I cannot say I am not a Feminist. I am a Humanist: Sayani Gupta

I cannot say I am not a Feminist. I am a Humanist: Sayani Gupta

Happy-go-lucky, frank and progressive are the adjectives we’d use to describe actress par excellence, Sayani Gupta. The Bengali girl from Kolkata was a sure shot scene stealer in Margarita With A StrawFan and Baar Baar Dekho. She has garnered critical acclaim and massive commercial success with Article 15Fan and OTT giant Amazon Prime series Four More Shots Please! Being an FTII graduate, she is a known face in the world of theater as well.

Let’s have a look at what makes Sayani the Actor we love and admire.

Would you consider or call yourself a feminist?

I cannot say I am not a feminist. But I have problems with how the term has been misused and reduced to.

I am a humanist. I believe every individual should be treated alike and must have the freedom to exercise rights irrespective of gender, religion, faith, class, caste! But yes, the struggles to counter the deep rooted patriarchy we live in since time immemorial, we need feminism to become our second nature.

How are Indian women different from the others across the globe?

We are go-getters. Most women have to put up with a constant fight to achieve at the work front and the home front alike. We have to constantly prove our worth in spite of being exemplary at multitasking. We have to be perfect mothers, perfect wives, perfect daughters and high achievers at work.

But the biggest difference between women here and abroad is how society here is always in a hurry to pass judgements about one’s ‘character.’ From what she wears, how she talks, who she talks to, how she walks, how many male friends she has, how she sits, Everything boils down to her character!

We are all fighting to combat society’s perception of us. Some of us eventually learn to not care, but most just lead lives that are caged in this desire to appease the patriarch at the expense of their freedom.

Your first film: how you bagged the role and your experience?

My first film was Second Marriage dot com. This was in 2011, right after I graduated from FTII and came to Bombay. I had gotten this film in the first month of being in the city, which I hadn’t expected at all. The director had seen one of my short films ‘Proposal’ and cast me. I did the film mostly as an exercise to see how I would carry a two hour long film as the protagonist. I was pretty sure it wouldn’t release, but it did.

Your role in your the commercial movie Baar Baar Dekho.

It was so exciting. I loved every bit of being Chitra. Nitya, the director, had such great ideas about Chitra, that I just had to follow her and portray this fun, quirky, vulnerable but absolutely colourful Chitra. Someone who Jay could be confused about.

The most influential role in your career so far?

Of course Margarita With A Straw. It put me on the map. People in the industry noticed me. I feel immensely thankful to Shonali & Nilesh for making me part of the film.

Your take on women entrepreneurs, independent new age women, Indian sports women making us proud worldwide?

It’s about time that women got the correct opportunity and exposure to hone and showcase their talent. It is high time that women get to choose their career paths and make choices for themselves. It is good to see them making us proud against all odds.

For example if you saw the gym where Deepa Karmakar trained, you would start crying. In spite of the circumstances, girls like Deepa are putting India on the world map of achievers.

We have a long long way to go when it comes to equal opportunity for all. But we are moving in the right direction.

Define a woman of substance in your opinion?

Someone who can make decisions for herself and try to make her choices in spite of what people say.

Your experience in the male dominated industry?

It’s been great. Haven’t really faced any bias or difference in treatment from my male counterparts.

Who are your 4 A.M. friends in the industry?

Kalki Koechlin and Vinay.

Favourite shopping destination, designer and brand?

I love shopping in Hong Kong.
Payal Khandwala, Pero by Aneesh Arora

Fashion icon you’d love to follow or you’re following.

Don’t really follow anyone as such. But I loved Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe for what they embodied.

Favorite travel destinations. Also the ones that are on your travel list.

I love travelling to Kashmir. It’s so unfortunate that it’s the most stunning part of the country with amazing people and have had the worst recent history of violence against civilians. But it really is probably the most beautiful place on earth! I’d love to go to Japan and Greece. Have to do them next year hopefully.

What’s your message to the women of today?

Don’t worry about what they think of you. Just be. Just live. Just do exactly what your heart tells you to. It’s ok. And always feel worthy cause you are no matter who says that.


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