We Need More Stories About Women In Mainstream Media: Tahira Kashyap

Author and director, Tahira Kashyap Khurrana talks about inclusive storytelling and how it can change society’s worldview.

Sayoni Bhaduri

Straightforward and erudite are two adjectives that describe Tahira Kashyap Khurrana. The mother of two and celeb wife is constantly pushing the envelope of creativity by taking a stance on social issues. She uses humour as a tool to express her thoughts, which peeks through every time she shares a post on her social media.  Her book, published in 2020, The 12 Commandments of Being a Woman, also uses humour whether it is about raging hormones of a young adult or severe insecurities because of her husband’s success.

And it is this evolution of personality—a simple girl from Chandigarh, who survived cancer and today is at the helm of a cultural movement driven by passionate stories and storytellers, for and by women—that give us goals. 

Rules are meant to be broken

She has set up a cinema collective—Indian Women Rising (IWR)—in association with two other strong women in the entertainment industry, Guneet Monga and Ekta Kapoor. The collective aims to discover, nurture, and bring the spotlight on Indian female talent in cinema across the world. The sole purpose of IWR is to disrupt the status quo and amplify the voice of Indian female filmmakers. Rules need to be broken to forge ahead. “If anyone tells you that you are lesser, that you should be okay with getting less or justifies disparity, you have to debunk it, says Tahira. This does not have to be about women or men. “As a human, if you find yourself subjugated or dealt a bad hand, you must stand up for yourself," she believes.

Women in spotlight

Women-centric narratives drive Tahira as a storyteller. “There aren’t enough stories being told about women. When there are such limited stories about them, you get into this replication mode and it sort of becomes a stereotype,” explains Tahira. Apart from her book, during the lockdown, she started an Instagram series, The Lockdown Tales, which were a series of short stories inspired by daily lockdown life, and recently, her short film, Pinni (starring inimitable Neena Gupta) has won hearts and accolades alike. Women make up for half of the human population and “the underrepresentation of women bothers me.” At the same time, Tahira is conscious of not falling into the ‘holier than thou’ trap. 

Equality is the endgame

At the end of the day, it all simmers down to parity and equality. IWR’s film Bittu is a case in point—the Oscar-nominated film is about a friendship between two little girls, at risk due to a poisoning accident. Tahira’s Pinni, part of anthology film Zindagi inShort, is also a tale of a woman trying to find equality in her everyday life. “These are subjects that really need to be discussed, and not just discussed, implemented! It is time to move away from our patriarchal setup,” Tahira remarks. “It is humanity that needs to be the endgame winner.” She feels this will only take place when there is compassion, and it is not something that only women can stake claim to. 

Photo: Instagram/Tahira Kashyap
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