In this interview with Behindwoods, the director says an “everything goes in entertainment” attitude is very irresponsible.

Dont celebrate wrong things like stalking and violence in cinema Director Lakshmy Ramakrishnan
Features Cinema Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - 16:42

Despite growing social media debates, few Kollywood insiders have spoken about films and social responsibility. Actor Siddharth and director Pa.Ranjith are among the handful that have opened up about this question.

In a frank conversation with Behindwoods, director and actor Lakshmy Ramakrishnan whose new film "Ammani" has received good reviews, adds her voice to the small socially aware chorus.

Speaking about the films she has done and the influence of cinema on people, she has called for more responsibility and accountability from her colleagues while starring in or directing films.

Some excerpts:

On women directors

Lakshmy says that while her identity as a female director helps her stand out in an industry with few other such women, she acknowledges that balancing parenthood and a demanding job like direction is particularly hard for women: "Direction is not an easy job. It's not a 9-5 kind of job. There are some things at home that only women can do. Whether it's carrying the baby for 10 months, delivering it or breastfeeding for three months, men cannot do it. So women have to take off and go. Then their priority changes."

On her films

Lakshmy believes that the films she makes are not for a mass audience. "I'm happy if the producer covers his costs. If the film runs even after that, well and good," she says.

Stating that films are made for different target audiences, Lakshmy says her audience – people in the age group of 40 and above – is a very small niche group. But, Lakshmy says, she makes these films for a "higher purpose".

"I know that we're not going to make a lot of money with this. It's with that understanding that I get into it," she adds.

On heroines

When asked which actors she thinks are underrated, Lakshmy says, "I feel the talents of heroines don't come out at all. We have only seen Hansika as a bubbly, beautiful girl. Probably she has a market and a crowd-pulling power, what if we make her do a super role? Even Nayanthara for that matter, she's an extremely good performer. I feel sad that the Nayanthara I've seen in Malayalam films is missing. It's very monotonous. Nayanthara's beauty is striking, but Nayanthara the performer is missing."

She also says the same about Trisha. Lakshmy believes that South Indian women actors need author-backed roles, just as Vidya Balan got a "Kahani", to see their real talent.

On stalking and violence against women

On things she doesn’t like in the recent films she has seen, Lakshmy says, "Showing love as a very big thing. Stalking. I strongly object. Okay, cinema is for entertainment. For the cause of entertainment we can do anything is a very irresponsible line to take. In Tamil Nadu, we can never say cinema is just for entertainment. We have Chief Ministers who have come from cinema. If it was just for entertainment, this wouldn't have happened."

Lakshmy adds that more than the freedom of expression of a creator, it was social good that was important. "Don't celebrate wrong things," she says. "Celebrating violence, justifying violence, if a girl rejects a man, don't show it as such a huge insult to him, make him feel like his manliness has left him. Or that it's a big victory if he gets the girl. Rejections are normal. Disappointments are normal. Respect the girl's choice."

On women actors and their role selection

Lakshmy appeals to women actors to think about the roles they do. "A man doesn't rape a woman because she's wearing a short skirt, it's because of patriarchy that this happens. He thinks you're, after all, just a girl! I can do whatever I want with you," Lakshmy says, adding that women often don't realize the strength that they have.

"When I shaved my head for 'Yuddham Sei', I felt liberated. I didn't worry about my hair, whether my bindi was proper, if I looked beautiful," she explains, quoting Periyar who'd famously advocated that women cut their hair short and take to wearing pants in order to de-obejctify themselves. Heroines should stop seeing themselves as just showpieces and use the medium to reach out to young girls about the strength that women possess, is Lakshmy's message.

All this and more here:

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