Says Mollywood star Lena, as she reflects on what it is to be a woman these days
By Shevlin Sebastian
In late 2014, Lena was on the sets of the Tamil film, 'Anegan', at Chennai. She was playing a psychiatrist by the name of Dr. Radhika. The villains are looking for the heroine, Madhumita, who is supposed to come to Radhika's clinic. However, there is a fight between the hero, Dhanush, and some villains.
“There is one scene where I was supposed to be pushed back by one of the goons,” says Lena. “The glass door of the clinic was supposed to remain open. And I had to move out of the scene. But the door closed accidentally. When I was pushed back against the door, the entire structure came crashing down. And the fighter fell on top of me.”
But the crew reacted with speed. “Within moments, they had lifted me and put me back on my feet, led by the fighter,” says Lena. “I was immediately rushed to the hospital. There was a small cut under my arm. A doctor put a stitch on it. I was ready to carry on shooting, but the director said it was pack-up time.”
Women have always been treated well in the film industries of the South. “I have been in Mollywood since 1998,” says Lena. “The men have always been considerate towards us. If I want to change costumes, and there are no facilities, they will go out of their way to find a suitable place. It is a family-like atmosphere. But in the Telugu and Tamil industries, we are treated like goddesses. So, on Women's Day, there is nothing to celebrate. I am already free and following my dreams.”
Her family members have been the inspiration. “My grandmother married the man she loved,” says Lena. “My mother left home [in Kochi] and went and worked in Chennai. She also married the man she loved and lived the life she wanted. In my family, the women have enjoyed a lot of freedom. Increasingly, this is happening all over the world.”
However, Lena does admit that in rural and backward areas, many women lack freedom, and are forced stop their education or get married against their wishes.
But the pendulum is moving towards women. “Since the end of the Mayan calendar [used by countries in Central America] in December, 2012, it has predicted a shift of power from the male to the female,” says Lena. “Feminine authority will increase. And there will be more women in positions of leadership worldwide. Women will enjoy their lives more. But, don't worry, guys will also like it when women enjoy life.”
Asked about the one drawback that women continue to have, Lena says simply, “Physical strength. For example, when I am alone, on a deserted road, at 7 p.m., I would experience fear because I don't have the physical strength to hold off a man. You also need strength to do simple things like carrying a suitcase to the third floor. Instead, I take a man's help. If God had given women physical strength, she would have become invincible. Maybe, that is why He did not give that attribute to her.”
When told that women have other negatives like mood changes and crankiness, a smiling Lena says, “Trust me, I know of many men who are equally cranky and short-tempered. So why blame women for that?”
(Women's Supplement, The New Indian Express, Kerala)