Women cinematographers, photographers love breaking a myth

New Delhi, March 12 (Calcutta Tube) They are pushed, pinched and given weird glances, but that doesn’t dent the confidence of women photographers and cinematographers. They have walked into the profession with their talent and heavy equipment: to break the myth that the technical field is for men.

Savita Singh, Fawzia Fatima, Anushka Menon, Amala Papuri, Sharmistha Roy, Sumiko Murgai Nanda – these names may not ring a bell at once, but they are the women technicians who have carved a niche in Bollywood.

Cinematographer Deepti Gupta, a pass out of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, who did ‘Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd’, says the last decade has seen an eyebrow- raising difference in the acceptance of women in this field.

‘The film industry has since the oldest time been male-dominated and it took a little longer for women who are technical professionals to enter the world. But the last 10 years have seen a vast difference. Now, we have big names like Fawzia Fatima from Chennai and Savita Singh from Mumbai. They have become prominent figures in due course,’ Gupta told IANS.

They are also winning awards. Anjuli Shukla became the first woman cinematographer to win a national award for best cinematography for her debut movie ‘Kutty Srank’.

Savita Singh, who has done three films, including Ram Gopal Verma’s ‘Phoonk’, says she is reminded now and then that she is part of a minority group in a big pond – though not by the film fraternity.

‘I have never ever felt a difference in industry people’s behaviour just because I am a woman. Not in acceptance and not even in recognition. But people in general have a weird perception; they always remind me that I am part of a male-dominated industry. It is a complete myth, if I have to explain in a few words. No stream is male-dominated now,’ Singh told IANS.

When asked if the profession is physically demanding, the 30-year-old denied it, saying: ‘The cameras weigh about 30 to 40 kg but that is not heavy for a person who handles them every day. We don’t have to physically hold them the whole day; we have a team. The most important is an individual should know the right technique of handling the equipment and should know the art of application.’

Even photographers say being women has not been a hindrance to their career.

Fashion photographer Sumiko Murgai Nanda, who has been in the profession for a decade and a half, said: ‘I never lost a client just because I am a woman. Rather it has been beneficial at times because many clients demand a woman photographer as they feel comfortable doing shoots with them.’

The first Indian female photographer was Homai Vyarawalla who captured important events between the 1940s and 1960s and can be called a frontrunner and trailblazer for women to try their luck in professional photography. Another well-known woman photographer is Dayanita Singh.

Nanda, 40, feels women have become more gutsy now.

‘When I had started, we could count the number of woman photographers on the fingers, but now definitely women have opened up to the profession. They have become more gutsy to test themselves under different situations and surroundings.

‘The travel part is tougher for women from a security point of view; other than that I don’t see any difference in men or women in this profession.’

Anushka Menon, a fashion photographer, who has been working for six years, says gender difference doesn’t come in the way when you have the key to survival – talent.

‘It is only talent that one needs. It is key to survive in this field. Yes, in your initial years, you may feel it is quite a tedious task because one needs to carry her own equipment. So you can say it’s physically demanding as well as mentally challenging,’ said Menon.

Monisha Ajgaonkar, 22, young freelance photographer, who started working after Class 12, said: ‘You really need to have the contacts to be in this industry. However, at times you are treated like a girl when there are events where people you know behave differently.’

(Manpreet Kaur can be contacted at manpreet.k@ians.in)

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