Months after artistes in the Malayalam film industry formed the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC), a first of its kind dedicated forum for women to address their issues, the industry got yet another women's forum on Saturday.
Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA), the association for technicians from the industry, has thousands of members, both men and women. Now, FEFKA has launched its women’s wing, with popular dubbing artist Bhagyalakshmi as the Chairperson.
The forum had its first meeting in Kochi on Saturday. Speaking to TNM after the meeting, Bhagyalakshmi said that more than 50 women technicians from the industry took part in the meeting.
"Many women technicians from various fields including hair dressers, make-up artists and costume designers, took part in the meeting. They raised the issues they face when they go out for work. As far as dubbing artists are concerned, we are safe in the comfort of four walls in our studios. But others including make-up artists and assistant directors and others, who have to stay on the set for months together, find many issues coming their way. From lack of toilets while shooting at isolated places, to the attitude of the men, there are many issues that need to be voiced," Bhagyalakshmi says.
Explaining the idea behind rolling out a dedicated women's wing, Bhagyalakshmi says that while FEFKA has more than 6000 members from 19 different work fields, women are minorities in that space.
"So in a general body meeting, not all the women are comfortable raising their issues. May be they are scared whether they won't be heard, or taken seriously. So they don't talk at all. But in this women's wing, they need not hesitate to raise their voice," she says.
She insists that talks have been going on since a long time to launch a women's wing of FEFKA. Only women members of FEFKA can be members of the newly formed wing.
Ever since WCC was launched, Bhagyalakshmi has been vocal about her differences with the collective, often going on to openly criticise the latter's actions. She had also openly spoken about how the members who formed WCC had kept her out of the whole process. At one instance, Bhagyalakshmi had come down heavily on WCC, calling it "selective," indicating that it was an elite group that responded differently to issues of different women in the industry.
"Our forum and WCC are both entirely different. We are here to give voice to the women technicians who face issues every day in their work life. We will hear them out and take up the matter with the producers to sort them out. Considering AMMA and FEFKA are the two organisations that have the maximum number of women members, I feel it is important for us to stand for the women members," Bhagyalakshmi says.
She also refuted that she has differences with WCC.
"I support WCC, my issues aren't with the organisation per se. It was with my friends in WCC, who hid from me that they were launching an organisation. I'm not against WCC," she says.