Not made up, this glass ceiling - SC spotlight on male make-up artists keeping women out

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  • Published 24.02.13

New Delhi, Feb. 23: The Supreme Court has agreed to examine whether male make-up artists working in film production units could keep women out to secure their jobs.

A bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra asked the Centre, Cine Costume & Make-up Artists’ Association, Mumbai, and the Film Employees’ Federation of Southern India to respond in four weeks.

The notice was given on a petition filed by female make-up artists, Charu Khurana and others, alleging discriminatory practices by the two associations and their affiliated make-up artist unions.

Charu submitted that she was a trained make-up artist and had qualified from the Cinema Makeup School, California, but that her application for membership was rejected by the CCMAA on August 8, 2009, only because she was a woman.

“Make-up artist cards are issued only to the male member… to ensure that male members are not deprived of their earning(s) to support themselves and their families because nobody would be interested to engage the services of (a) male make-up-artist if services of female artist are available,” the association had said in its letter to Charu.

Senior counsel Indu Malhotra, appearing for the petitioners, argued that this violated the right to equality (Article 14) and the right to carry on any profession (Article 19.1) guaranteed by the Constitution.

The petition said only make-up artists or hairdressers who register with the respective associations can work in production units.

The petitioner said the National Commission for Women had about a year and a half ago directed the association to register her as a member, but the CCMAA had not complied with the directive.

Despite repeated representations to various state women’s commissions and the NCW, women make-up artists remained shut out of production units, the petition said. A member of any of the associations can work anywhere in the country.

Charu also said in the petition that in August 2012, she got work in the Tamil film Alex Pandian but male make-up artists came on set in Chennai and misbehaved with her, after which she lodged an FIR. The film, starring Karti and Anushka Shetty, released last month amid hype but has flopped.

Chennai-based Banu is a rare woman make-up artist who gets to work in films without resistance. She was hired by Rajinikanth for his mega-hit Endhiran — The Boss. Given Rajinikanth’s influence and the Sun Films banner, the make-up artists’ union did not object. Banu was given a membership card by the union.

Petitioner Charu requested the court to give an appropriate directive to the authorities to ensure that women and girls are allowed to work as make-up artists.

The court has agreed to examine if rights guaranteed under the Constitution were being violated.