Most of you will agree that one of the most difficult parts of making a short is casting the female lead. This has been, and will presumably be for the days to come until there is a cohesive change in the way woman are portrayed on screen. This isn’t just another feminist rant but the only logical conclusion that we could arrive at. Let me tell you why.
First, Is there really Deficit of People who can act? Girls who can act? No!
Theatre always was and is increasingly being recognized as an art by educational institutions- right from schools that have dramatics as an extracurricular subject to colleges that allow for fully functional, well- funded theatre clubs! And if you look at the numbers, there will be no denying that women are as passionate about acting as men.
Now with the possibility of disinterest ruled out, the second argument that arises would be that we are a conservative lot. Meh. Maybe we were a conservative lot as a different generation. Maybe gen next still is conservative, but in a completely different sense. Gone are the days when we attached stigma to off-beat roles. There’s a whole load of shorts of women talking about everything taboo, be it menstruation or same- sex love!
So How come these Films got the Girls on board and You can’t?
We talked to Rahul Menon, the brain behind FAYE- one such short with a strong female protagonist, to find out. To put it in a nutshell, FAYE is short take on the feelings of a college-going, chain-smoking, philosophy-talking prostitute and Urbi Chanda as Faye has done a brilliant job playing the part.
Want to Know How They Convinced her to get on Board?
They didn’t. When Rahul and his team were on an unsuccessful lookout for the lead, Urvi popped up much to their surprise (because the kind of cast they had in mind was completely different). She had caught the word that they had put out about role and was instantly taken with the idea. The crew was skeptical, but decided to hold her audition anyway. Her performance blew their mind and she landed the role. Rahul however was still unsure because the character was a smoker and Urvi wasn’t one. When he expressed his concern and she simply said that she would learn to, and we can’t help but admire her as we sit down to watch the short again after the interview.
So that’s our alleged conservatism, lack of commitment and perseverance gone out the window.
Then Why is it so Hard to find a Female Lead?
“All I need is for her to be in the frame for a couple of minutes, I don’t understand why anyone would refuse that. I mean, its barely any trouble” Guess You could hear this sort of whining from any filmmaker struggling with casting a female lead. That’s exactly what the problem is. Women have been objectified or side-tracked OR objectified and side-tracked for so long that it is hard to get them to even listen to a script before they say NO!
The idea is pretty simple.
Films are a reflection of reality. If we believe that women are important and start meting out well-defined roles, however infinitesimal that they may be, this problem wouldn’t exist!
There are women out there who want to act! There are women out there who love to act! So the next time you write a script, make sure that the character contributes in some way to the story. Because it’s a two- way thing, a good film is one at the end of which everyone goes out with a wee bit knowledge than what they came with.