7 Bollywood Actresses Call Out Everyday Sexism In The Industry, Film Companion
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Over the years, we at Film Companion have had several conversations with leading actresses on what it’s like to navigate the movie business, and why their experiences are different from the men. Here are some of the most powerful conversations that stayed with us.

Kangana Ranaut Asks ‘Why Is It So Hard to Say Vagina’ 

I remember when I got hurt with a sword while shooting for Manikarnika, a lot of people from my crew told me I was very brave in the way I dealt with it. They came to me and said ‘you have got balls’ and I was like ‘No, I don’t have balls’. I have a vagina, why can’t anyone say that word? What is it about balls that it’s so easy to say than vagina. Ovaries is much cooler to say! The same goes for words like ‘pussy’ or ‘sissy’ – why are a woman’s organs associated with cowardice. That’s horrible because you can carry a human being in your damn vagina so how can it be associated with weakness. So there is a lot of brain washing and I want us to be free of that. In my 30s it’s getting embarrassing to consistently fighting for things like equal pay and equal work.

Sonam Kapoor On The Struggle To Make Veere Di Wedding

I am not here to make money. It would be nice but I would like my projects to get the money. I am not asking for it. I would never put so much pressure on a film. But I would not get the kind of money John Abraham and  Varun Dhawan got to make Dishoom. It’s way more than what Kareena (Kapoor) and I were getting to make Veerey Di Wedding. I do think Kareena and I have a wider audience or we could open a film as big as them and we could do as well as them. I mean Veerey Di Wedding is a commercial film. But I have to cut my fee and Bebo (Kareena) has to cut her fee to make this film. It’s just a patriarchal society and there is a lot of sexism and it’s disgusting.

Anushka Sharma On Everyday Sexism 

When actors produce a film they get a huge amount of money. But when I was making NH10 I had to literally say, I will produce the film so that the film can be made in that much of a budget, otherwise this film cannot be made. So you have to always feel that discrimination. And it’s not just with money. I swear to God, when you are on an outdoor schedule you know the guy is gonna get a better room than you. Why does that need to happen? I am sure every hotel has two really good rooms.

Taapsee Pannu On Working In The South Film Industry 

There have been situations (in the South film industry) where actors have told me to dub lines differently because they don’t like it. Can you imagine they have asked me to change my lines in my close-up shot? So I’m saying one thing and they’re asking me to dub another line. When I refused, they made someone else dub for that one line. My cheques have bounced and signed contracts have been annulled because the producer’s last film didn’t work. But he didn’t change anything in the actor’s remuneration. At that time you get really angry and want to shout out and tell the world about how unfair this is. I don’t take names but I do say it out loud so that people who follow me know that this actually happens and that shouldn’t stop you from growing. Your eventual revenge is success. That’s what’s going to make them feel sorry.

Priyanka Chopra On Not Being Replaceable 

I have always tried to push the envelope little bit. Especially when I started in the movies in early 2000s, the girls were always the pretty faces, which is amazing. I love my saree blowing in the wind and I love the boy serenading me. But it was just limited to that. When I was told at 19 or 20 ‘ki ladkiya tho interchangeable hoti hai filmo mein. Agar ek heroine nahi mili toh nayi launch kar lenge. Kya farak padta hai’. I think subconsciously it really stuck in my head. I made my career what it is because I had something telling me that I will not be replaceable.

Jacqueline Fernandez On Her Initial Days In Bollywood

When I had first come here I was told by a lot of people, ‘just look good, just work on how you are looking, work on your styling, work on your body, work on your looks. You don’t have to worry about anything else. You don’t even have to worry about acting.’ I was getting work just on the based on my appearance, I fit into that glamour kind of world. But that is a huge insecurity I have (being interchangeable). You need to take control and put your foot down and stuff. Someone like Priyanka (Chopra) is superwoman – she did it right from the start. But I found it difficult. I was a foreigner, I didn’t know the language, then what is my upper hand. I mean pretty girls come and go.

Richa Chadha On Being Asked To Play Hrithik Roshan’s Mom 

When I did Gangs of Wasseypur I was much younger. Right after the film released, all the parts I got were the same – basically a UP or Bihari house and going back to 45 to 50 years of age which was at the time half of my age. That’s when the fear came into my mind. I got a random call from a random casting director who hadn’t even seen Gangs. He knew what I looked like but they called me to play Hrithik Roshan’s mother in Agneepath. So I said ‘do you know what I look like? I am just gonna take a photo and send it to you. Don’t do this to me’.

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