Mumbai: When asked if Indian women filmmakers need government subsidies like in Sweden, eight emerging women directors in a unison replied "No", with an underlying message of "we do fine by ourselves, thank you", at MAMI`s 12th Mumbai Film Festival Sunday.
There cannot be any more proof of woman power than this, where the nation`s filmmakers have moved away from seeking patronage, to being their own person and damn proud of their identity as filmmakers without being singled out as women.
Asked whether women were looked as weak just because they cry, Zoya Aktar replied: "If I`m the director, it`s my party. I will cry if I want to. I will be in all my hormonal glory. I`m not going to be embarrassed by it. As a man, you have chosen to be part of my set, so you handle it, boy."
The obvious question of sexism was raised. Anusha Rizvi put it into perspective by saying that it was not just a phenomenon for the film industry but was a common occurrence in every industry globally.
"In workplaces, men have two ways of dealing with women, quiet flirtation or outright condescending. So you have to figure out how to deal with it. Beyond a point, there is no point talking about it," said the co-director of ‘Peepli Live’.
On the issue of whether being a woman made it difficult to seek funds, Zoya had a candid view. "If you can sign an Akshay Kumar, anybody will give you money to make your film. Your gender is irrelevant then," said Zoya, who made her directorial debut with ‘Luck By Chance’.
Rajshree Ojha, the director of ‘Aisha’, had the audiences in splits when she narrated her experiences of making the film. "Everybody was shouting. We had fights on the sets. There were a lot of hormones. The men were very scared of the women on the sets," she said.
Talking about stereotyping, actor-director Nandita Das said: "They expect you not to be able to handle the pressures that comes on the set as a director. There is definitely a thing of labelling women."
Director Leena Yadav, who made the Sanjay Dutt-Aishwarya Rai starrer ‘Shabd’, said: "There`s an expectation that as a woman you`ll probably make something different, and your women characters have to be outstanding."
Veteran scriptwriter and debutante director Sooni Taraporevala, when asked why it took her so long to direct her own film, said: "After having written numerous scripts for others, it took me 24 years to write my own and once I had written it I did not want to give it to anyone else. I wanted to give myself a 50-year present."
Moderated by journalist Nandini Ramnath, the stage was electrified with the cumulative intelligence and wit of these fantastic eight. It had the audiences thinking and laughing at the same time, a far cry from the usual discussion between male filmmakers.