Cinema should not be judged on the basis of the gender of filmmakers,but evaluated on their creative individuality and professionalism,says Malayalam director-scriptwriter Anjali Menon.
Basking in the glory of last year’s National award for best dialogue for the commercial blockbuster Ustad Hotel and Kerala state award for the best script for her directorial venture Manjadikkuru,Anjali said she would like to be known as a filmmaker rather than a woman filmmaker.
“I strongly believe that there are only directors and scriptwriters,no ‘woman director’ or ‘woman scriptwriter’. Cinema is a creative product and the gender of the filmmaker is irrelevant in evaluating its worthiness,” Anjali said.
Whether the filmmaker is a man or a woman,his or her creative individuality,professionalism and dedication would reflect in the work,she said.
While the number of women coming to the technical side of cinema is remarkably lower than men,Anjali is one of the few,who have bravely put the cap of a director and scriptwriter and carved out her own space in the history of Malayalam film.
A post-graduate in Art and Technique of Film-making from the London International Film School,Anjali has been in the industry since 1997 making films and documentaries.
She made her presence felt in the mainstream by directing a segment in the portmanteau film Kerala Cafe,conceptualised by director Ranjith. Later,she made her first independent directorial venture Manjadikkuru (Lucky Red Seeds) which rekindled memories in Malayalis of green-rich traditional villages and homes of Kerala of the 1980s.
It bagged the ‘FIPRESCI award’ for the best Malayalam film and the ‘Hassankutty award’ for the best debutant Indian director in the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) in 2008.
Anjali said though she hails from a family which does not have any connection with cinema,she persisted on being part of the industry since childhood.
“To convince our family about the intensity of our passion is quite a responsible task. For me,cinema has been an intense passion since my childhood days and after lots of hard work,I could prove before my family that my choice was not wrong,” she explained about her entry into tinsel town.
Though cinema is generally notorious as an industry of star-dominance and deep-rooted male chauvinism,Anjali said she was lucky she did not have to face any such problems so far.
“I also heard about this star-supremacy when I came into the industry. But luckily,I have not faced any such problems from my artists so far. I had veteran actors like Thilakan and Jagathy Sreekumar in my films. But they all were very co-operative and friendly,” she said.
A good filmmaker could bring out the best from his/her actor through professional approach and attitude,she said. However,Anjali said that some people still did not believe women could meet challenges and things perfectly as men.
“When I was working the script of Ustad Hotel,many an eyebrow was raised whether a woman could address all the challenges of a film-making,including its commercial aspects. There are people who think that women do not have even a sense of humour,” she said.
A wife and mother of a two-year-old boy,she said a woman could go any heights in her film career if she has an understanding family and sheer professionalism.
Anjali is all set to direct another film,a “fun movie” in her words,being produced by hit-maker Anwar Rasheedand she is also penning the script for that.