Meryl Streep & Oprah Winfrey inspire Tisca Chopra's film Rubaru on Ageism

"We are termed as commodities of use, perky breasts and sexuality. So when that is not the focus of who you are...then what is that woman useful for?" Tisca asks.

Shaili Chopra
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Tisca Chopra Rubaru film, women over 50

Tisca Chopra's directorial debut with a long short film titled Rubaru, takes on harsh realities women face in the film industry all the time - like that of ageism. Tisca Chopra in a candid conversation with SheThePeople talks about the inspiration behind the film and if it were made on her own experiences. Chopra has acted in over 40 feature films and Taare Zameen Par, her best known feature film, was India's official entry to the Academy Awards.


Tisca says she was inspired by an interview of Meryl Streep where she said that , "after a certain age you are termed dignified and central parts dry up for you. Just when you are at the peak of your performing powers." I thought this is Meryl Streep, and if she is facing this, then what is the hope for the rest of us. And later I read something Oprah Winfrey had said, "You have to take your pain and turn it into power." I kept thinking of both Oprah and Meryl Streep, I was thinking, as roles were becoming scantier, people started coming with character parts, I thought I had to do something about it. Those moments became a central idea for the story I wanted to tell."

Chopra, 47, says directors and actors are often near the cause if they are making a film about it. So was this autobiographical? "I think if you have to make a genuine piece of work particularly as a director, then the kernel of the idea, has to be in your DNA. It is not autobiographical because it's not just the story of one actress but of anyone who is struggling with relevance, self doubt, struggling with being edged out by shinier and newer models."

Chopra's film on the sensitive issue of ageism comes at a time Indian society is raising pertinent questions about women claiming their rights and spaces. In Bollywood, for the longest time, perhaps even as recently until 2014, actresses would hide their marriage or pregnancies. But today they are out loud and proud talking about motherhood and are marrying at the peak of their careers. Here at SheThePeople, we are raising the voice on how women must claim their sexuality, sexual pleasure, work goals, ambitions and talk about it more freely.

Tisca Chopra added, "We are termed as commodities of use, perky breasts and sexuality. So when that is not the focus of who you are...then what is that woman useful for? I found that tragic. Women's stories are so enormous in our times, as human interest stories, what women are going through in a largely misogynistic world. Rubaru comes from all those ideas."

Chopra does admit, five decades ago she wouldn't have been able to make this film. "Women were powerless, they were butterflies and flower vases who decorated the film scene. Their role was mostly to fulfil the male gaze."

Thankfully, we are in for change and films like Rubaru are building on that juggernaut. Directed by and starring Tisca Chopra in the lead, "Rubaru" released on November 28. The short film also stars actors Arjun Mathur and Chitrashi Rawat.


Tisca Chopra rubaru