I am Aditi Sharma, I am a cinematographer! Cinematography has been a male bastion in the past, that’s true. However, currently there are many women across India who are active cinematographers. When I started out, I faced a difficult time finding work opportunities because people were not sure if I’d be able to overcome the physical challenges of the job and still be able to provide the necessary creative inputs. But if one persists and works hard enough, results are bound to show.
Over the next few years, I took on every kind of project, worked with a diverse set of people and didn’t restrict myself to any one genre of film-making; whether it required me to walk around with the camera the whole day or shoot for 18 hours every day. When people realized I bring value to their project despite any physical challenges that it might throw, they started working with me on a regular basis. And the glass ceiling was broken.
The most important women in my life have been my mother and my sister. They are the most sincere and the hardest working women that I have known. Despite the many challenges they have faced in their personal and professional life, they have always held their head high and overcome everything with a smile on their faces. Honest, grounded and polite; they have been my strength on my toughest days.
My most life altering experience has been my education at FTII. I went into the institute as a complete novice at life and then completely transformed into a more thoughtful and aware person. I realized my true potential both as a film-maker and as a person during the course of my study.
Life is an interesting mix of both happiness and darkness. Most of my happy days have been the times I’ve spent with my family and friends. Whether it is road trips, house parties, dinner outings or just spending time with kids at home; over time I’ve found so much joy in spending time with people I love that I’d be willing to give away any project to be able to make time for them. So prioritizing people over work has been the takeaway from this.
One of the darkest days of my life was most definitely the day I lost my mentor Bobby. He was my boss and I started my career with him. His sudden death shook me up and I felt a range of emotions that I did not know how to deal with. It took me a long time to recover but even today, on the days that I miss him, I become sad and gloomy. This one incident that made me introspect and realize how fickle life is and how important it is for us to let things go because nothing is permanent.
The idea of “today’s India” is very conflicted. Everyone seems to have a different perspective on this. I personally feel today’s India is regressive and repressive. Be it, women or men, there is hardly any space here for artists and thinkers to express freely. Being a woman in such environment only makes it worse since they are the most vulnerable of the lot.
I feel scared in “today’s India” to take a stand on anything after I read about women activists being intimidated, women social workers being targeted, women-centric films being banned and entire states erupting in protests against reservation for women!