Gender shouldn’t define pay, says Soundarya Rajinikanth

Picture credit: Soundarya Rajinikanth

In the essentially male-dominated world of film-making, time and again women have been shattering glass ceilings. But it is more of the exception rather than the rule. Producer and film-maker Soundarya Rajinikanth stands among those who have made successful strides into this boys’ club.

In a chat with Anupama Ramakrishnan, she speaks about gender equality, pay gap, balancing multiple roles and why every day should be ‘Women’s Day’.

How relevant is ‘International Women’s Day’ to you?
Not to sound cliched, but I do think everyday should be celebrated as ‘Women’s Day’. Women play so many roles every day and it’s not easy. But the women I’ve known and cherish always do it with a smile on their faces and that’s what makes it so incredibly special. Women should be celebrated and it should be done everyday.

As a successful film-maker and producer, how would you describe gender equality?
Gender equality is when access to opportunities and opinions, regardless of gender, including economic participation and decision-making is provided to all the genders. It still isn’t a fair world yet… some industries and some individuals, I can say, have started considering men and women equal. But it’s not the case all over. I sincerely hope this changes in the coming days. I’m positive it has changed already from how it was decades ago.

Who has been your biggest influence? Any woman icon?
My mother. She is this middle class simple girl who married a superstar and came into a completely new world of showbiz. The way she handles her roles — as a mother, wife, educationist and grandmother — is unbelievable. I would be proud of myself if I can be half the woman she is.

How do you look at the gender pay gap in Indian film industry?
It exists and it’s unfair. Male or female, the job is the same. Gender shouldn’t define pay.

In your personal experience as a film-maker, any challenges that you have faced as a woman?
There are physical challenges when we shoot in remote rural locations. In all my films, I’ve consciously made an effort to balance the men and women in my crew so the balancing was manageable. Women have lots of stigmas to deal with but I’m so proud of the many bold women in our industry and other industries who have come out to make their voices heard. It’s about time.

How best can you get more women to work behind the camera?
Producers should open up more and the myth that women can only work on women-oriented subjects should stop. I am happy to say both the films I have made aren’t exactly women-centric, and are mainstream commercial films.

As a filmmaker, mom, wife and daughter, how do you multitask your roles?
I consider all my roles a blessing…. It’s not easy but I’d rather have it this way than any other way! I’m grateful!

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Gender shouldn’t define pay, says Soundarya Rajinikanth

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