Haseen Dillruba writer Kanika Dhillon: ‘Important to project women as role models in popular culture’

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Screenwriter Kanika Dhillon says there is still a long way to go for women to find authentic representation in popular culture but the change must happen to inspire other women.

Dhillon, the writer behind some of the acclaimed women-led films in recent times such as Manmarziyaan, Judgemental Hai Kya and Haseen Dillruba, said for a story to trigger an on-ground change, female protagonists should be given the centre stage.

“We have to come a long way in terms of correct representation of women. In pop culture, it is extremely important to project women as role models and let these inspiring stories of women reach other women.

“Because they’ll at least be able to see what can be achieved. We live in a patriarchal, unequal society. We need to give them hope that we can imagine a better world and it is within us to create that,” Dhillon told reporters.

The writer was speaking at the launch of the book “Changemakers” written by authors Almas Virani and Sweta Samota.

Dhillon said women are “absolutely and completely” outnumbered in terms of having any representation in pop culture.

The writer believes women are neither represented as heroes nor do they have a story that is “complete for us”.

“We are basically relegated to the periphery as an appendage to the man. Unfortunately, even in this day and age, the fact that I write my heroines as human beings is considered a superhuman effort.”

Actor Taapsee Pannu has written the foreword for the book, which is a collection of stories of 11 women changemakers from the “She Creates Change Program” from Change.org.

Actor filmmaker Nandita Das, who was also present at the event, said men need to become allies to fight the inequality against women.

“It’s not that only women have to speak about it or gather together. We need strong allies, strong men who feel comfortable enough to be allies… The ‘them vs us’ that we have created even in gender because it has been so skewed for so long.

“But it is an opportunity for men to rise to this occasion and see it as an issue of the society and not just leave it to women to carry the flag, be the victim and help each other. We are doing what we can. But we also need the full support of all the men,” Das added.

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