Nandita Das: When directing, you don’t think whether you are a woman or not!

Bollywood actor and an activist, Nandita Das known for raising women’s issues, feels that females still face stereotypes in their daily lives. While directing the Hindi political thriller ‘Firaaq’ in 2008, the actor said she had encountered the “typical mindset” which a woman faces when she “tries to break the barriers.

When I directed Firaaq, many asked me how is it to be a woman director. But when you direct you do not think whether you are a woman or not,” said the actor who participated in a discussion on Women’s leadership organised by NGO Oxfam India.

The fact that I am a woman, comes with idea that there is a different way I look at things. For example if the film is on violence, a woman’s gaze is different than what a man looks at it,” the 44-year-old actress told our reporter.

For Das, “it is important that different taste and different perspective must be brought in.” “A lot of my feminist friends had said that they were surprised that I did a film on a subject which was not women oriented. But as a woman, we get impacted by different issues, and we react differently to different issues,” she said.

When I did Firaaq, there were also instances where people told me that they could make out that a woman had directed the film” she added.

Das was puzzled by criticisms as she attempted to dig deep to understand the reaction. “They used to tell me that the film was about violence and it’s not even violent because we as woman don’t love to see blood and gore, but we know that happens. You are busy dealing with the other layers,” she added.

“When I am on a fight, most of the time they give me magazines pitched for women. There is so much of presupposition that you being a woman would obviously love those type of magazines,” she added. Recently Das was part of an all women play in Spanish. “Initially I wondered whether it was some kind of gimmick, but later I realised that in reality it would be an all women work force including the crew,” she added.

In another play “Read Between the Lines,” Das grapples with the themes of suppression, marginalisation and stereotyping.

When I had my child, I wanted to do other work. I was the chairperson for a tourism society. I realised how much I was doubly involved. I thought here I am – a very modern woman who is vocal about women issues. Then why am I struggling in making decisions which requires so much of juggling choices?” she said.

So it is not just my story. It resonates the life of all the women and even men, because they see themselves in the same light,” Das said.

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