Shruti Haasan, who is a part of the just-released short film Devi, has often been vocal about the things that are wrong with the industry. Gender disparity is one of them and Shruti feels that the women working in this field have to create a protective barrier to survive in it. She opened about how the hero gets special treatment, while most women actors have to use silence as a defence mechanism.
She told PTI that her surname and her resting b****h face have helped her cope with these disparities and she is at a better position now. She said, “The combination of my surname and my resting b**** face has kept a lot of people at an arm’s length. Now after many years, I feel comfortable and safe enough to open up and say whatever I want.”
She also talked about how she realised that the ‘little’ things that she did on the sets of the films were considered impolite. “I chose silence and withdrawal as a protective mechanism. I think a lot of women on set feel that way. They’d say ‘Don’t keep reading a book, it looks impolite’. So I’d just keep going to the vanity van because I didn’t know who to communicate with. It took me a long time to learn how to navigate things,” she added.
Talking about how men get more attention than women on sets, Shruti said, “So the chair will be first kept for the hero. In my first few films, I was never offered a chair first, or on any other set. The guy always got the chair first. ‘Oh the hero has come near the monitor, get him a chair,’ they would say. It’s the good men who said, ‘No, you please sit first.’ I don’t face that anymore. But what I can do as a woman is be sensitive to the women on set.”
Talking about Devi, a film which showcases the story of nine women who, by fate, end up forming a group and share their stories of rape and abuse, Shruti said, “The script moved me as a woman. It wasn’t like a public service announcement. It’s life represented beautifully.”
“It also targets the mindset which is always quick to blame the survivor – ‘What was she wearing? Why was she out?’ Tragedy doesn’t discriminate. A rapist doesn’t quantify, qualify and calculate,” she added.
Devi is directed by Priyanka Banerjee and it also stars Kajol, Neha Dhupia, Neena Kulkarni, Mukta Barve, Sandhya Mhatre, Rama Joshi, Shivani Raghuvanshi, and Yashaswini Dayama.