Why cinematography is still a male-dominated field in India

There are about only 80 women working in cinematography and related fields in the country today.

 |  3-minute read |   20-04-2018
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In her second feature, Idak, cinematographer Archana Borhade had to shoot on the tough terrains of Solapur and Bhimashankar in Maharashtra with unpredictable weather and in available light. Adding to challenges was the fact that one of the film’s leading characters is a goat. “We had two similar goats — Somya and Gomya — who were both incredibly playful and fun to be with on location, but it was quite a task for our trainer Shankar Anna to get them to perform for the camera,” said Borhade who made her debut with Phuntroo (2016), the first sci-fi film in Marathi.

“The goat would often take its own path and we would have to follow it wherever it went. From the focus pulling perspective, it was quite a feat to keep the goat in constant focus,” she said.

Borhade’s patience and perseverance have paid off after she was awarded the Maharashtra State Award for her work in the Marathi film. Produced by actor Sharad Kelkar and Baishakhi Banerjee, the film is also nominated for best film and best story. The Deepak Gawade-directed drama follows a 30-something man’s journey to a religious fair where he is assured of divine redemption once he sacrifices the “idak”, goat in colloquial Marathi.

cinema_042018121844.jpgPhoto: Mail Today

Idak is also one of three Marathi films to be shown at the Cannes.

An engineering graduate from Mumbai University, Borhade was a software engineer for Wipro Technologies before being bitten by the cinematography bug. After doing a short course from Mindscreen Film Institute (MFI) in Chennai where she trained under the guidance of noted director and cinematographer Rajiv Menon, Borhade began by assisting cameramen such as Alphonse Roy on Aamir (2008). She went solo in 2010, initially shooting corporate films and also writing and directing a multiple award-winning short Bhopal Diaries (2012) which screened at many international festivals.

Borhade feels that while cinematography is seen as a male-dominated field, the situation for the female practitioners has changed for the better compared to when she began 11 years ago. “I think we have made significant strides in terms of gender equality in the field of cinematography,” said Borhade, who is part of the Indian Women Cinematographers' Collective formed in March 2017.

There are about 80 women working in cinematography and related fields in India today that we know of and more are expected to join soon.” The field is only going to have more women, feels Borhade, going by the number of vocational enquiries that the IWCC receives from girls studying in media-related programmes across the country. “So we are looking forward, to a gender-equal cinematographic society in near future,” she concluded.

But Borhade’s ultimate wish is that “someday each of us will be judged purely on the basis of merit and that gender becomes a discarded artefact of a bygone century.” Borhade’s next is Ek Nirnay, directed by Shrirang Deshmukh.

(Courtesy of Mail Today)

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Suhani Singh Suhani Singh @suhani84

The writer is Senior Associate Editor, India Today.

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