Horrors in the life of a heroine
On the occasion of International Women's Day, Cinema Express asks female actors what bothers them about Tamil cinema
On one hand, there is a blatant discrimination between female actors from South India and those from the North. It's evident everywhere, from the pay to the choice of roles offered. An even bigger problem is the psyche of people in the industry. Any girl who enters the industry is told that in order to climb the ladder, she has to act with a certain list of heroes. More often than not, the so-called numero uno heroine is the girl who has ticked all those heroes off her list, regardless of how insignificant her roles in those films may have been. I wish the day would come when female actors can rise to the top based on their performances in films, not based on which heroes they have worked with.
This Women’s Day, I choose to focus on the strengths of the women of our Indian film industry. True strength only comes comes from unity and holding each other up. It is wonderful to see the work that is being produced, directed, written and performed by formidable female talents who are vehemently moving the wave of change.
In a patriarchal society such as ours, almost all professions are dominated by men. The film industry is no different. There's gender discrimination, not only in terms of remuneration -- but also regarding roles written for women. I just started out, and so, can't pick and choose scripts. It has changed a lot recently, of course. But still, it should get better.
Objectification of women hasn't changed yet. We pretend as if things are smooth, but it's not. There are very few people who respect you for your talent. It's all about 'compromising' here. And anyone who disagrees is simply lying. Also, cutting down on scenes and making performances seem like a cameo has become a recent trend, which nobody wants to talk about. Actors maintain a fearful silence because they want to be in the film industry.
It would be nice if women get equal screen space on par with their male counterparts in commercial cinema. I don't think I can complain about getting paid less because I guess it's not right to demand what stars like Dhanush and Suriya ask. As for strong roles, I am doing the Malayalam remake of Queen. So, I am quite content with the roles I get.
We don't get the roles we think we deserve. More than talent, it has always been about popularity. For instance, if you ask who the A-grade heroines are, people generally say they needed to have acted with a certain list of actors. I've never understood why.
It's unfortunate that others decide how much we should eat and how we should look. I wish I were kidding, but it's been more than six months since I ate rice. I am not blaming anyone, but it has always been about sticking to size zero. We don't know who started this, but we still think it's right. Also, the competition between heroines isn't really healthy. There is a lot of ego and jealousy. If we speak our mind, we get labelled 'loud and arrogant'.