Ahana Kumra: “The Sexism In The Industry Is Rampant”

Like any  other talented  actress from outside Bollywood , Aahana Kumra has gone through her share  of mortifying  experiences with the  predators  of showbiz.

But those experiences have left her  untarnished.

Says Ahana, “Believe me, the experiences an outsider has to go through , and I am talking about both male and female newcomers, is very  discouraging. It can kill your  spirit. These are people away from home  , vulnerable and  confused. Like  any  newcomer I’d  try to meet as many producers-directors as possible. I had no filter to determine their quality as artistes or human beings.I was  in the wrong company,looking for work in  places where I shouldn’t have been.”

It was  during one such ghastly encounter that Ahana was subjected to very strange conversation. “I met (director) Sajid Khan at his home. I went in the morning  which was in my mind a safe time. He met me  cordially over chai and very coolly told me  I’d never make it in  mainstream  Hindi cinema, which was  fine.He was entitled  to his opinion.  But then he made some really strange comments about whether I’d have sex with a  canine for a hefty amount of money.Would he  have  askedJahanvi Kapoor or Sara Ali Khan the same  question? No! The truth  is , only struggling actors and actresses  from outside the  film industry face this  kind of  harassment.”

Sadly the aspiring male actors prefer to keep mum.

As Aahana explains , “They are too embarrassed  to speak up about their predicament, Even women actors like us have gathered courage  now to speak  up. Otherwise sexism  and misogyny  are accepted behaviour among the  men of the film industry. Many men  don’t know any better.They should’ve been slapped  by their parents when they showed  signs  of misogyny  in  their early  years. We would have been spared this distressing  situation.When  young actors and actresses  from small towns have to go through this behaviour it does terrible things to their  morale.They can’t even tell their parents back home about it as it would freak them  out.”

 Luckily for  Aahana, the tides  have turned after  Lipstick Under The Burqa,  the  game-changing feminist  film that  brought her commercial and  critical success. “I am eternally  grateful to (director) Alankrita Shrivastava  and my fabulous co-starsRatna Pathak M’aam and Konkona Sen Sharma M’aam for opening new  doors in my career and my  life.”

Aahna will now be seen as  Priyanka Gandhi in the Manmohan Singh bio-pic The Accidental  Prime  Minister. “I do feel I’ve more than a  passing resemblance to Priyanka Gandhi. We are looking forward to how the  film version  of  Mr Singh’s story is  received by the audience.”

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