I often ask this question of why one single day to celebrate 'International Women's Day'? Every day of being a woman is a celebration of the diverse roles that women play as a daughter, sister, wife, mother, mother-in-law, grand mother and aunt (encompassing athai, chithi, periamma, maami or manni). And when you step out of home, there's not a single industry that functions without its female nurses, doctors, teachers, air hostess, tea pickers, interior / fashion designers, journalists, counselors, wedding planners or researchers in the respective arenas.
While we have real women achievers in everyday life, the reel people who participated in the history of making women centric films and those women who have slogged it out on reel merit a mention since they're achievers in their own right. And what better occasion to recall some of them when the whole world is observing a special day for the wonderful women. My first salute goes to the first woman writer, heroine (Kalidas), director, editor and music composer of Tamizh cinema T.P. Rajalakshmi (more popularly referred as TPR) who fought her family's orthodox views against acting in films. And we're talking about pre-independence era of 1930s! Imagine the grit and conviction someone of that time could have had to go against the tide and follow her heart.
My next revered person on the list is not a woman but a man - the living legend K. Balachander - who portrayed women with intelligence and as having a mind of their own - in his films like 'Aval Oru Thodarkathai', 'Sindhu Bhairavi' or even 'Kalki'. When women were clearly demarcated in two water-tight compartments as pure and chaste or evil and vicious, KB Sir's characterization broke the stereotypes of women portrayal in cinema. And so did Mani Ratnam’s portrayal of his women (both the adult and the girl child) as the decision makers and movers of the plot in various films like 'Kannathil Muthamittal', 'Anjali' and 'Roja' make an indelible impression.
These are still instances that we've seen or have been talked about over the years. But there are some lesser talked about women like (Late) actor SN Lakshmi who dedicated her entire life to acting in cinema. I've had a brief interaction with this iron lady during the shooting of my yet-to-be-released film and was stunned by her willingness to act till her last breath in cinema. And so she did. But there's more to her than meets the screen. Except the last couple of years where she has been using a driver occasionally, she would always drive to the sets in her stunning red Maruti 800 shuttling from one studio to another and managing her own dubbing even at that age. When other younger actors on the sets would pant and go breathless under the scorching heat, she would find a nice cozy corner for herself and settle down comfortably waiting patiently for hours together to be called for her shot.
My first film M3V's cinematographer is a woman, Fowzia Fathima who had her 2 year old child at home while she was straddling the role of a mother and a cinematographer with élan. The entire heavy weight camera owing to the style of film-making would be shouldered on her literally for almost the whole day and she would handle that physical weight so gracefully. Women slog it out in all walks of life and if they choose to have a career, they're still expected to take care of the household chores, children and their career. There is no either / or when it comes to choices for women. But the best part is, women don't complain.
One day is not enough to honor women by way of just marking March 8th as Women's day. Take any women-centric product or service ad and tempting packages galore for all women. Offering special discounts at shopping outlets, parlors, gyms, jewellery showrooms and eateries only form a superficial layer of commemorating women's existence on one single day. The real honor to women is achieved only when there is equality in society in both personal and professional spheres, only when all gender gaps are filled with girls getting the education they deserve irrespective of the economic strata, only when women are treated with dignity and respect in the remotest villages, only when women across the country know their rights and avenues to get support in distress, only when they're not seen as mere offspring creators but as co-contributors of progress, change and development.
Relatively speaking, from where we started to where women are today, one must agree that there is considerable improvement in recognizing their unparallel roles and place in society. The recent election polls in 5 different states had a greater women voter turn-out than men making and breaking the outcomes for all political parties. The national carrier is flying all women flight crew to five international destinations to London, Newark, Singapore, Doha and Bahrain for the first time ever on Women's Day. Today our female role models need not necessarily be restricted to freedom fighter Jhansi Rani or a Sita in Ramayana. Go-getters like Saina Nehwal, Barkha Dutt, Aruna Roy and Chitra Banerjee and more are right out there living their life out queen size. We have achievers living and inspiring us in our times in every field in every way. Salutations are well-deserved to each and every woman out there who defies conventional practices, restrictions, perceptions and inches her way up the success and happiness ladder. And to just list out and talk about them in detail, there's only one line that comes to my mind from the song that Balaiya asks in Thiruvilayadal... Oru Naal Poduma, Indroru naal poduma?Respond to
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