Huma Qureshi says she has had to deal with people making sexual advances at her, not only in the cinema industry, but by people from different professions. Asked about sexual exploitation and harassment of women, Huma said, “Well, as a woman, absolutely, I have had to deal with people making advances at me, but not just people from the business of film industry, but people across different professions and different strata. I think it has a lot to do with power, it is not only limited to the film business.”
Speaking is important
Currently attending the 71st Cannes Film Festival as a brand ambassador for a liquor brand, Huma spoke about the #MeToo movement, freedom of expression and the situation of women in India, besides her own journey. She said for many women at the receiving end, it becomes difficult to come out and speak. “In India and elsewhere in the world, the moment a woman speaks out against harassment, people sort of start making all sorts of character judgments about her, about her morality, about what she was wearing and all such things and I think that is not fair,” she added.
“If a woman is saying something out loud, she is asking for help and you have no business to character assassinating her. You have to reach out to her and help her and protect her and I think we need to protect our women and we need to protect our children.”
Making cinema global
Huma also emphasised on the need to open up the world of cinema to the common people, adding that global cinema needed to be democratised to make not only watching films more accessible, but also to allow more people to make films and show them to the world.
The actress touched upon the point of democratisation of cinema during her speech too at the inauguration of the India Pavilion here. “I think it is happening and it should happen. One thing is that more and more people are turning to digital, which of course makes the whole thing far cheaper and hence filmmaking is no longer a protected, elitist, closed medium anymore. More and more people now have access to making films and watching films. I think it is so important,” she said.
For the “Gangs Of Wasseypur”, “Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana”, “Dedh Ishqiya” and “Viceroy’s House” actress, coming back to Cannes is special as it was here that her first film “Gangs of Wasseypur” was screened six years ago. “It was literally like a dream come true. I did not even for a moment think that a film about gangsters from India and that too set in that period and in the heartland, a place like Wasseypur, would find a resonance with the French or global audience. But I remember the screening over here and it was a very special occasion,” she said.