'Women get taken advantage of in the industry'
...says Vaishali Subramanian, the president of the newly formed South Indian Film Women's Association aimed at the welfare of all female workers in the industry
Sexual harassment, the casting couch problem, objectification, body shaming, underpayment, lack of opportunities... The list is endless when it comes to problems women face in the film industry. While these issues have been ignored for the longest time, lately, things have started to change for the good in the South industry. First, the formation of Women in Cinema Collective in Kerala in 2017, and next, a similar association, CASH (Committee Against Sexual Harassment) in Telugu cinema. Now, women from our industry have come together to form an independent organisation called South Indian Film Women's Association, keeping in mind the welfare of junior artistes and assistant technicians from the twenty-four departments of cinema. The association will be officially launched next week, on May 1, at RKV Studios by PC Sreeram and another thirty celebrities from the industry.
Headed by Vaishali Subramanian, a former assistant of cinematographer Fowzia Fathima, this first-ever all women's organisation of Tamil film industry not only intends to fight for the rights of female artistes and technicians, but also aims to fetch opportunities for the deserving and equip them with the latest technology.
Vaishali explains why this association is the need of the hour. "Cinema has become a tough industry to survive in. Men have a stronger networking system and they get to know about opportunities. They simply gather, say at a teashop, to discuss these things. But women don't have such provisions, and unfortunately many get taken advantage of sexually in looking for a chance in films. So, we've planned to establish a separate bureau to keep track of opportunities in new films and pass on this information to the ones in need."
She denies that the association was formed as a reactionary measure to the Sri Reddy issue that has taken hold of the Telugu industry. "We came up with the idea of such an association much before the Sri Reddy issue sprang up. In fact, we had initially planned to launch the association in the first week of March, but we had to postpone the launch in order to reach out to all the twenty-four associations in Tamil cinema and gain their support. So, far we have eighty registered members in our organisation and we expect this number to shoot up after the official launch."
She's grateful for the support from seniors in the industry. "We approached several top actors and technicians in the industry like Sathyaraj, PC Sreeram, Pa Ranjith, Mysskin, Revathi and Rohini, and all of them conveyed their wishes to us and said it is a great initiative. PC Sreeeam sir has offered to conduct workshops for our members to introduce them to the latest technologies in the field. Revathi ma'am has also promised to conduct acting and directing workshops for us," she says."
As a parting line, she says, "Though we are starting small, we hope to grow exponentially and be the go-to organisation for all the women in Tamil cinema. Every woman -- from dishwashers to directors -- will find that we can help them."