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My 9 Takeaways From A Chat With Alankrita Shrivastava, Writer Director Of Dolly Kitty & Lipstick…

Posted: September 12, 2020

“It’s not easy but it’s doable” would resonate with most women, because that is what they do – go ahead and do what they need to, against odds. A chat with writer director Alankrita Shrivastava.

“It’s not easy but it’s doable” – This was the topic of my conversation with writer director Alankrita Shrivastava at WICA – Women at Corporate Allies, by Women’s Web.

It is never easy when you are fighting against the odds. It is never easy when overcoming internal and external barriers, conflicts and challenges is a quotidian aspect of your life. Yet, we ‘do’ whatever it is we set out to do, because we got to do what we got to do.

This was the subject of my session with noted director and screenwriter, Alankrita Shrivastava, at the recently held Women at Corporate Allies 2020 virtual event which was thoughtfully curated by Women’s Web.

Chatting with Alankrita Shrivastava

It was a pleasure to have a one-to-one chat with a humble, inspiring, fierce and forthright woman who has carved a niche for herself by her sheer talent and grit.

In spite of not having anything to do with the film industry, at some level, I could relate to her experiences. As I absorbed it all, I realised that there were nuggets of wisdom interspersed in her journey which most of us could benefit from. Here are some of my key takeaways from the enriching, candid conversation with her.

Should creativity be bound by social responsibility?

On the never-ending debate of creative freedom versus social responsibility when it comes to art, she made a fabulous point about how it ultimately boils down to what we are in essence.

When we view and perceive the world with a feminist lens, it reflects in our storytelling inevitably and then we don’t need to make a deliberate effort to make a statement through our art. The more we are aware and sensitive, the more responsible we become as artists. However, it is also important to be conscious of how we portray a character or an idea, which means that before we put our art out there for the world, we must be doing our due diligence.

The resistance to ‘lady oriented’ films

Lipstick Under My Burkha was under the scanner and the release had been stalled. Eventually, censor board gave it a go after some cuts.

Alankrita Shrivastava shared how it was a difficult phase undoubtedly, but she was determined to make sure she sees through it and gets her movie the release that she had dreamt of.

She strongly feels that women have an equal right to express themselves and this belief gave her the courage to stay put even when there was a strong opposition. Fortitude and resilience are the best weapons to brave our battles.

When the going gets tough, look within

There is one thing she said that will stay with me for life. When the going gets tough, look within.

Why do you want what you want? Where do you want to go? Who are you as a person? What matters to you the most? Most of the times, the answers are inside us.

Self-reflection and awareness can help us have a long-term vision and broaden our outlook to a larger picture. The immediate battles lost would then just feel like a part of the journey. Believe in yourself because at the end, you will definitely emerge a winner.

All doors are never closed

Do not focus all your energies on the closed doors and windows. When there is obstruction or disapproval from some, there will also be others who will always egg you on with unflinching support.

Recognize your support system and derive strength from the allies and the positives. There would definitely be something going for you even in the most unfavourable circumstances.

Are mindsets actually changing?

I was curious to know whether all the conversations about having an equal playing field have actually trickled down to the grassroots level. Are mindsets actually changing?

She was honest and stated upfront that we have a long way to go when it comes to seeing visible changes on the ground and I believe it is important for women to acknowledge this. We need to accept that this is going to be a long-drawn crusade and that we have to pull our socks up for it whether we like it or not.

Nothing that hard work cannot solve

There is nothing above hard-work and consistency to find success at work. Things may not go as planned. But your goals are attainable if you give your best shot at every step of the way.

If you are bogged down and feel like quitting, take a step back and rest but do not give up. Remind yourself of why you set out to do this in the first place. Find inspiration from your own journey. If you could do it before, you can do it again.

Network; build the circle of sisterhood

Do not underestimate the power of the right circle or network. This holds true all the more for women because the circle of sisterhood can really keep us going.

Surround yourself with those who understand your creativity and thought process. This circle will help you stay sane and motivated, and you can also learn from each other. Co-learn, co-grow and collaborate.

50% of the stories told need to come from women

More diverse and inclusive voices need to come to forefront to be at the helm of things.

In the context of the film industry, she talked about how having more women producers or directors can bring in nuanced and layered characters and storytelling in the movies because of the lived experiences. On similar lines, she gave the example of why it is important for a Dalit to tell us the story of a Dalit for the purpose of authenticity.

I think this applies to every workplace and industry. We need to pass on the mic and sit and listen.

When life gives you lemons

Make lemonade

Dodge them and protect yourself

Slice them and sprinkle on your food

Throw them back at where they came from

Whatever it takes, just do what it takes to do you! Because it is definitely doable.

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Multiple award winning blogger, influencer, author, multi-faceted entrepreneur, creative writing mentor, choreographer, social activist

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