. It doesn’t help that both — trans patients and their doctors — exist within an unafforda

Pride parade NYC: Resistance Contingent fights the power, 30+ advocacy groups strong

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A 48-year-old man with a cigar in his mouth and fake dollar bills taped to his underwear roller-skated his way around a colorful “We Resist” flag, held by protesters loudly proclaiming their queerness and welcoming immigrants to America.

And so progressed the resistance down Seventh Avenue in Manhattan.

“Consumerism is not liberation,” Phebeus Thorton said, holding a “Pride for sale” sign wh

How Women Make Movies helps diverse filmmakers ‘tell their own stories’

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An independent media arts nonprofit has been charting a path to success for unknown NYC-based female filmmakers for more than four decades — all the way to the Oscars.

Independent films that Women Make Movies (WMM) has supported have found their way to a nomination or a win in 13 of the past 15 Academy Awards, boasting a roster of 14 documentaries, according to Executive Director Debra Zimmer