By Arundhuti Banerjee
Kajol, Shruti Hassan, and Neena Kulkarni -- actresses belonging to different generations -- have worked together in the short film "Devi". They insist that real empowerment will happen when women unite and share sisterhood, and catfight becomes an outdated concept.
For Shruti, sisterhood is an important aspect of empowerment. "I think the sisterhood is not strong enough, and that is one of the important aspects of empowerment. Even in the film, these women start off with fights and argument, but in the end they unite because the root cause is the same -- all of them are victims. Why do we have to deal with something as rape to support and stand by each other. If we want to bring about a change, we have to celebrate sisterhood. Instead of thinking that another successful woman is my competition, we should celebrate each other's achievements and stand by each other. The argument is a healthy practice but hatred is not and that should be stopped by celebrating sisterhood."
Directed by Priyanka Banerjee, "Devi" revolves around a group of rape victims, from different socio-economic strata, and how they unite to fight a heinous crime like rape.
Shruti added: "Women are facing atrocities and discrimination worldwide, and unless we stand by each other we will never be able to bring the bigger change. We have to understand that crime like rape and other social discrimination is happening on women beyond age, caste and social status. So, why can't we just unite beyond caste, age and socio-economic status?"
While gender-based discrimination has been happening for ages, it is also true that women often engage in catfights.
"We are often asked questions about how my bonding was with a female co-star or if there were any catfights. Can I just say, catfights are too outdated and childish! Sisterhood is the new cool. We should upgrade to that," replied Shruti.
Kajol, who portrays a rape-victim housewife in "Devi", felt: "Catfight is imposed in our mind by society to create insecurity among us, women. I find it is nonsense. When it comes to fights and arguments among women, I would say it is only natural that no two human beings have to get along with each other. Not everyone has to be my friend. That does not mean the person is my enemy or hater. It is high time we women unite to celebrate sisterhood because catfights are outdated."
The film also features Neha Dhupia, Mukta Barve, Sandhya Mhatre, Rama Joshi, Yashaswini Dayama and Shivani Raghuvanshi.
Neena Kulkarni agreed: "Humein insecure feel karaya jata hai (we are made to feel insecure) and we were conditioned to look at another happy woman as competition. I have been working in the entertainment industry for the last 46 years, and I have friends here who stand by each other. I think so-called 'bromance' and 'brotherhood' is a new concept. We women have always been standing, celebrating and fighting together against all the atrocity."
Seconding her point Shruti said: "I think generalising is dangerous. One should not think all men are bad and all women are my competition. If I count you as my rival because of your gender, then that is discrimination, too. I can dislike an individual based on her opinion, habit or just the fact that we do not get along. But that has nothing to play on that 'women are women's worse enemy' theory. In my personal life, I do not 'like' or 'dislike' people based on gender."
Neena mentioned: "Also, two women arguing on a matter is not a catfight. Do we name it the same way when two men fight?"
"Devi" released on Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films' YouTube channel on Monday. The film is produced by Electric Apples Entertainment.