The Huddle

The Huddle 2020 | Heroes still not okay with ceding screen space to women, says actor Taapsee Pannu

New-age scripts: Actor Taapsee Pannu, Namrata Rao, editor, and Atika Chohan, screenwriter, at a discussion on ‘Women in the age of cinema’.

New-age scripts: Actor Taapsee Pannu, Namrata Rao, editor, and Atika Chohan, screenwriter, at a discussion on ‘Women in the age of cinema’.   | Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

Men reluctant to play secondary role in Indian movies, says actor

Even though the Hindi film industry is witnessing a surge in the number of women-oriented films, male actors are still not comfortable sharing lesser screen space compared their women leads, said actor Taapsee Pannu on Saturday.

She was speaking at The Huddle 2020 at the session, “Gender Bender: Women in the new age of cinema” and narrated several instances of male actors showing reluctance to play a secondary role in a film. Ms Pannu said a leading actor, in fact, had refused to work with her in a film where he was given 40% screen time. He said he had been advised by people that he should not do this film at “this stage in his career”, the actor quoted him as saying. 

Ms. Pannu also spoke of how women are always put on a pedestal which often deprives them of “feeling the regular emotions.”

‘Female voice’

“We are now, however, walking down from the pedestal to become normal human beings. In films, the aspirational hero is now being replaced by real people,” she said. 

Speaking of women in the new age of cinema, screenwriter Atika Chohan said the “consolidation of the female voice” was a collective momentum of all female artistes. She also spoke of how feminism could not be superimposed on any story but should be organic.

“My perspective is feminist and I make sure that there is an equal balance between male and female characters,” she said. Writers like her believe that a female protagonist should claim her voice in the film and not let men take away the narrative from her. 

Talking on the #MeToo movement, Namrata Rao, editor, spoke of how the movement had brought out solidarity and a sense of sisterhood among the fraternity. Ms. Chohan said she was grateful to the movement, but added that it did affect her work opportunities and some men in the industry had distanced themselves from her. 

‘Social conditioning’

All the three panellists spoke of how they had to battle with their own social conditioning. Ms. Chohan said she constantly questions herself at work and wondered if she could be a “carrier of misogyny.”

Speaking of sexism which is deeply ingrained, Ms. Pannu spoke of how she was told by a producer that she was the “female Ayushmann Khurrana.”

“Things are normalised to such a large extent that a compliment is not actually a compliment. For how long will my benchmark be based on achievements of male actors?” she asked. 

The session was moderated by Namrata Joshi, Cinema Editor, The Hindu.




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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 5:28:08 PM |

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