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Through the glass ceiling

Hema shares her experiences as a woman in the film industry


I USED TO FEEL A LITTLE AWKWARD AS EVERYONE ON THE FILM SETS WAS A MAN HEMA MALINI

PHOTO: SANDEEP SAXENA

Dream girl Hema Malini

`Oh! Ye tum kya karta hai?' She pouts with a childlike innocence as a fan slips his diary in her hand for an autograph while she is closing her purse. "Isme se sab dekh liya," she continues complaining as the bewildered man gets his signed diary back. Listening to her is a pleasure too, as her speech is usually tinged with humour. "Otherwise it becomes drab, no?" she asks with a rehearsed curiosity in her big, beautiful eyes, now gathering creases underneath.

Achiever

Hema Malini, actress, director, producer, dancer and parliamentarian, was the chief guest at a FICCI Ladies Organisation event. Selected as one of India's leading women achievers, she talks about women beyond boundaries, breaking the glass ceiling.

"What glass ceiling?" she asks. I don't believe it even exists. It is in our minds. And if you still think it is there, either ignore it or break it. I did that. No men could do what I was able to in my films, so where is the glass ceiling?" she asks. But she believes it may be difficult for women to jostle with men to reach the top position.

Calling the shots

"I also faced that. I used to feel a little awkward as everyone on the sets except the hairdresser was a male. So I would take my mother along during my shoots. Enacting some emotional scenes or wearing funny clothes used to be quite embarrassing. But when I saw Aruna Raje, the only female director of her times, I was greatly influenced. I saw her handling even the toughies likes Vinod Khanna and Mohan Agashe. When I was making `Dil Aashna Hai,' I was an exception as a female director rather than the rule. I took inspiration from her and directed all the men in `Dil Aashna Hai," she laughs.

Women she says, are naturally soft. She may be known as a doting mother, but ask her about her daughters and she bounces back, "Why are you so worried about them? Although I am their mother, I am not worried. You want a role reversal?"

RANA SIDDIQUI

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