This film changes your perspective on rape, honour and assault survivors.
Dr Lakshmi Devy is an Indian American film maker acclaimed for her work in Tamil and South Indian movies. She has her own film production company FiDi talkies in the United States. After her early education in New York and India, she has travelled extensively to imbibe the cultural matrix of America & her ancestral homeland of India.
On the eve of her new acclaimed movie, she is being interviewed by Rahul Easwar, Philosophy Author & Public Policy Expert. Mr Easwar has been featured in BBC, CNN, The New York Times and has been a part of 3 Guinness World Records.
1) Dr Lakshmi Devy, you are a Doctor and Director, How much did your educational background help you in creating realistic films?
Honestly it genuinely makes a difference. The environment that I was surrounded by was so real and raw that it allowed me to tap into the nuances of human emotions when I write characters. It influences my story plots too. One of the best places to witness human stories and waves of emotions and complexities are in a hospital.
2) “Rape Kills the Honor of a Man not a Woman” is a rebellious idea that you have taken up in your film – “When the Music changes”. Could you elaborate on it?
Well, we all see what is happening around us. It’s bad enough that we have to deal with sexual innuendos and molestation and assault from a young age. It’s bad enough that we have to live in the constant fear of being raped by known or unknown men. It’s bad enough that rape victims have to endure physical and mental torture. But to add on to all of this, is the shame that society thrusts upon us women. A man violates a woman and it’s her who is chastised. She has to live with the shame. We still have a huge proportion of people in India who believe that a woman’s honor is up for the taking.
I ventured into it because it was the need of the hour. We read about a new rape case almost every couple of days. The cases will range from victims of the age of 1 month to over 65yrs. If this is the case when are we actually safe? The fact that our patriarchal society believes that they can snatch a woman’s honor and pride away by sexual intimidation and assault is appalling. This has to change and it has to change now. The audience is mostly shaken after watching film. I do find that they empathize with the situations presented. I am hoping that the empathy becomes a catalyst for a change in our society’s attitude towards women. I have two baby nieces. I refuse to sit back and let them grow in the toxic environment we have today. I have to be able to tell them that I fought for them. I consider this my dharma.
3) How did you venture out into this so called Man’s World of Movie direction and creation ?
Honestly it was a natural progression. I started off as an actress. Then became a screenwriter and then a director. I enjoy all these 3 aspects and will continue to make films where I don all 3 hats at the same time. That being said I also look forward to acting and being a part of other filmmakers projects across the world. I am concentrating on building up a good meaningful body of work and associating with exceptionally talented filmmakers and technicians across the globe.
4) What were the obstacles you faced and what are pros & cons of being a Questioning Woman in the industry ?
It’s actually the simple stuff. I’ve often felt that it’s a big boys club and you do not have permission to enter. Things now are slowly changing. But back in the day even the small things were a big deal. If you’re in a meeting they either completely ignore you or patronize you. Especially cause I am an actress many a time there are people who do not believe that I should have an opinion on any other account apart from acting. There are others who down right just hate you cause you question the scenario. It has been challenging but very educational. I must admit I see a change happening now. It’s slow but apparent. This leaves me optimistic about the future .
5) There are rave reviews of your film “When the Music Changes”, Do you expect to win awards for it? How was your family’s reaction when you decided to pursue filmmaking?
It did cause some turbulence in the beginning when I switched from medicine to films. But now , my family is my greatest support. My father, Mr. Madhu Nair is an acclaimed author and my mother Dr. Saroja Nair is a reputed Nephrologist in Kerala. It is the values and dedication and discipline that was instilled in me as a child by my parents that have kept my ambitions going strong no matter how tough the path. My sister Dr.Gayatri Devi and my Brother in law Dr.Sajin Pillai are my biggest supporters. They are all very proud of me and get excited with every small achievement of mine.
I do expect awards for this. The film was a culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication from a superb team. While I directed, wrote and produced the film I couldn’t of made such a wonderful project without the exceptionally talented people around me. The other main cast in the film was played by Adith Arun, Naveen George Thomas, Shreya Navile and Vignesh Shivasubramanium. Our cinematography was helmed by Abinandan Ramanujam who is quite well known in the South Indian film industry having done films like Amen and Mosayille Kuthira Meenukal. The film’s editing was by Anthony Gonsalvez. He has edited films like Ghajini, Sivaji, Vinnaithandi Varuvaya etc. The film was shot in sync sound. The sound designing was by Sandeep Kumar Singh. The film’s music was composed by Achu Rajamani of Golisoda 2 and Current Theega fame. The film is in the international film festival circuit as of now. We are all very optimistic and grateful for the reviews it has been receiving.
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