March 9, 2017 3:54:16 pm
Director Lakshmy Ramakrishnan, well known for having been a host of the show Solvathellam Unmai, recently opened up about gender disparity, bullying, harassment and sexism in the industry. In an interview with The New Indian Express, Lakshmy questions if there is even any real change in the industry today. Especially after young actors speaking against sexism, films with lead female actors being written about by critics. She feels not much has changed and said, “I refuse to believe that a film sells because of its hero. In recent times especially, I’ve seen a lot of actors speak out against sexism, and reviewers write about underwritten female roles. But has there been any real change in the number of strong female roles? Perhaps that has something to do with how few female directors there are,” and added, “For instance, When you hear a ‘Sanjay Ramaswamy’, you think of Suriya in Ghajini (2005). Can you think of a fictional female character’s name that’s as evocative? Women are still subjugated, they’re still not respected, and worse, they’re abused in the film industry.”
She, in fact, recounts a personal experience, when a Malayalam film director made advances at her. She recalled, “There was a leading Malayalam director — a man who has made films in Tamil too — who tried to make sexual advances at me. When I refused, he made it a point to insult me on the sets. He shouted at me in public and harassed me by deliberately making me redo some scenes more than 25 times. I demanded an apology, and things took a nasty turn. Such men exist across the cinema industry, but we don’t really speak about them.”
While there is talk that successful women have only made it so far after making compromises, there are women fighting sexism as well. However, Lakshmy asks, Why are there so few men out there lobbying for equality in the industry? She cites that sexual advances as the main reason why she has churned out less work. She explained, “Recently, a guy who was sent by a director, came to my apartment to discuss a project. As the discussion went on, he slowly spoke about making ‘adjustments’. I thought he was talking about adjusting my dates, but I was shocked to realise that he was talking about something else. Needless to say, I ushered him out,” and opined, “Is it any surprise then that I’ve reduced the number of films I do even though Yuddham Sei (2011) did so well?! Many filmmakers don’t want to work with intelligent women. Almost all of them don’t want women who ask for reasonable remuneration. And if you’re a woman who talks about equality, god save your career. and this isn’t an issue exclusive to the film industry.”
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