After taking the lead in engaging a panel to probe the problems faced by women in Malayalam cinema, the State government has directed the Justice K. Hema Commission to explore the possibility of enhancing women’s participation and ensuring their presence in the industry.
As per the seven-point terms of reference (ToR) issued for the panel that also comprises former bureaucrat K.B. Valsala Kumari and yesteryear actor Sarada, the commission would have to explore the options for improving women’s safety, security, a better salary package, service conditions, and creation of a conducive working environment.
Considering the fact that the presence of women is mostly confined to acting at present, it has been proposed to work out a scholarship or other schemes that would lure more creative talent to different departments of cinema.
This calls for providing maternity and medical benefits as in other industrial sectors, especially when they have to abstain from work. The commission would have to strive hard to submit recommendations for encouraging scenarists to write scripts that promote gender justice.
But for stray directorial endeavours, women had not so far made an endeavour for making a film on their own. In this context, the panel has been told to furnish proposals for promoting films that have at least 30% women among the crew members.
The Kerala State Chalachitra Academy has been told to act as a facilitator for the commission to conduct public hearings, hold site visits and submit its report within the stipulated six months to the government.
Official sources told The Hindu that steps would be taken soon to provide office, staff, and other facilities to the commission to start functioning in full swing. But the panel is facing the challenge of extensively travelling to all places, including Chennai, where the industry still has a prominent presence.
Garnering micro-level details of the women currently working in the industry, their working conditions, including protracted schedules and their salary within the specific time frame, would be a major challenge for the panel. The commission would have to meet representatives of fraternal organisations to elicit their opinions and suggestions too. The academy would soon have to set the process in motion to expedite the functioning of the commission, sources said.