'We see no lack of capability in our women folk,' says Richa Chadha

Actress talks about, The Undercurrent Film Lab, her joint incubation programme with director Shuchi Talati which aims to create female crews in the lighting department in Bollywood and more

Lipika VarmaUpdated: Saturday, June 11, 2022, 11:37 PM IST
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Pic: Instagram/therichachadha

Richa Chadha and director Shuchi Talati have united for an initiative for equality for women in the film industry. They are starting The Undercurrent Film Lab to train women in cinema lighting. Select trainees will have an opportunity to join the female crew on their upcoming film Girls Will Be Girls, which will go on sets in October 2022. Excerpts from a conversation with Richa:

How did this idea of training women in cinema lighting cross your minds?

Last year, we were sitting in our drawing room and discussing our film, Girls Will Be Girls, which has a sensitive storyline. It’s then that we decided to have an all-female crew. We set out to make it an all-female crew. You guys know what the reality is? There are no women in the lighting and spot department. There was just one female who is a gaffer. We came across this problem and decided to solve it. We came up with this idea: how about making an incubation programme where women can be trained about lighting, and later, we will absorb some of these girls into our project, and the other girls can be placed in other production houses. I already have an oral commitment from Kabir Khan and Mini Mathur, who are also amazing champions. But I would love to reach out to Zoya (Akhtar), Reema (Kagti) and Rohit Shetty. We can ask other big production houses to employ these women as well.

Share your experience while you were at the development stage?

At the development stage, only Shuchi won a few grants from the New York state. She then started writing the script and went to Cine Qua lab in Mexico and Jerusalem and then to Berlinale station. We have also won a grant from the Norwegian region. These are all grants given to scripts with potentials I had promised earlier also, soon we will get into production. We will be putting out more stories like Masaan, which is close to my heart. This is our humble little attempt.

Technically and physically, this is a very demanding job. Your comment?

We see no lack of capability in our women folk. In the villages, women folk carry heavy buckets of water from far away. So women can do it all. Seventy per cent of our women folks work in the field as farmers. Hopefully, we will see a change and expand it to the other departments as well.

In what capacity will Ali Fazal be participating and helping the film’s production?

There is no man, as you notice. Ali is a feminist. You see him in his producer avatar without any fan-fare as an actor. And we women can do everything, but if a man may say, ‘Can I pick up your bag?’ Why not? He is so cute and helps us all.

Go on...

Girls Will Be Girls is a coming-of-age film about a mother and her daughter. We received help from many quarters. One of Ali’s and my friends gave us a place. This is the kind of support we have for this programme. Anybody who we sought for help and support has just come on board to help us free of cost and given the most generous things to us.

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