Guess what’s common between Kerala’s masons and Bollywood’s make up artistes?
She’s talented, she’s well qualified (studied in the US, no less), she’s passionate about make-up, and she likes nothing better than a challenging film assignment. But when she tried to find work as a makeup designer in the shadowy world of cinema, she was repeatedly turned away.
The reason : she’s female.
No this is not Saudi Arabia, nor is this India a century ago. This is Bollywood, the world’s largest film industry, in the 21st century. And it is yet another reminder of how the Hindi film industry is simply unable to handle intelligent women.
When Charu Khurana, a professional make-up artist who returned from the US in 2008 after successfully completing a post graduate degree in cinema makeup, was searching for work in Bollywood, she was informed by the Cine Costume Make-up Artistes and Hair Dressers Association (CCMAA) that:
Since the formation of the Association, no make-up artiste card has been issued to female members till date. This is done to ensure that male members are not deprived of work as make-up artistes. If female artistes are given make-up artistes’ cards, then it will become impossible for male members to get work and they will lose their sources of livelihood and will be deprived of their earnings to support themselves and their families, because no one will be interested [in engaging] the services of a male make-up artiste if a female make-up artiste is available, looking to the human tendency.
Membership to the CCMAA is the only way to officially work as a make-up expert in Bollywood (the Association also tries to control television and music videos). Many of its 2,000 odd members – all male – haven’t completed college or undergone a formal training in make up. But instead of welcoming trained artists to inject vitality amongst its ranks, it chooses to remain in the Dark Ages.
The worst part is that everyone in Bollywood knows about this, but there has been nary a squeak from the industry’s “intelligentsia” about the rampant discrimination. Fortunately, Khurana refused to stay content with sneaking into stars’ make-up vans to pretty them on the sly, as her women colleagues have been doing for years. She took the matter to court, and it has finally reached the Supreme Court, who rightly declared that
We are in 2014, not in 1935. Such things cannot continue even for a day
(The Supreme Court is yet to pass a final judgement on the matter)
Despite the film fraternity publicly applauding the Court’s statement (how convenient), Khurana is quick to remind us:
The committee was vindictive after I dragged them to court. They would flex their muscles and make sure I didn’t get films — between 2012 and 2013, I lost out on projects in the south, incuding the Telugu period film Rudrama Devi, Who can assure me the same will not happen after the Supreme Court passes the order on Monday?
It’s just another day – and another battle – for working women.
Meanwhile, after decades of role and wage discrimination, skilled women have stormed the world of masonry in Kerala, ensuring equitable jobs and remuneration. Read the full story here.