I HAVE always been a fighter. I was living a comfortable life in Delhi, but wanted something more. Something outside my comfort zone. So like the thousands of people throwing caution to the winds, I came to Mumbai, and joined a film school. I had seen my father rue the fact that he never became a lawyer. I was damned if I was going to end up the same way.
I never thought about why there weren’t more female cinematographers. Aren’t there just fewer women everywhere? I wanted to be the architect of the illusion you see on screen. That car chase, the light in his eyes, the breeze in her hair, that single candle sputtering in the dark — my team and I make it real. I make decent money and work an unrelenting schedule. But it never once feels like work. I guess that’s how you know you have found something you love.
When I’m at work, I try my best to forget that I am a woman, because it can make you defensive in a way that is not healthy. For instance, in the early years, when seniors would give me gyaan, I’d assume it was because they were men and felt the need to offer “guidance”. A lot of cinematographers started out as lightsmen or gaffers, and were literally only carrying equipment for someone before they ever touched a camera. So I used to wonder if I was less than them, just because I hadn’t lugged heavy equipment around. Fortunately, I got over this insanity soon. I was carrying someone’s kid one day and I thought, “Hey, women carry heavy loads all the time!” I don’t have anything to prove!