Parul Yadav is waiting for the release of her upcoming film Butterfly, which is the Kannada remake of Hindi hit Queen. The original garnered love from critics and the audience alike for its strong content that promoted the idea of women empowerment.
But, sadly, the creator of such an influential women-centric film, Vikas Bahl was accused of sexual assault in the wake of the #MeToo movement last year.
In a candid conversation with indianexpress.com, Parul Yadav shared her thoughts on the changes that she would like to see in the film industry in the #MeToo era.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Q: 2018 had been an awakening in protecting the interest of women at the workplace. The entertainment industry, especially, was rattled by outspoken women. While there is a lot of work to do, nevertheless, there is a momentum in the industry (which demands more work opportunities and strong characters for women). What kind of changes do you expect to see in 2019?
You have not said it but let me put that word in your mouth. Are you talking about #Metoo? Thanks to women who started the #MeToo movement. It helped (other) women a lot. If you see in Mumbai, a director has been banned from directing. This is a very, very big change. Kudos to the entire #MeToo movement. A lot of directors have been asked to stop directing and they are sitting at home. If the criminals do not get punished, I think they will keep on doing wrong things. I think it’s important whatever happened in the industry. In Bollywood, a lot of women-centric movies are happening. Women are getting paid at par (with men). The credit in movies would start with the hero’s name. But, thanks to Shah Rukh Khan, he gave away that space to women. I want to see that happening in our industries here: women should get equal pay cheques and there should be more women-oriented films. What I have seen is whenever there is a creative discussion on the table, they would call the hero and ask which is the cameraperson you want? Which is the fight master you want? Which is the choreographer you want? You know they take the (male) actor’s suggestion. I think it is only the director’s prerogative to decide who the technicians should be. But, if they (directors) give this opportunity to decide or suggest, I think why not women be included when these kinds of discussions happen. I was not asked until I became a co-producer. I have done about 26 movies. None of the producers asked me which was the cameraman you were comfortable with? Do you think we can go for this choreographer? Why does no producer or director ask women? Why do they only ask the male lead actors as to what do they want? I want to see this change in 2019.
Q: Was there any discussion when Vikas Bahl was accused of sexual assault?
I don’t know whether his guilt is proven. He is still an accused. In case, he has done whatever he is accused of, I think he should not be directing anymore.
Q: How do you react to the situation? The man who directed a film like Queen has been accused of sexual assault.
It is sad. I felt Vikas has done really good to society by making Queen. I think movies should not just entertain, it also needs to leave a social message at the end. I think, in parts of India, women still have to ask their parents if they have to go for any sort of vacation. Even if they have to step outside of their houses, they have to take permission. Marriage is the only thing for women in India. Because of Queen and Vikas, the mentality has changed. So he definitely did good to society, but it is surprising if he had done what he is accused of. It’s sad and he should be punished (if found guilty).