Andrea Jeremiah is known for the strong roles she has essayed over the years. Speaking on the occasion of International Women's Day at Jeppiar College, Chennai, Andrea took on patriarchy in the Tamil film industry.
Admitting that the film industry, her workplace, was a male-dominated space, Andrea went on to ask who the superstars of Indian cinema were.
As the crowd roared, she said, "You will name Shah Rukh Khan, Salman, Khan, Aamir Khan, Rajinikanth..."
The point the actor was making was that women hardly figure in the list of superstars because roles are seldom written for them and narratives do not revolve around their character.
Andrea further revealed that despite the rave reviews and appreciation from the audience that she had received for Taramani, directed by Ram, she was yet to sign her next film. However, a woman actor who does a blockbuster film with a star like Vijay, would go on a signing spree, she pointed out.
In Taramani, Andrea played a single, employed mom.
Andrea noted that the success of a woman star is measured by which male superstar she has acted with rather than her own work.
â€śIndian cinema is changing. But in order for a Deepika Padukone to be a Deepika Padukone she had to act with Shah Rukh Khan,â€ť says Andrea. â€śYes, I can look hot and sexy and I can act also. So, write roles for me and donâ€™t ask me to come on screen and jiggle my butt and wear revealing clothes and be happy with that,â€ť she adds.
Acknowledging that patriarchy was not limited to men, Andrea said that she had to fight her mother's ideas about what a woman should be like in order to get where she was.
Andrea started her career in theatre and went on to do films like Aayirathil Oruvan, Annayum Rasoolum, Pachaikili Muthucharam, Mankatha, Vishwaroopam, Thupparivalan and Aval. She is also a talented singer and has sung several hit numbers.
Conversations on gender inequality in the film industry are still at a nascent stage in Indian cinema. Nevertheless, more women professionals from the cinema field are opening up to discuss the misogyny and patriarchy that they confront on screen as well as off it on an everyday basis.