Interview The casting couch in the movie is my own experience; Shruti Saranyam
‘The breast is a vessel for symbolism and fantasy. It certainly has cultural, social and political significance. Many stories were combined into a single story to investigate it. Dismissals based on breast size, disapproving looks and touches have all led to the formation of ‘B32 to 44′. This film is a combination of many experiences,’ says director Shruti Saranyam.
Interview: Shruti Saranyam (Director, B 32 to 44) / Amrita T. Suresh
Amrita T. Suresh: B32 to 44 has been much talked about on social media since its release. Was this response expected? Or exceeded expectations?
Shruti Saranyam: The responses are beyond expectations. Many men are also commenting. There are many types of writing. I didn’t think people would write like this. It was expected that the film has a certain audience. But it went beyond those expectations. People go to the theater after seeing the reviews. very happy
Amrita T. Suresh: Most of the women’s writings about the film were seen. Apart from appreciations and interpretations, many events and characters in the film have been written by her in relation to her own life. How do you look at it?
Shruti Saranyam: I had a feeling that I could connect like that. I am in all the characters. The film will connect with all women in one way or another.
Amrita T. Suresh: Talking about female body politics, especially breasts, and making the decision to make a film is a brave thing to do. At what point is such a decision reached?
Shruti Saranyam: The breast is an organ of symbolism and fantasy. It certainly has cultural, social and political significance. Many stories were combined into a single story to investigate it. Many interpreted it as an anthology. This is a single narrative.
Such a concept comes to mind in 2018. Since then, I thought that I should speak openly about women’s body politics and breasts. B 32 to 44 did not occur outside of a particular situation.
What I experienced and continue to experience
It is stated in B 32 to 44.
Iman’s character says ‘I don’t know my size’. That’s a problem I run into all the time. Rejections based on breast size, disapproving looks and touching all lead to the making of this film. This picture is a combination of many experiences.
Amrita T. Suresh: The problem of not getting sex education is mentioned in many parts of the film. The film begins with a real-life reference. At that time, many people justified the incident by saying that the guy was not asking for consent. Even when Vinayakan gave an example of asking the journalist who came to the press meet if he was interested in sex, some people justified it by saying that he was not asking for consent? How do people misunderstand consent?
Shruti Saranyam: Consent cannot thus be precisely defined. Consent is a much misunderstood thing. There are some general etiquettes before asking for consent. See if the person on the other side is in the same mood and get any positive reaction from them. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure this out. Anyone can understand if they use common sense.
Going over the edge and asking a woman can I have sex with you and asking if I can hold her is not consent.
It is a kind of violation. It matters who and when you ask. Consent has been misinterpreted. Many questions are often asked to women knowing that they are not interested.
Amrita T. Suresh: The film talks about the casting couch. Many women are now opening up about their casting couch experiences. But you can see comments on social media saying that name the harassed person, otherwise the allegation is false. As a person in the film industry, what do you think are the obstacles for someone who has faced the casting couch to open up about it? To what extent does society and cinema have to change to be brave enough to be open about it?
Shruti Saranyam: The other day I heard actress Malvika Srinath speaking openly about her casting couch experience. Then I remembered that the same is said in my film. The film shows my experience 14 years ago. It’s just that I’m not someone who wanted to be an actor. Something someone did to me when I wanted to be an assistant director.
I couldn’t react then like the character Rachel did in the movie. I was in shock. Could not respond due to fear and trembling. I didn’t even understand what was happening. Somehow he managed to escape from there. I have cried a lot because of it. I still remember the shock of that day. I have not been able to forget even after all these years. It has not been overcome even today. Even after 14 years, nothing has changed here. It is a matter of great distress.
Naming has consequences. When the name was mentioned, the matter became public. Defamation cases may arise as a part of it. It is because of these things that the girls do not say their names. There is often no evidence for this. It cannot be held in a public place. The girl’s statement is the only evidence. Beyond that is circumstantial evidence. In such a situation, the defendant can file a defamation case, say you insulted me, torture and destroy any future prospects they may have.
Here comes the issue of power position. When I had such an experience 14 years ago, I could not react immediately. Perhaps my reaction would have been different if this experience had come from someone in a lower position of power. Being the person above me in a position of power, I was afraid at that time.
It is because of this problem that girls often do not disclose their names. There should be space for openness. It is their choice whether to name or not.
It’s unfair to say you don’t have such an experience just because you didn’t name it.
When an incident like this happens, I am a person who thinks that I should stand by that girl without thinking about anything else. Our primary conviction is to stand with the victim. There may also be cases where the other side occurs.
The incident at the police station shown in the movie happened to me in a different context. A person behaved rudely to me in a public space. Then he was beaten. After that it is known that he is a police officer. He was drunk. I filed a complaint that day. The experiences at the station are also shown in the film.
Amrita T. Suresh: The casting couch in the film is done by a person who describes himself as a feminist director. Some discussions saw this scene as reinforcing the public perception that the so-called feminists are the real thieves. Why bring in a female director?
Shruti Saranyam: That character was placed like that and I am there. Can’t generalize. Not all directors who make women’s films are bad. But I have heard the experiences of girls who had to work with two or three directors who made strong feminist films. I am not saying that all directors who make feminist films are bad.
Amrita T. Suresh: One factor that brought the film to people’s attention was its press meet. The press meet went to a big controversy. These same people laugh and ask questions at the press meet of movies where Male stars are the hero. Although there are controversies related to them, such questions are avoided. Even if asked, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be an argument. Isn’t this a double tap?
Shruti Saranyam: There is no doubt about it. He spoke without any human consideration.
It is thought that if women come, they will be attacked. If a big artist like Mammootty had come, would they talk like this?
This courage also comes from being women. It was an event with an agenda. I even felt that he was paid to do it. It is a film produced by the government. Will there be people who have a problem with this movie? Very few people come to see the movie after hearing about it. Why such a campaign to destroy such films at such a time? Hate campaigns are going on. There are people who have worked very hard for it. I don’t know why.
It was an incident that caused controversy among the journalists who came there. Conscious people spoke against it at that time. None of them have studied journalism. Digital media has become accessible to anyone. Same is the case with movies. Anyone can reach it. I don’t have time to teach them a lesson.
How to respond to the group that says my mother is female, my wife is female, and my mole is female. Today I am not saying that my father is a man, my husband is a man, my lover is a man. It is said that it is the duty to protect women. There is a problem with the idea that women are the ones to be protected. I didn’t take them seriously. The difficulty is when taken seriously. For them, they got what they wanted. Should build some viewership. So we have only benefited. Nala knew about the movie.
content highlight ; Casting Couch in Film My Own Experience, Interview with B32 to 44 Director Shruti Saranyam
Amrita T. Suresh
DoolNews Sub Editor. Graduated in English Literature and PG in Journalism.