Women On Top
Neha Parti Matiyani: “The Problem Is Of Being Considered Only For Lesser Opportunities”
We don’t need just one day to celebrate women. Here at Hauterfly, we celebrate the smarter sex EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Nonetheless, we join in the party today, on March 8, International Women’s Day, to applaud some seriously badass women we know and love. These #WomenOnTop have conquered multiple worlds with ease — from corporate and social to entertainment and education. These personal essays give a glimpse into the journey of women who may not have always had it easy, but made it anyway, and shattered multiple glass ceilings along the way.
Juggling the role of cinematographer in films like Badrinath Ki Dulhania and Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, mother to a toddler, and founder of an initiative to encourage and support other female cinematographers, Neha Parti Matiyani sure has her plate full. But does this stop her from further topping up her plate with bigger, better things? Nossirree. Conquering Bollywood, being an advocate for the women in her field, and raising her daughter all come naturally to do creative firebrand.
Life In Motion
It all started with still photography, many years ago. I loved capturing images the way I saw them. During my graduation, I discovered my love for the moving image. So I followed up my graduation with a course in cinematography from FTII, Pune. FTII opened up a world of cinema and imagery I did not know existed.
A few months after finishing my course, I started working with Ravi K. Chandran (renowned Indian director of photography who has worked in Hindi, Tamil, and Malayalam films, his most recent outing being OK Jaanu), who honed my skills and introduced me to real world filmmaking.
Since then, there’s been no looking back. I love what I do. I’ve been lucky that I’ve largely only worked with people who appreciate the value I bring to the table. In the case of Badrinath ki Dulhania and all other films that I have been a part of, I’ve always been lucky to have a team that believes in me and makes filmmaking a great experience.
Conquering The Roadblocks
The problems for women that are prevalent, though, are twofold — one is of being sidelined, the other is of being considered only for lesser opportunities. By that I mean, where the scope of work, for the lack of a better word, is not ambitious. I’ve never been sidelined per se, but I’d love to get bigger, better opportunities.
In the past, I have said no to some projects because I thought they were undervaluing what I brought to the table as a collaborator. However, this was only a problem when I was starting out, and with every passing project, I feel it’s receding further into the background.
At the end of the day, it’s about delivering on the job, and once you do that, there are no more questions left to answer. I have always felt that the best answer to any and all of these gender-related questions is to let your work do the talking.
Cracking Life’s Box Office
It’s important to stay updated and relevant at all times. Being a cinematographer is a combination of art and skill/technique. I think art and perspective come from your interests and life experiences. Technique is something that one needs to keep up with, at all times, with ever-evolving technology.
So I’d say, expanding your knowledge of technology and keeping your mind open to the world around is what help anyone, men and women alike, to be at the top of their game.
Mentorship has also played a large part in bringing me to where I am today. Sometimes, the mentor helps you grow your skills, sometimes s/he just helps you get to the right place, and sometimes both. Ravi K. Chandran was my mentor and I’ll forever be grateful to him for being a great teacher.
While we’re talking of mentorship, I’d like to bring to light an initiative started by Women Cinematographers, called the Indian Women Cinematographers’ Collective (IWCC). IWCC aims to showcase, inspire, encourage, celebrate, and mentor upcoming women cinematographers, and support each other’s work and vision.
I’m not sure whether or not I’ve mentored, but I always have a team that works with me and, at every step of the way, I try to guide them, give them freedom to explore, and grow their wings. Some of them have now moved on to start independent work, and I’m really proud of them.
Love & Life
Personally, I have the complete support of my partner in crime, my husband. We also have a little baby girl, and we make sure that, between the two of us, she’s never left alone for long hours. With a toddler at home, winding down is singing nursery rhymes and dancing to just about any music that gets her going.
At the end of the day, her happy face is all I need to unwind. Having a supportive family helps you dream big and pursue those dreams. I read this somewhere and I believe in it – “when at work, forget home, and at home, forget work”.
Always remember, it may be difficult at the beginning, but perseverance and hard work ensures that you become rockstar at what you do, and then gender becomes immaterial.
It’s a quote I read somewhere, “There are more articles written about women in films and television than the real number of women in films and TV.” I say “Lets change that.”