While Indian makeup artists are working on lot of exciting films and are raising the bar with use of prosthetics, there was a time when only men were allowed to work as make-up artistes.
The Long Wait
Did you know that for 59 long years, women in Bollywood could not officially work as make-up artists in Bollywood? The Supreme court of India recently passed a ruling putting an end to restrictions on women makeup artists in Bollywood. Shocked to hear this? Read on…
If you’ve recently been to movie theatres to watch a Bollywood film, you would definitely have seen the National anthem that features women – both technicians and actors – who have made a mark for themselves in the film industry India! Here’s the video in case you haven’t.
Despite having such powerful women in the industry, the various unions & federations in the industry ensured that females were not allowed as make-up artistes, until now. It took one Charu Khurana (supported by other women make-up artists) to file a PIL in the court, because female artists were not allowed to be a member of the association, and one couldn’t work in the industry without being registered with the association.
The SC ruling obviously brought joy to several female make-up artists, but what is shocking is that such a practice was allowed to go on for such a long time.
The court said that such “shocking” discrimination on the basis of gender was violative of constitutional values. The court also held as unconstitutional a provision that makes mandatory to have a five year domicile of Maharashtra for becoming a registered make-up artist and hair-dresser in Bollywood.
“Do you want to go to Tihar jail? What kind of attitude is this? You cannot discriminate between men & women, the time has come to accept it”, said the Supreme court bench to the president of the Cine Costume Make-up Artists & Hair Dressers Association. Earlier, in a landmark verdict, the supreme court had also directed film industries across the country, including the Tamil, Telugu & Malayalam cinema hubs, to ensure equal opportunities to women.
About Charu Khurana
Charu Khurana grew up watching Hollywood films and was fascinated by their special effects, prosthetics and makeup, and decided to make a career in that line of work. She went to Los Angeles to study ‘Make Up’ and returned to India to work in the film industry, only to be shockingly disappointed when she discover that a 59-year-old rule barred women from becoming makeup artists in movies.
Khurana qualified from the Cinema Make-up School, California, but her application for membership was rejected by the CCMAA (Cine Costume and Make-up Artist and Hair Dresser Association) in 2009 because she was a woman.
When she was fined 25,000 rupees ($406) for working on a Tamil movie, Khurana decided to take legal recourse. Ms. Khurana, who lives in New Delhi, said women artists had to abandon the profession or work illegally, often giving credit for their work to male colleagues so that the union of makeup artists wouldn’t find out.
But, the Supreme Court vindicated her stand by instructing the Maharashtra chapter of the Cine Costume Make-up Artists and Hair Dressers Association to allow women to take membership as makeup artists and without the need to hold a domicile certificate of Maharashtra, another prerequisite that prevented those from outside the state from working in Bollywood as makeup and hair artists.
Female Makeup Artists Still Harassed?
Probably this thing can happen only in India where even after the supreme court directed the Cine Costume Make-up Artists and Hair Dressers Association (CCMAA) to do away with a 59-year-old rule which barred women from working as make-up artists in the film industry, female makeup artists still face tough times in Bollywood.
Serina Dixeira, a make-up artist, recently filed a complaint with the police, alleging that members of the association had confiscated her union card and told her she could not work as a make-up artist if she already had a union card for hair-dressers.
“They told me I needed to hold a membership card as a make-up artist to work as one. But the association hasn’t communicated these details to me. My card was confiscated and I was told I needed to pay Rs 25,000 as fine and collect my hair-dresser card from the union office in Andheri,” said Dixeira.
The artist claimed the CCMAA had been charging Rs 1 lakh for a make-up card but did not take into account the fact that she already had a hair-dresser card for which she paid Rs 45,000.
The general secretary of CCMAA, Stanley D’Souza, however, said the vigilance team fined Dixeira because she had hired a non-member as an assistant, which is against the rules. “According to our rules, if a member hires people who are not part of the association, we charge them a fine them and forfeit their membership card, which is returned upon the payment of the penalty.”
Countering D’Souza’s claims, Dixeira said the team never told her that her card would be confiscated. “They demanded to see the card, claiming they would return it, but just walked away with it.”
D’Souza said the association held a meeting of all its members on December 6 where it announced that membership for make-up artistes was now open. “We sent out a circular inviting the members for the meeting. Many came, but Serina didn’t show up, he said.
However, Mehera Kolah, a veteran make-up artist in the film industry, said, “Firstly, the circular was in Marathi, which I cannot read. Secondly, many of us travel as part of our jobs. Should the association not have communicated the updates regarding the membership and any new rules through email or a circular issued to all production houses?”