Written by Priyanka Sharma | Mumbai | Published: July 16, 2018 6:14:21 pm Soorma producer Chitrangada Singh says it needs to be appreciated that women in the industry are talking openly about sexual harassment with their colleagues and “finding ways to not let this happen.” Related News
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“My body of work does not have as many films as I would have wished for,” she acknowledges during an interview with indianexpress.com. But later in the conversation, one realises the thin filmography is also because Chitrangada Singh “made a choice over and over again” to walk out of projects because she was asked to compromise.
With Soorma, her first film as a producer, running in theatres and her acting career looking better than before (she has Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster and Bazaar with Saif Ali Khan in her kitty), Chitrangada Singh looks back at her journey, the tough choices she made, the scepticism she faced on turning producer and the silent MeToo movement that she says has begun in the industry.
Bollywood is having a MeToo movement in its own way
On being asked why the Hindi film industry remains silent about its sexual predators, Chitrangada says actors might not make public comments about it, given the conservative fabric of Indian society, but they have begun changing the narrative of their stories when they are put in a position of compromise.
“Yes, this is prevalent in any industry in the world, not just entertainment but corporate houses. Coming to why India isnt the way the West is, because theres a huge difference in the way the western society thinks and talks about the issues and the way we do it. It cant be like we wake up one day and say, We have to be like the West. It doesnt change that fast. We have to understand the matrix of our society, how traditional we are still in our thinking, the way it is being run,” she says.
The Soorma producer adds, “When you say you should come out and talk about your abusers and name them, yes thats very courageous but what needs more courage is to be able to make a choice when youre in that place. That for me is a more important MeToo movement. When you are willing to make a choice and youre saying Im not going to take this and Im willing to let go what Ive to but I dont allow this. You walk away from that and talk about it. You tell your fellow workers and people that this is the reason why I left this.”
Chitrangada further says it needs to be appreciated that women in the industry are talking openly about sexual harassment with their colleagues and “finding ways to not let this happen.”
“But its not about going out in the media and making a statement and calling names. I dont think that itself alone becomes a MeToo movement. As far as that kind of a thing is concerned, its happening. Where internally women are putting their foot down, I know that in our industry they are not allowing this. They are discussing it with their colleagues and finding ways to not let this happen. There is a MeToo movement without a hashtag for the media. Every country and society would have their way of doing it. That is what we should appreciate instead of saying oh you dont talk about it. How we are going about it is completely different than the west and we should appreciate that.”
The actor also reveals there have been several times in her over a decade long-career when she stood against the offer to compromise.
“I have made a choice over and over again but I dont want to go out and gloat about it because thats a choice I have made. Thats my MeToo movement. That needs courage. Thats what we should appreciate and encourage more than going out and holding a flag up. Which you should, but as I said every society works differently. This MeToo movement should be everywhere. Even a housewife should understand this. Its not just about celebrities or entertainment industry. Its about a woman anywhere should be able to have the courage that she puts her foot down for the sake of her self respect and thats the choice she should make. She must make,” says Chitrangada Singh.
It takes time for people to take you seriously as a producer
Chitrangada was met with raised eyebrows and doubts when she announced her plans to produce films. The actor says the scepticism was stemmed in the prejudice against female producers, more so with female actors-turned-filmmakers.
“Theres this notion that shes producing a film means she isnt getting acting offers. I dont deny that kind of doubt because this is what they think and its probably whats been happening. Itll take time to change the way they think and once we start proving ourselves as producers then itll become normal. I dont think they question so much anyway, whether its Rhea Kapoor or Ekta Kapoor. There are a lot of women here who are making their place. Its changing.”
The actor, who has her eyes already set on two future productions, says it wasnt easy putting out her vision to people in power because of this stereotype. “Yes, it takes a little bit of time for people to take you or your intent as a producer seriously. I will allow them the doubt because when youre doing something for the first time people will have questions. Its a little unexpected for anyone when I walk in and Im like This is what I want to do now. It would take a while for them to put faith in you.”
Career has been patchy, but not one of regrets
Taking a long break in an industry is a risk, one which Chitrangada was aware of while making the choice.
“Its been a bit patchy when I have come in and gone out. So, the body of work doesnt have as many films as I would have wished. But the journey having gone back and then come back was quite exhilarating. Its bit of I dont know whats going to happen. I dont know when I get back, what kind of films will I get, but its always been a pleasant surprise.
Once back, the actor had to “make those calls” and she says it took some time for people to take notice of her. “You do have to make those calls and approach them because they wouldnt know youre back. Theres this confusion – oh, is she back? Is she working? So, it did take some time for people to know Im working again. Everythings not in your control but theres no sense of regret. I dont think I missed out on something so big that Oh! my life wouldve been so much better. Personally, Im in a happy space and everything feels like a bonus. In a place, which has sort of a short memory, people have remembered me,” she says.
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