Mumbai, Nov 17 (IANS) National Award-winning actress Kalki Koechlin, known for being vocal about gender equality, says that in a fluid work environment like a film set, it is important to create awareness on behaviour and code of conduct through workshops for a safer and gender-neutral professional space.
During a panel discussion at the 9th Tata Literature Live here on Saturday, Kalki was asked about how the film industry is trying to bring a change for women at the workplace in the wake of #MeToo movement.
She said: “Since a film set is not a proper office space, especially while shooting outdoors, somewhere in a remote village located at some corner of the country, it is important for people to understand there’s a certain behaviour and a code of conduct that needs to be followed.
“A lot of verbal and physical workshops are going on these days to create that awareness.”
The actress believes that right conversation at home with children can be effective to create awareness.
“I have a little brother who turned 11 yesterday and he is asking what is rape, he is asking more about what is violence and these questions. I think we have to have regular conversations with our children to create awareness.
“Children do not lose innocence when you talk about violence; they lose innocence when they are violent. So, it is better to make them understand what violence is, and why that should be discouraged.
“I know how I fought patriarchy in the home with my own father. Though he is quite a liberal man, there are certain habits that are still there,” added Kalki, who wrote and performed poetry like “Wo-Manologue” and “Spotlight” to express her opinion on gender equality.
She believes that sexual desire and sexual violence are co-related and therefore making a young mind understand that sexual desire is natural and it should not be repressed is important.
Talking about the practice of shaming the victim, Kalki said: “I think it is important to see how we are portraying things in media. For example, while reporting instead of saying a 9-year-old girl got raped by a 45-year-old man, we should write a 45-year-old man raped a 9-year-old girl. This is how we can highlight and shame the perpetrator and not the victim.”
Having started her career in Bollywood with the film “Dev.D”, Kalki has appeared in and received appreciation for her role in films like “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara”, “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani”, “Margarita with a Straw” and “A Death in the Gunj”.
She has earlier raised her voice on pay disparity in the entertainment business.
Prodded about it, Kalki said: “I can see if there is a story of a male hero and the heroine is just there in the story to support the hero, it is quite obvious that the male actor will bring the audience to the theatre… Which means he is bringing business…
“Then it is only natural that the male actor will get paid more. So, we also need to look at the context and how we are telling a story.”
“I think writing a story which includes the female gaze, which includes the female perspective, is so important for a long-term change. You know there are films where I get paid more than my male co-actors because I am playing the main role. But of course that is the tiny exception. When you have such exceptions in films like ‘Queen’ and ‘Piku’, it is positive.
“But in most of the cases, the stories are still revolving around mail heroism. Therefore, I think we need more female stories in order to balance that out,” added the actress, who will be seen in Zoya Akhtar’s “Gully Boys” next year.