Bengaluru, March22:One of the biggest concerns plaguing the film industry is the fight for women’s rights and equality. The Kannada film industry, in that sense, is taking a gigantic step towards legalizing a framework to ensure women’s rights are upheld. The industry is all set to have a legally-registered body that will take up cases to address gender rights and equality. The brainchild of actor Chetan, it is called Film Industry for Rights & Equality (FIRE), which has actress Priyanka Upendra as the president of the body. A group of eclectic people, each of them passionate about fighting for causes, have been put together to form the executive committee.
Talking about the reasoning behind this, Chetan says, “FIRE aims to address and correct struggles in our film industry, making it a safe and welcoming work environment. In a patriarchal society like ours, nearly all professions are dominated by men and those with notions of male superiority. The cinema industry is no different. Those in positions of film power, from producers and directors to writers and stars, are often of one gender and many with supremacist ideas, marginalizing women in both representation and rights. Also, the desire to amass increased collections by catering to a primarily male audience base leads to further objectification of women onscreen, which may be the result of and/or resulting in prejudicial treatment against women at the workplace when the cameras aren’t rolling as well.”
Chetan adds, “Hence, our initial focus at FIRE is gender concerns. We intend to tackle sexual harassment at the workplace by setting up an 11-member Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) that will investigate and handle all incidences of sexual harassment, including the ‘casting couch’ in the Kannada film industry from junior artistes to protagonists, dancers to directors. FIRE is implementing this ICCin accordance with the Central Government’s 2013 Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace policy. We hope our ICC will lead to women’s talents and abilities being prioritized over inappropriate, immoral actions by men in our film industry today and, with the creation of their own ICCs, in other adjacent industries like television, fashion, etc., as well in the near future.”
Priyanka adds, “We hope to be a united voice against all that isn’t right. We plan on looking at putting together basic human rights through this group, be it for children in the industry or senior artistes. We also hope to create awareness among the younger lot, where we want to expose the many issues and situations to the aspirants. For this, we have spoken to many veterans like Bharathi Vishnuvardhan and Hema Choudhary, and we hope to ensure everyone’s inputs and experiences will prove to be helpful to them.”
Chetan says, “FIRE has an inclusive committee with five office bearers, eight executive committee members, and five advisory council (seniors) members. We have included women and men from various departments of the film industry including workers, choreographers, coordinators, writers, directors, producers, actors, etc., to adeptly handle all film-specific issues. FIRE’s by-laws dictate that the president must be a woman, at least 50% of our committee members should be women, and elections will be held every three years.”
Office bearers include Priyanka Upendra (President); Kavitha Lankesh (Vice-President); Chetan (Secretary); Harini (Joint Secretary) and Rekha Rani (Treasurer). Other members are Bharathi Vishnuvardhan, Hema Chaudhary, Sudha Rani, Samyukta Hornad, Niveditha, Bharathi, Veena Sunder, Pallavi, Jayna Kothari (legal expert on gender issues), Maruthi (legal advisor and producer), Sunder, Naina Puttaswamy, Purushottham, Ashwini Obulesh (legal support), and others.