"More than the pressure of coming out with a good film that is at par with Manhole, is the pressure of just making another film," says Vidhu Vincent, director of the Malayalam film on a community of manual scavengers in Kerala, that won her the best director award at the Kerala State Film Awards.
Manhole was also adjudged as the best film of the year 2016.
At the venue of the three-day Malayalam Film Festival that began in Bengaluru on Friday, Vidhu spoke to TNM about the success of her film, her plans of next projects and the need to carve out a space for women filmmakers telling the stories of women, in the Malayalam film industry.
Vidhu is one film old and her debut film won her several laurels and recognition. With the standards set high, does she have the pressure of her next film being at par with Manhole?
The actual pressure, Vidhu explains, is not necessarily to come up with a good film, but to just launch her next film soon.
"When you are a woman film maker, you constantly have to prove yourself, no matter how many good films you have made. So, I feel people are expecting me to churn out more number of films like many of the male film makers in the industry do. That's the pressure that is more evident. For instance, say film makers like Sreebala Menon. She makes one film a year," Vidhu says.
She feels it is not just in the film industry that this is true, but in every profession women are part of. Prior to directing Manhole, Vidhu was a full-time television journalist.
"Even when I was working as a journalist, I have noticed that people expect you to prove yourself every single day. Find something that others cannot, do something different, all on a daily basis. I don't see the same treatment with the men in the industry," Vidhu says.
Vidhu also spoke about how the lack of confidence from producers to women filmmakers was a roadblock for women filmmakers to produce more films.
"When you are man and has made a good film, it is somehow easier for producers to trust you. But that's not the case with women film makers. When I pitch my second film to producers, a woman-oriented film, I see that producers are way too skeptical," says Vidhu.
Are there any new projects in the pipeline? Excitedly, Vidhu shares that she is working on two films at the moment, but hasn't got a producer for both the films.
"One is still in the initial stages. The other one is a woman-oriented film, that will have more women technicians on board, including the camera person. I look forward to exploring women's lives in a different tangent. For instance, in Dileesh Pothan's Maheshinte Prathikaram, you see the nuances of a man's character, how he reacts to certain events in his life. What I want to portray is the nuances of a woman's character, her everyday life and battles," says Vidhu.
With the recent Bollywood film Lipstick Under My Burqa being critically acclaimed for its bold and real portrayal of women's desires and their sexuality, can we expect such a film in Malayalam from Vidhu?
After a brief thought, Vidhu says that the Malayali audience have already been exposed to such films that deal with women's sexuality, through other language films.
"Women's sexuality and her desires is something that has been brought out in the screen many times, I feel. So, my attempt would be to deal with the lives of women through a different tangent altogether. But when I speak about making a woman-oriented film, I see a lot of people making the assumption that it will have to do with women's sexuality," she laughs.
The fight to carve out a space for women filmmakers in the still male-dominated Malayalam film industry is an ongoing struggle, Vidhu says. With the launch of Women in Cinema Collective (WCC), Vidhu feels that the forum will help in establishing a space for women technicians.