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What Women’s Day means to Shweta Tripathi Sharma and Aahana Kumra...

The two actors tell us about the growth of female-forward narratives and more

Priyanka Roy  | Published 08.03.22, 05:58 AM
(L-R) Aahana Kumra, Shweta Tripathi Sharma

(L-R) Aahana Kumra, Shweta Tripathi Sharma

Sourced by the correspondent

The streaming wave has seen a number of talents rise and shine, of which actors Shweta Tripathi Sharma and Aahana Kumra have been indelible frontrunners. On International Women’s Day today, courtesy Netflix, the two actors tell us what Women’s Day means to them and the agency that women actors have now.

What does Women’s Day mean to you, both as an individual and as an actor?

Aahana Kumra: It is a day that’s gradually crept into our system and our society, and I see no reason why it shouldn’t be celebrated. I know a lot of women think, ‘Oh, why only one day should be celebrated as Women’s Day and for the rest of the year, we have none of these conversations?’ But I feel that there has to be a start somewhere.

Even as actors, when we do (discussion) panels on these days, it’s nice to hear what other women think about this day and about themselves as individuals and as professionals. On these panels, I bump into women from so many varied professions and it’s nice to listen to their point of view, and what their hardships have been. Which either makes you grateful that you haven’t had that much of a struggle... or you feel a certain companionship because your struggles are the same.

Shweta Tripathi Sharma: On Women’s Day, we need to celebrate something that we should celebrate every day in our lives, which is the woman in us, and the women around us. We need to celebrate women as individuals, the women around us who nurture us and help us grow, who make us believe in our dreams and who make us stronger. There is so much power in being a woman and I think it’s time we accept, access and share that.

It’s time to shatter the glass ceiling and challenge gender stereotypes and believe in the power that all of us have. It’s a community growth and that comes from love and respect. We need to accept the good in us as well as our flaws and move forward.

In terms of opportunity, visibility and level playing field, what do you make of the Indian entertainment scape now as far as female actors are concerned?

Aahana: I think we are in a space where we have at least started looking at a level playing field. I don’t know if we are in it completely.... I see a lot of women actors now doing the kind of work that they otherwise wouldn’t have imagined doing. It’s safe to say that there is a conversation about women and their work, a conversation about roles, and people are thinking out of the box and writing roles for women. There are grey characters being written... aisa nahin hain ki aap sirf heroine hain ya aap sirf vamp hain. We are seeing women on screen as holistic people.

It’s very interesting to watch women on screen, now more than ever. Like Shefali Shah is doing some very interesting work. What Sushmita Sen has done with Aarya and Raveena Tandon with Aranyak is phenomenal. These are actors of yesteryears who earlier didn’t get the kind of parts that they are getting now. They are leading shows and people are watching these shows just for them. Looking at them, younger women actors like us can at least think that we can have a career beyond age 35. I will not be written off at 40... I will perhaps have a thriving career.

Shweta: I think it’s a great time to be a creator, actor and also an audience because there is so much on the menu now. We have great parts for both men and women, parts with layers and depth. It’s so enriching to read, play and even watch such characters. We are still exploring and I can’t wait to see more women feature in women-protagonist stories.

As an actor, I am having a  great time with the kind of scripts coming my way. Which is, in a way, making me question the conditioning I and the people around me have had. That’s because when you start reading, learning and exploring, you gain a wider perspective.

As actors do you think you are limited in propelling the narrative of better female parts forward because you are, after all, not involved in creating content?

Aahana: Well, I have written a series and a film, which is still in the developing stages. I want to see these kinds of stories on screen. And I have started writing because I want to tell my own stories. See, nobody is going to do it for you. When I realised that no one was going to do it for me, I wrote it myself. It’s nice to see so many female directors now, female DoPs (director of photography)…. I work with a lot of female energy. I am doing a film now which is being directed by a woman and the lead is a woman and the female energy on set is gorgeous. It’s very calm, we do insanely long scenes and very difficult scenes with a lot of ease and panache and without any chaos on set, which is such a refreshing change.

Shweta: Again, I will answer this from the point of view of the audience because when you like something you watch, it’s a vote of confidence and that means such subjects can be focused on more. Yes, the narrative is changing, and as female actors, we are all trying to take a leap forward with every role. We are not working just selfishly as actors, but we are trying to better every project in the bigger narrative. I am also turning producer now. 

Is there a recent piece of work by a woman, whether as actor/ director/ writer that greatly impacted you?

Aahana: I am doing a film with Revathy, who is an actor, director and mother. And it’s lovely because when she finishes her scenes, she goes to parent-teacher meetings with her daughter. She does the job of a director on set and  the job of a mother simultaneously, and does both without cribbing or making a noise about it. That is so inspiring. And then I met Surveen (Chawla, actor) the other day and she has a three-year-old and comes on set without any fuss, and there are so many women like them out there who are doing it all. It’s so lovely to see how all of us are trying to normalise this space for each one of us.

Shweta: I had watched a film many years ago called Ruby Sparks and it left a huge impact on me. It’s one of my favourite films and I love Zoe Kazan, who is the lead actor, and I was literally clapping when I finished watching the film. That’s a film that encourages me to raise the bar every time. It depends on us what we see above us — whether it’s the open sky, a glass ceiling or concrete. Whatever we see, we need to crack it, not only for ourselves, but for all those who will come after us.

Last updated on 08.03.22, 05:58 AM

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