The India Pavilion at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival witnessed an invigorating session titled “She Shines,” dedicated to discussing the pivotal role of women in the media and entertainment space. Moderated by renowned actor-producer Khushboo Sundar, the session featured esteemed speakers including actor Esha Gupta, Greek-American director Daphne Schmon, and filmmakers Madhur Bhandarkar and Sudhir Mishra, known for their remarkable contributions to female-centric films.
Khushboo Sundar initiated the conversation by acknowledging the transformative phase Indian cinema is currently undergoing, where women are not only taking center stage as actors but also as producers, directors, and technicians. Madhur Bhandarkar shed light on the challenges faced in securing funds for women-oriented films, emphasizing that while budgets may not always be desirable, telling stories from a woman’s perspective adds a unique and essential dimension to cinema.
Reflecting on her personal experience, Esha Gupta shared her decade-long journey in the industry and how difficult it was to garner financial support for her film with a female protagonist. However, she highlighted the positive shift in audience demand as her film gained significant popularity on Netflix. Daphne Schmon emphasized the importance of representation and the need for more women directors and actors in prominent roles, highlighting that women make up 51 percent of the movie-going audience.
The speakers agreed that the success of films like Wonder Woman demonstrates that well-made movies with female leads can flourish at the box office. They also stressed the need for effective marketing and increased faith in women’s stories. Sudhir Mishra further emphasized the changing landscape of the industry, with a significant portion of the crew comprising women and audiences increasingly awaiting OTT releases.
Honorable Minister of State, Dr. L. Murugan, highlighted the government’s efforts to empower women in various fields, including cinema. He celebrated the accomplishments of women creators, technicians, and filmmakers, citing examples like the film “Magalir Mattum” and the national award-winning animation film by Aishwarya Sundar. Dr. Murugan also mentioned initiatives such as the NFDC’s training programs and the She Short Film Festival dedicated to women creators.
In conclusion, the “She Shines” session at the India Pavilion showcased the progress and potential of women in Indian cinema. The industry is witnessing a shift, with increasing representation, support, and recognition for women’s contributions. As women continue to shine, their stories and perspectives are being embraced and celebrated, fostering a more inclusive and empowering cinematic landscape.