On the occasion of Independence Day, popular film personalities talk to S Subhakeerthana and Gopinath
Rajendran about the freedom they still seek.
Being able to make good films’
Above all, I want financial independence to make my films. The story, not the actors, should decide the budget.
In Tamil cinema, it’s the other way round.
I don’t have the freedom to think of a story for its own sake. If I have to do a commercial film, my story is expected to be written around the actor. In some way or the other, a filmmaker is always made to compromise.
Also, I think there needs to be a change in the audience’s mindset. They should support good cinema, and not just look at it as a form of entertainment.
‘Freedom can’t be given; it has to be taken’
Freedom, according to me, is the ability to choose my life, which includes the films I do. While I am not sure about other actors, I can confidently tell you that I’ve created a space for myself where I can exercise that freedom. Initially, I couldn’t pick the films I wanted, but I slowly realised that freedom can’t be given. It has to be taken. Also, I believe that an individual has all the rights to freely express themselves. I am talking about creative liberty here. Of course, it should not be abusive, defamatory, or be forbidden by law.
‘To live without being judged’
I need the freedom to make better choices without being judged. I am on a journey of self-discovery, and have my own strong views on practices in cinema. Briefing your actors and allowing them their freedom to perform is crucial. Such discussions give us, the artistes, ideas that are not etched in the script, which result in better performances.
‘Being able to release films without censor cuts’
Freedom is being able to narrate an untold story. Independence is getting a censor certificate without any cuts. Freedom is narrating a story which allows us to rediscover history or the facts we think we know. Cinema is one of the greatest art forms that gives people a chance to discover different experiences. We need more people to come up with strong stories.
‘Doing what I want to do’
We live in a country where sentiments are used to seek curbs on all manner of creative expressions.
Sadly, everyone has his or her own agenda. Doing what I want to do is freedom to me.
‘Stopping regular attacks on films by some groups’
There’s much freedom in India as far as the importance we give to our regional films is concerned. When I visit countries like Singapore, Sri Lanka, and the UK, people talk to me about the culture of our people they’ve seen through our films. This connects the world in a way.
We also get to talk about our Censor Board. That’s also freedom. A few years back, we had a taxation committee, and to apply for exemption, we needed a U certificate. Thankfully, this has relaxed now. But on the other hand, we also have some groups that constantly complain about their hurt sentiments. Yearly, at least three films are facing this issue.
‘Let’s be more collaborative please’
In an industry that is dotted with many issues, I think that there should be more freedom to take a collaborative approach to create content. Filmmaking shouldn’t be about who’s right or wrong, but more about how better output can be created. After Aaranya Kaandam, I couldn’t produce quality films. It’s an important thing for creative minds to trust each other and make better films. The freedom one gets to try different approaches is only possible if there are no financial pressures. Change is happening but slowly.
‘Freedom? What freedom?’
Seventy years after independence, have women truly attained freedom? I don’t think so. Women technicians aren’t getting equal wages. In my opinion, women are more hard working and dedicated than men. We are as efficient. Why then are we getting paid lesser? I am not asking for additional privileges citing that we are women. I’m simply demanding equality in income and general treatment at work spaces. Over the years, there have been many instances when I have felt that this industry is unsafe for women. It has become better, but should improve further.