With Jacqueline and transgender model Lama fronting her short film in Tell It Like a Woman, director Yadav hopes to change women’s depiction in cinema
Director Leena Yadav flanked by Anjali Lama and Jacqueline Fernandez
It was an easy yes for Leena Yadav when she was approached by producer Carol Polakoff in 2020 to be a part of Tell It Like a Woman. The anthology, backed by non-profit film production company We Do It Together, attempts to subvert the way women have been depicted in cinema. From Eva Longoria to Taraji P Henson, from Cara Delevingne to Anne Watanabe, stars from across the globe have joined forces for the endeavour, bringing seven short films helmed by female directors to the fore.
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Cara Delevingne and Eva Longoria also star in the anthology
Yadav’s short, titled Sharing a Ride and shot in Mumbai, features Jacqueline Fernandez and Nepal’s first transgender model Anjali Lama. “My segment sees Jacqueline as a cosmetologist who is obsessed with beauty and perfection. When she shares a rickshaw on a rainy day with a traffic cop, played by Anjali, she is initially repulsed by the transgender. But finally, the transgender heals the cisgender,” says the director. Roping in the right actors was crucial for such a sensitive story. “I was clear that I wanted to cast a transgender. There is something honest and powerful about Anjali, and how she has owned her sexuality. Jacqueline met me within 48 hours of my approaching her. It’s amazing how she surrendered herself as an actor.”
Yadav, who in the past helmed the women-led Parched (2015), says the anthology is another step towards fighting for gender equality. “By using cinema and breaking stereotypes of women, [we] aim to create change in people. The movies change the narrative where women are the subject rather than [being objectified]. It’s inclusive of every gender.”