THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It was in 2007 that I made a comeback to the Malayalam film industry. It was startling at first, as I couldn’t recognise how much it had changed in every way, including in the quality of films being made. In Bollywood, each artist has their own security personnel. During my stint there, I found that it wasn’t easy for an outsider to barge into my personal space.
Here though, it was a different story. Luckily for me, my ‘Bollywood actress’ tag, and my insistence on a personal make-up room helped.
I was among the privileged few to have an entire room to myself on the sets. To this day, I see many women, including senior artists, avoid using restrooms as there are no safe ones. If they just have to go, they use the ones in nearby houses.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that women sometimes use clothes to create a makeshift toilet. On some sets, I have seen all the women getting crammed into a single room. While I understand budgeting constraints, what I’ve seen amounts to gross negligence.
I firmly believe that women should ask for their rights. Many out there are happy just getting a job, let alone make demands for proper work spaces. This needs to change. Women need to become vocal.
I also don’t understand why the women who can afford it, don’t provide themselves with a make-up van. In an industry like ours, it’s sometimes impractical to expect the producer to provide you all the facilities.
When basic needs aren’t met, what’s the point in debating income inequalities? Regardless of how many awards you win, your salary doesn’t get increased.
Our industry is probably the only one where awards mean nothing. But everything said, this industry has given me everything I have. And if my daughter wanted to make her living in the industry, I’d encourage her. But I’d also tell her to fight for her rights.