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Measuring a country

I believe Obama’s now famous quote can and should be understood as “You can measure how well a country, COMPANY, COMMUNITY OR FAMILY does by how well it treats its women”.

When Mallika Sherawat spoke of India being regressive towards women, folks pounced on her for deriding the country in a public forum. But fact remains India is not a monolith, there are a 1000 Indias within Indian society giving room for very different individual experiences. We have many things to be proud of, including a heritage where women were respected and worshipped. But it is important to recognise that even with that cultural background, the majority of our women population have difficult lives with severe limitations on individual liberty, safety and opportunity. Isn’t that fact the bigger shame to our country?

This post is prompted by the #disruptingthedefault movement on twitter by Catalyst, Inc that is “working globally to build inclusive workplaces and expand opportunities for women and business.”


In my field of work, I know what it is like to be the minority or even the only one. We are in a culture where a loud voice and an autocratic attitude can be mistaken for “leadership qualities”, so it isn’t easy to remain soft-spoken and democratic and yet get things done. Not everyone understands a management style where you bring together people and make them care about the project enough to give their 100% to it.  As women this is something we do within our families  – day in day out, and IT WORKS. That is what brings about true synergy – the best leaders know that, irrespective of their gender. Fortunately Harvard Business School has heard of it and calls it leading from behind. 🙂 But most others haven’t and would prefer the familiar option of a leader who enslaves a team to execute his/her vision. (How limited is that??) Sadly even women try to imitate men and male management styles rather than finding their own strengths and paths.

In the workplace, often men are not equipped to deal with women and emerge discriminatory without even knowing it. How does one deal with someone who doesn’t even realise he is being sexist? Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In has wonderful examples of how reality bites. Where does this emerge from? Doesn’t one need to look back at the children they were? The parents they were raised by? The environment and friends they grew up with?

It reminds me of Gloria Steinhem’s words “we have begun to raise our daughters more like our sons, but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters”. Each of us needs to find our own way to change things for the better. Besides other things, I’ve started off with my lil boy. 🙂

Comments: 40

  • vpoeta January 28, 20157:36 pm

    nyc write up, but sadly it reminds this ,
    ” for Obama’s visit around 15000 CCTV cameras were installed in Delhi, It takes 1 US President instead of the many women raped in Delhi to finally install cameras”

    • Muhammed Mohamadali February 1, 20152:35 pm


  • Savitha Avish January 28, 20157:39 pm

    Well said anjali. Well the way u ve put it is unique and for me it comes as no surprise coz its from you ☺. You have proven that nothing is gender based or biased with your presence in the film industry by being the only one so far and that too with cent percent success with all your projects executed till now. The best part of this blog of yours…The last line ☺…God Bless You! Savitha Avish ☺

  • Rajesh January 28, 20159:09 pm

    This is your best post Maam.
    Most women in our country are in some ways slaves in their life. Most men dont even realise at all how machist they are. Sadly, most of our women bring up their own sons in such a way that they will too grow up to a machist. Unfortunately, every thing around, our literature, movies, families society, everything around, preaches a patriarchal way of life and customs that even the culprits and victims dont realise that they are unfair to the female.

  • Shaji Daniel January 28, 20159:34 pm

    Well, What I believe the environment the family then the society itself the cause of the personality developed without gender biasing. we cannot forget the fact that “Amma, Ma”( Mother) is the pillar of the family and has great role of moulding both girl and boy. Though, the Indian culture enriched with epic and mythology revolved with women Character in key roles, the penetration of significance in today’s India’s diversified culture, caste, creed, colour and tongue is in doubt. And the influence of the art,literature and other cultural activity at stake in women’ s life. In conclusion I have a strong feeling that the women herself can make a Change in their life as well as societies life.

  • Baby January 28, 201511:21 pm


  • Sunand January 28, 201511:42 pm

    Lucky little boy, hope India will change in generations to come with people like him.

  • rajeevkknair January 29, 20152:07 am

    You have raised an important issue, which I think is important to get it right- no bias towards gender. If we don’t know it, we don’t see it. Having said that, exposure and experience in a different setting- for example, an Indian man or woman who lives overseas as a migrant- suddenly know it and then start thinking and behaving with the right attitude. The key is exposure and modelling behaviour. Education although can be tried, but most with the “collective unconsciousness” would resist and reject it. An ideal world is gender- neutral. I don’t agree with you to bring up a boy as a girl and girl as a boy! You may end up in breeds that are artificial and behaviour forced!
    For some, it is natural to respect women and accept her leadership. I have worked and followed some amazing women- much better than men both by intelligence and character. Have a nice day!

