Last month, Ekta Kapoor, Tahira Kashyap and Guneet Monga launched Indian Women Rising, a collective to support Indian female talent in the film industry. They told Anupama Chopra about the most annoying things they’ve heard in their professional lives as women:
Guneet Monga: I’ve heard so many things. The list is so long. When I was pushing a lot of international co-productions like Masaan (2015), The Lunchbox (2013) and Monsoon Shootout (2017), I’d heard that I was a fluke and these films getting selected to festivals would happen only once in a while and not over and over again. I’ve entered rooms and people have asked me, ‘What do you do?’ And I’m like, ‘I’ve made 25 films, I guess I do something.’
Tahira Kashyap: I’ve heard, ‘Oh, you’re writing and you want to direct? I thought you’d probably become an interior designer.’ I’ve heard that way too many times. Why would I do that? I don’t have the qualifications or inclinations to do that. Then I joined a lot of dots and realised that while I’ve written for the most part of my life and enjoy doing that, the calling (to be a writer) came pretty late. I’m in my 30s, I have two kids and I’m judged for that too, like, ‘You want to become a director, you want to go through the hustle and the drill now? You think after two kids you have it in you to write about women or write about a film?’ And then when I wrote a screenplay, they thought that this was just a one-off. But I have a plethora of work.
Ekta Kapoor: I don’t know how many things I’ve heard. Let’s start with, ‘So you make sanskari shows and (shows that have) sex. How can you make shows about sex, you’re a girl.’ As if I don’t have private parts and I don’t have emotions. I’ve heard, ‘How can you make content about sex, what will Jeetu ji say?’ And I’m like, ‘Nothing.’ It’s my life. First of all, people can’t distinguish between sexual crime and sex. Sex is bad and sexual crime is okay. I’ve heard, ‘After doing this great body of work of really conventional Indian content, you do things like Lipstick Under My Burkha and Love Sex Aur Dhokha, things which have got no relevance to our society.’ I hear so much about the jewellery I wear, the temples I visit, the absolutely unabashed views I have on sex. People can’t put me in a box and I think that’s why there are more rumours about everything in my life. But one thing I’ve learnt is not to be attached to a pedestal. So after Indian Women Rising, if someone thinks I’m not going to make content that’s going to be bashed, or that I want to fit into a box, I’m not attached to that pedestal. This is a platform for other women.