Shoojit Sircar, the director of the National Award-winning film Vicky Donor, the critically acclaimed female protagonist-driven drama Piku and last year's sleeper hit, Pink, which addressed the debate on women's consent, spoke to BT about how today's film sets have increasingly become a space where women's presence is at par with men's. He also mused on how the workspace today is female-friendly. He reiterated the fact that #noconditionsapply for women either in front of the camera or behind it, throughout this chat.
"I trust a team of women crew members more than a team of male crew members"
I joined the film industry in 2001 and at that time, there was only one female assistant director who worked with me. Today, almost all my assistants are women. Most importantly, key departments which were previously male-dominated, are now being handled and headed by women. These include, scriptwriting, art direction, editing, make-up, costume design and production. The last decade has seen a sea change in the industry towards a more gender inclusive workspace. Personally, I trust a team of female crew members more than a team of male crew members. I can exit the set and leave it to my team of women crew members to get the job done. I can completely depend on them.
"Credit for initiating change goes to women"
Women have initiated the change all by themselves. The credit goes to them. Men have had no role to play in the rise in women's representation on a film set. Women have shown the willingness, the courage and have shouldered the responsibility of letting their talent speak for themselves. Equal representation of both sexes has also been encouraged due to awareness in the digital age. Men have realised that when it comes to the workplace, both the sexes have equal stake because jobs are given based on talent and skill. Skill is of utmost importance. Women have shown their skills and that's why they have been accepted in the industry. It's through their skill that they have managed to make a mark for themselves and also earned respect. Also, one needs to keep in mind that filmmaking is a creative medium and the vision may differ based on gender, but the opportunities are equal for both.
"Spot boys and lightmen have been way more accepting of the change"
As far as accepting the influx of women on sets is concerned, spot boys and lightmen, who come from a far less economically privileged background, have been way more accepting, than the more 'aware' people. I have set designers, who tell their workers exactly what to do and they have had no qualms in taking orders from a woman or having a lady at the helm of affairs. They seem to be pretty cool about it!
"Pay disparity is slowly being bridged"
While female actors might be paid less than their male counterparts when it comes to being in front of the camera, behind the scenes, the scenario is completely different. When it comes to technical jobs, both men and women are paid equally. In fact for Piku, Deepika Padukone was the highest paid actor as she was the film's leading lady and this is a fact, which has been reiterated by Amitabh Bachchan himself.