      • rajeevkknair February 2, 20154:24 pm

        Thanks, Anjali. I was referring to “role reversal” by behavioural modification, which may be problematic. However, teaching and showing values are crucial in a child’s normal development esp. moral and ethical including aspects of gender-related matters. On a different note, I am a fan of your great movies- I have seen Bangalore days and Manchadikuru and also Ustad Hotel. The movies are reflective of your amazing talent! Look forward to see more and more of such creations! Have a nice day!
        Prof (Dr) Rajeev kumar.
        Canberra, Australia

  • Sarah January 29, 20159:15 am

    You appear like a gentle, calm, soft-spoken person and I have often wondered how you managed the entire film crew and create such wonderful masterpieces. Leading from behind seems doable in a corporate environment where most of us have the similar thought-processes on equality. But how hard was it in cinema, where you have to manage all kinds of people. If anything stops me from starting a small business in India, it is this – how to get your team to listen and work with you without being taken advantage of.

  • Vakeellic January 29, 20155:17 pm

    Good One! Nice to read!

  • prakaash January 30, 20151:09 am

    hi..mam.. thank u for discussing some thing which is very relevant and true reflection of our society..irrespective of gender..we are generating hard core goal oriented citizens..where sensitivity is being branded as weakness in this mad competitive environment…as a whole our society is losing the most valuable feminine traits..which we require to be more humane..as you said every one should find our own way..as proud parents of our only daughter ..we are nurturing her to look beyond self and become a great source of synergy…

  • ANN KURIAN January 30, 20151:17 pm

    “In my field of work, I know what it is like to be the minority or even the only one. We are in a culture where a loud voice and an autocratic attitude can be mistaken for “leadership qualities”, so it isn’t easy to remain soft-spoken and democratic and yet get things done. Not everyone understands a management style where you bring together people and make them care about the project enough to give their 100% to it.” —-AWESOME POST Anjali! i can identify totally with this part of it…have experienced the exact same issues be it a Theatre production or a Film, but I think the best way is to share ur passion and conviction..that is way more powerful to inspire a team than loudness or an autocratic approach! And U have already done it..so proud of what u have achieved..in ur own simple style. Keep flying! Dont let anything stop U! And Im sure ur lil’ boy will grow into a fabulous sensitive human being for what u are teaching him today..I have followed the same principles with my sons..and they are far better with all kinds of people and situations as a result of that. Its a tough world out there! Kudos to you! Do keep in touch! ANN

      • Ann Kurian February 12, 20155:46 pm

        Yes 🙂 …But what i learnt was that its all part of the game…and I loved that you kept your focus on what you had to do…despite pressure….and the results are there to see! Can see ur heart in BD!

  • Indhu January 31, 20154:12 pm

    Well said!!!!

  • rajeev February 1, 20159:54 am

    well written….

  • shaziya February 3, 20153:58 pm

    Hi maam.ur article is really thought provoking.people need to be recognised by their work nd not gender.having said dat ur a really gifted writer .d way u hve brought abt movies like ustad hotel nd banglore days.d way d story is told i juz loved it.d songs d music d shots d perfect casting d fresh nd novel themes nd d story unfolding beautifully.hats off to u coz as a woman director its a big responsibilty to convince others nd to prove urself.hoping to c more feel gud movies frm u in d future.al d very best maam.cheers.

  • Saritha Pandyat February 4, 20159:46 am

    Dear Anjali,

    Happened and happy to see this post about you:) Not sure if you have already seen..


      • Saritha February 4, 201511:26 pm


  • k.r.k. menon February 4, 20157:46 pm

    What you have written absolutly correct.


  • barrira February 8, 20152:36 pm

    This is apt and yes it needs to begin from home, the change.

  • Jishnu R Krishnan February 8, 20155:31 pm

    u continue with ur lil one

  • Jishnu R Krishnan February 8, 20155:38 pm

    continue with your lil & tell him about our prospecious kerala how to preserve it

  • Suma February 9, 201511:21 am

    Hi Anjali,
    I am not a Malayalam speaking. I watched ‘Bangalore Days’ accidentally and was impressed with screen play. I happened to watch Ustaad Hotel, Manjaadikuru, Happy journey with help of sub-titles. I was watching a complete film after long time where all characters in film had a role to play, they got logical ending, carried content in story…
    Without talent and continuous effort, one cannot make perfect films like these. Pretty impressed and have started watching Malayalam movies because of you. Please give more works for us like this to watch and relish.All the best!!
    Suma Udupa.

