Women On Top
Megha Ramaswamy: “Women Need The Same Skills As Men To Be At The Top Of Their Game”
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.
Producer, director, screenwriter, entrepreneur — that’s a lot of hats to wear for one person. But for Megha Ramaswamy, there is no such thing as a limit. Apart from co-hosting CauseEffect, a platform producing content related to social causes, Megha’s short films, Newborns (inside look into the lives of acid attack survivors) and Bunny premiered at TIFF and gained wide recognition. Where does she get her inspiration from, you ask? By staring at her plants, of course.
As a child, I was sure that I wanted be a writer — a poet, perhaps a novelist. I was introduced to screenwriting in the early 2000s and started observing the writing elements in film, after which I naturally gravitated towards the form in a more focused manner.
I then came to Bombay and realised that I can’t be an AD or a groupie (I’d blame lack of commitment and patience), and so decided to pursue art and writing, which ultimately led to me making films.
I think the past 4 years have been exciting for me as a filmmaker, working on concepts and spaces that I completely connect with. It was important that my first 2 films opened at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) consecutively, and went on to do tremendously well in festivals and sales circuits.
Don’t Look Back In Anger
But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. I remember, as a 25-year-old, I had just been awarded an international grant and I went squeaking to the director I was working with at the time –“YAY! Good news!” His response? He pointed to my stomach and asked if I was going to be a mother. It was violating and amusing at the same time.
There were many more such incidents, but I refuse to play the martyr card about it. I think I’m done looking back with anger and would like to focus on my achievements and the joy of telling stories.
I think in the long run, I’ve been more impacted by the trials, tribulations, and the personal histories of women the world over. I honestly distanced myself from this industry clutter a long time ago. I’ve set up my own workforce and that’s more than enough for me.
Aim & Conquer
Everyone talks about shattering the glass ceiling, but honestly, for me, the glass ceiling is not as much of a personal experience as it is to with the glaring truth of inequality and representation. The very fact that, as women filmmakers, we produce and do very little work in films, as opposed to our male counterparts, is in itself a wake-up call for most of us.
We should aim to conquer and shatter glass ceilings every day. I still make big (COLOSSAL) mistakes every day. But I learn to acknowledge them and come clean and myself.
We must believe and accept that women need the same skills that men do to be at the top of their game. I’d say commitment and an in-depth understanding of empathy and integrity are vital characteristics to possess.
Looking Up & Beyond
Looking back, I think many people have mentored me through their work, and both Mira Nair and Sooni Taraporewala have played an important role in this process — just by the sheer outcome of the work they produced as women writers and filmmakers.
At work, I’m surrounded by ambitious young people, and that in itself is empowering — our team at CauseEffect is full of young beans. Most of my kids, who started off as interns with us, now have big jobs, and buy me lunch and fridge magnets.
Personally, I think I’ve reached a point where most of my personal life thrives on the coherence of my professional life. The most important decision I made for myself was to invest modestly in a studio space, which doesn’t have the distracting triggers of a domestic space. But I enjoy the space because it’s where I wind down by staring at my plants in wonder — it’s more therapeutic than it sounds.
Signing off I’ll say one thing — hurry up; time is swift in its passage. I see it coming. If you look closely, so will you. All the change we are and will be.