This Director's Determination has Carved Her Path in the Male-dominated Indian Cinema

Alankrita Shrivastava is the force behind the most talked about film of 2017, Lipstick Under My Burkha

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The force behind the most talked about film of 2017, Lipstick Under My Burkha, is a woman who has learnt to never give up. Despite the censor board prohibiting the release of her film that spoke about female desire in a patriarchal society, Shrivastava refused to bow down. The film got the go-ahead to be released in India only after it won multiple awards internationally.

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Her faith in her work and the cause of women is what distinguishes her as a filmmaker in an industry that is obsessed with slap-stick comedy and dynasty stars. “It’s really about how to work the system for films that don’t fit into the system,” says Shrivastava, who thinks it is a blessing to be able to tell a story the way one wants to tell it. Her challenges as a filmmaker have been with the kind of films she has made. “My films are not star-driven, are women’s stories told from a female point of view, and more independent –spirited; it’s hard to get such films out in the market. You are always at someone’s mercy to get them out,” says Shrivastava. She believes society functions in myriad ways to limit women’s ambitions and not give them equal access to opportunities.

“Even before a girl child is born, the discrimination begins. Female foetuses are under threat. Girls are not given equal access to nutrition or education. There is sexual harassment and abuse – on the streets and inside homes. Women are encouraged to always put the men in their lives before them. They are judged for expressing sexual freedom, and shamed even when they are the ones who suffer crimes like rape. They are taught that the goal of their life is to serve their husbands and family. In such a scenario, obviously we find that the glass ceiling in so many spheres is far from broken.”

Her tips to women include never giving up and learning to persevere. She believes every woman should continue to believe in herself and seek support from and support other women. “When we unite with other women, we can create a wave of change.”

(This article was first published in the March issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)