When Sanober Pardiwalla entered Bollywood as a stuntwoman 20 years ago, there were hardly any women working behind the camera. Cut to the present day, the scene has completely changed, which Pardiwalla says is enough to tell the story of how women are claiming their position not just on screen, but also off screen.
“When it comes to women in the industry, and I’m not just talking about the stunt side, there are a lot of women now working in different departments. Earlier on set, it would be 80% male, and females would only be seen in the costume department. But that has completely changed,” she tells us.
Pardiwalla, who has acted as an understudy for actors such as Alia Bhatt, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif, Preity Zinta, Urmila Matondker and Aishwarya Rai, goes on to explain, “There are women involved in everything. the film creative process, from lighthearted woman to artistic director. For example, if you see some sets from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film, many female art directors worked there.
She entered the industry as a stuntwoman for Urmila Matondker in Bhoot (2003)and remembers not spotting a light woman.
“It was only a few years ago that I saw a woman expert in light, which was such a beautiful thing to see. Or there was always a dada dress, not a lady dress. Now I can proudly say that there are women growing up in this field, and not just in costumes. I’m so happy to have witnessed the change from being on a set with fewer women to a set dominated by women. In fact, there are days when there are 50% men and 50% women on set. I saw these two eras,” says the expert, who is also a physical trainer for several actors.
Recounting an incident, she says: “Recently, I worked on a commercial that was driven by an art director, giving instructions to about ten men. This highlights the difference. Psychology and mentalities have also opened up, with equal treatment for all. It’s not about whether you’re working under a man’s direction or whether a man wouldn’t follow a woman’s instructions. We’ve come a long way and it’s just upwards and forwards from here.