  • npkpillai February 15, 20158:20 pm

    I appreciate your risktaking and courage to challenge the men’s world of films

  • smitaavin February 25, 20151:46 pm

    Reblogged this on Smita Avanindra.

  • Karthika Raju February 26, 20157:54 pm

    hi Anjali.. im ur follower. u inspired me a lot in every aspects. ur way of story telling is super. in all the three movies u create a narrator to tell the story. i think u r a person who is very much interested to hear story from others. anyway its awesome. thanks alot anjali for those wonderful movies. will keep in touch with you. 🙂

  • Kenny Joseph Jose March 31, 201511:04 am

    Hi Anjali, Watched the movie Bangalore Days….The dog recognizing Fahad was excellent and touching..who is behind that idea????

  • Ananthakrishnan S April 5, 20159:40 am

    Hi mam,
    I am a big fan of your films which are more or less reflections of your thoughts. And they mostly linger around women who want to be independent in life. Let it be the character of nazriya in bangalore days or nithya menen in usthad hotel; they donot want to spend their lives just as wives, which I believe is women empowerment. But a recent video starring deepika padukone (“MY CHOICE”) talks about women empowerment in a bitter manner(Though that just amounts to a single line). This has created a lot of opinions for or against that. What is your take on that?

  • Joe (@joezach54) April 6, 20156:43 pm

    Saw the movie Bangalore days today (pretty late I must say) nevertheless, I just wanted to say that its a well made one. I looked it it from every angle: continuity, direction, acting, location, photography, sound, music, casting, language, dubbing . . . . . in every way its perfect.

  • Soumya Simon May 13, 20154:14 am

    Hey Anjali,

    My mind was literally blown when I watched Bangalore days. I’m late I know! Tell me about it! But I watched it, I loved it and it was so different from the typical Malayalam movie. I was actually hesitant to watch it at the theater when my family went because the entire time I thought “O it must be the typical love triangle!” Boy was I wrong! the fact that they were related and not in love with each other was so different I couldn’t handle the excitement!

    I told my sis that I actually loved the story (I watched it a couple weeks ago). That’s when she told me it was directed by a women and that blew my mind too. I wish there was more directors that represent women and stories based on women in Malayalam movies. I watch a lot of English movies too so I know men dominate Hollywood as well and it’s not just an Indian thing.

    I’ve been writing a story (it’s still in draft mode though) that I wish will be made into a movie one day, I just don’t have the connections and I don’t know how these things work. Feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to take a look at it (soumyas18@yahoo.com), you can make tweaks to it as you’d like. The thing is, I want to see more women in action movies! Every time a women fights she’s represented as the villain or a female dog (if you know what I mean) in Indian movies. I want a women to fight in a movie for the good side and whoop some ass! And I don’t mean the fake, I’m a girl so this is all I can do whooping, but the way you see the girls in Charlie’s Angel or Fast and the Furious fight. Anyways, I thought I’ll try to reach out to you so I don’t feel like a wimp for not doing so.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this.

    Best wishes,
    Soumya S.

  • Anjana May 30, 20156:25 am

    Hello Ms Anjali
    I think the desire to work with you is the best, and upfront way to express my appreciation for your work. However, I have not quite been able to find your contact email address. I am an aspiring AD and I’d like to introduce myself to you and forward my resume. I realize that this not the most appropriate place to ask, but I noticed that you are receptive to comments here. Excuse me for this unsolicited enquiry. Could you share your Email address?

  • Nithya Nair July 7, 201512:44 am

    Mam, Myself am Nithya from thrissur. I am doing my post graduation in Journalism and mass communication in Farook college. My 4th semester dissertation topic based upon your movie. ‘An exploratory analysis of the female gaze in a movie directed by a woman’ a case study on Anjaly Menon’s Banglore days. How can i contact you. Hope to hear from you.

  • rahul November 5, 20152:32 pm

    hai chechi,
    big fan of yours… you are my inspiration for writing scripts.
    i really have a doubt which’s actually killing me from inside.
    i have heard that in india scriptwriters are paid very less.
    is it true for malayalam industry too?
    i have a script ready but dont know whether to show it or not since i dont know if its worth it.
    sorry if i wasted your time .
    waiting for your next movie with prathap sir. 🙂

  • shree February 23, 201611:13 pm

    Hi.maam.big fan of your work.i dont know if you have the time to read all the comments or if you will have the time to reply to this.but i would like to ask u a big favor.you could actually shed some limelight this topic.its about what happens to students who go abroad for studies.and wat happens to them not all of them but some of them.students study in a new environment among new people .but not always its a dream come true.it involes pain ,wrong decisions,being cheated,and no help as even parents cant do much about the issue siting in home country.

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