Indian cinema, which completes 100 years of its inception this year, has often faced criticism for its chauvinist content. The film industry has celebrated women - her power to forgive and her beauty but is still largely dominated by men. Not only on the silver screen, but women's presence behind the camera have also been largely ignored.
It's only in the recent years that prominence is being given to women heading various departments that were once ruled by men. Priya Belliappa, an alumnus of the Film and Television Institute of India has chosen a path less travelled.
She is directing a Kannada movie with an all-women crew.
'Ring Road Subha' is being produced, directed and cinematographed by women. Priya's concept of making an all women crew film is certainly one of the first in the country. Though Priya says it wasn't a conscious decision initially, it was only happened to notice as she worked on the project that she picked people who happened to be women. She then warmed up to the idea and decided to make a film with an all women crew.
This is not the only reason which makes the film different. It's inspired from a very divergent story. "It's not going to be different because it's an all women film, it might be different because our concept is different, our thoughts is different," said Priya.
The film is based on the real life incident of Shubha, a 21-year-old woman who allegedly killed her fiancé. Priya, who has also scripted the film, says it was the myriad questions which prompted her to pick such a story.
"My inspiration is based on a newspaper article, where there was a couple of incidents that happened and while reading I felt I would never know the truth of these incidents. There were so many questions like what prompts human beings to take action that are drastic? I thought I would never know the truth and beyond, and that is how the whole subject came. It's fully like frictional and we have created the story on the assumptions that what could have happened, what could be the reason."
"The film's lead character has shades of grey. I feel everybody has a shade of grey. Nobody is black, nobody is white. Which shades overtakes which shades we never know. So the ambiguity of human nature and the unpredictability of it excited me," said Priya.
'Ring Road Subha' is a woman-centric film and stars all fresh faces. When asked why she didn't select established names, the director said, "A known face already comes with an image, they have their own baggage and they like to keep that image. They think that I'm popular because I made film like this but the character in my film is totally different from the usual roles that are there."
"I didn't want anybody to have any prejudice. I didn't want pressure from heroine to say that I want to play this role with this kind of nuances. And also I didn't want audience to feel that it stars such person, so the film is going to be like this. So, I decided to cast a fresh face, which will come without any baggage."
India film industry, which was once considered vulnerable for women, is in the phase, when evolution is taking place. "The response from the industry has been very good, and I am very happy at the moment. So hoping that the energy goes positive," said Priya. Though the director added that she did find little difficulty to find women for certain jobs.
South Cinema, which is no different from Hindi cinema, hasn't really evolved much in the recent time. Women still doesn't get roles which relinquish men's authority in the silver screen. However Priya says she hasn't really experienced any prejudice here, though she admits Mumbai is any day a better place to work for women.
"When I was working in Mumbai, people there told me you won't find a lot of women working in a crew and in South is a very prejudiced place and they have experienced it. But when I came down here, our whole crew worked effectively. For me it's been slightly easier because the support I have got through. And I want to break the thought that people have prejudice here."
Priya, who says that South is on par with Bollywood and there are hardly any roles fleshed out for women, except some couples of films, wants that people doesn't turn up to theatre because it's an all women film but for its story, approach.
"I don't want you to come and say that a woman has made it so it's going to be different. I would want you to watch it for the film," she said. The film has already hit the floors and would see the light of day in next four months.