Popular women filmmakers present their take on whether the glass ceiling exists only in the mind.
Filmmakers Pushkar and Gayatri, who hogged the limelight with films like Oram Po and Va Quarter Cutting, have been one of the interesting couple in the film industry. Together from college, the duo definitely knew what to expect from each other. However, Gayatri feels the only issue that a woman will face in this film industry would be personal or practical difficulties.
"Sometimes you feel odd and spaced-out while working with a lot of male technicians. But otherwise, with Pushkar, who has always been with me, there were hardly any hurdles. He is a great comforting factor.”
"Earlier, there were only a few women who wanted to become filmmakers, but now, if you notice, every filmmaker will have at least one woman assistant director in his team. So, it’s only the number of men that is big, which will also change soon."
She also feels that a woman in the film industry is treated with equal respect by her colleagues. "I had never faced any trouble with my teammates or colleagues while working. In fact, when you direct a film, you are seen only as a director and not categorised by your gender, these days," she says.
Till five years ago, the common perception was that women directors can direct only ad films. But now, with TV channels telecasting our interviews, people’s understanding has changed. If one film directed by a woman director becomes a big hit, then everything will change.
The situation here is that the producers are not still confident about investing money on women directors. But corporates care only about the final product, which makes it easier for women directors. When I approached Sathyam Cinemas and Real Image for my film Thiru Thiru Thuru Thuru, they only asked me to take three scenes from the movie to assess my capability. Once they were convinced, they agreed immediately.
I think we don't have to make films like men. Then, why are we here? Let our films be different and offer fresh perspectives.
The scenario has definitely changed conducive to women directors in the industry, though not enough. There are six of us in the Tamil film industry now. The reason why direction is considered male domain is because it’s 24/7 job. So, it was not acceptable for women to take up direction as there should be someone at home to take care of the family. Whereas, in other countries, it's just another job and it’s OK for men to do 9-to-5 job and be a home-maker.
I didn't enter cinema after suddenly finding cinema was my calling. I did my graduation in Singapore and my film studies in the New York Film Institute. So, I have six years of education about movies.
The first thing a woman director should do is to make the team understand that you are capable. Movies directed by women might be different in terms of perceptive.
For filmmaker Priya, a lot of her friends who are men, have helped her showcase her talent in this industry. She thinks times have changed and so has the film industry. "I have had inspiring men around me who helped me come up in life. "My father, brother, my guru, Mani Ratnam and producer of my first film, Prakashraj have only changed my life in a good way," she says, and adds, “ Of course, there are many women filmmakers but they are not dominating this industry."
The Kandal Naal Mudhal director doesn’t like to be compared or to compete with others in Kollywood. She feels that her work has to prove what she is. “I’m not here to compete with any filmmakers. In fact, while shooting too, I don't face any gender bias. When you do your work sincerely, you get credit. People will respect and treat you accordingly."
Aishwarya R Dhanush
Aishwarya R Dhanush, who is now in the process of completing her directorial debut, 3, says people in her crew have no qualms taking instructions from her just because she is a woman. “Definitely not, nobody has ever had problems in taking instructions. It is work at the end of the day,” she says in the most matter-of-fact manner. According to her, gone are the days when people looked at a person differently just because she was a woman. "In today's world, gender bias is almost extinct and I’m glad that it is like that," she says.
Aishwarya also dismisses any idea that women directors might have difficulties when it comes to handling the technical side of making a film. "The only thing that matters is the knowledge you have about your work, not if you are man or woman," she says. "With regard to my experience in making the film, people have been really encouraging and supportive." Support from the family front is essential for a woman to step out of the house and succeed professionally, Aishwarya says. "My husband Dhanush has been really supportive that way," she adds.