It would be ideal to have a win-win situation where both genders are walking side by side.

Rohini is an Indian actress, lyricist, screenwriter, voice actor and director. She has mainly acted in south Indian, notably Malayalam and Tamil films. Having started her acting career at five, she has about 130 south Indian films to her credit. She received National Award of Special mention and Andhra Pradesh State Award for Best Female Actor in the year 1996 for the film Sthree.

Being an activist for AIDS awareness, Rohini has also directed short films for M.G.R. Medical University and Tamil Nadu Aids Control Society. In 2008, Rohini had directed a 50-minute documentary Silent Hues about film industry’s child artists, she being one herself. Her acting skills were recognized and she was given the Kalaimamani award recently.

Rohini shares with Marie Banu her thoughts about women—yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

What are your thoughts about women— yesterday, today, and tomorrow?

Yesterday it was really bad. Today, it is slightly better. I cannot say this with total conviction, because today I read about a woman who was raped by constables in the police station premises. I do not know what ‘better’ actually means now. We have two girls who were raped and hanged as they were dalits.

If you look at the way in which women have progressed financially– yes, they have become financially independent,and are able to support their family. They are also able to stand up for themselves. But, this is not the ideal situation though. It would be ideal to have a win-win situation where both genders are walking side by side. ‘I don’t follow you; you don’t follow me. If I am following you, I am protecting you; if I am followed, I am leading you.’

Having done a documentary onthe life of child artists, what are your views about children who participate in television reality shows?

It is totally different when compared to children taking part in reality shows. Because, child actors are involved in this profession solely for financial reasons and totally miss out on their education. They are put into aunnatural situation where they have to laugh, cry, and endurea strenuous schedule like any adult actor. The child does not understand what he/she goes through. Undue attention from peers make them feel different. They are deprived of the natural way of growing up.

A child participating in the reality show attends a regular school. He/she is happy to participate in the competitions, but is pressurized by the parents very much. The kind of emotional upheaval the child goes through is not at all recommended. I don’t think the child should be put through such stress.

Your started your career as a Child Artist. What was your inspiration to join the film industry?

I didn’t enter on my own. It was my father who was interested. Inthe beginning, I liked to bunk school. But, when I met my school friends after shoot hours, I realized that I did not know anything and felt backward. There was a gap of three years in my career, when I was between 11 and 13 years of age.I was too old to play a child character and too young to play an adult character. That’s when I actually went to school. I was admitted straight away in 5th standard and did not know how to even write the alphabets in one line. But, when I started learning, I was encouraged by my teachers. I was a fast learner and was very happy to go to school. I did not want to discontinue, but had to.

You have done a short film on AIDS awareness. Can you tell us more about this?

I started a company and wanted to do advertisements and corporate films. It was then I got the opportunity to work closely with TANSACS and CAPACS. I gave them some story boards, and they wanted me to direct the film. One particular short film titled ‘Amma’ got wide recognition, as it was very emotional and touched the audience.

Which of the social issues are you passionate about?

Anything to do with environment really moves me a lot and troubles me. I think that is my calling and I would like to do something for that. We are inspired by people who have taken the initiative to rejuvenate the water bodies (like lakes, tanks and ponds)in Salem, Madurai, and Coimbatore to provide adequate supply of drinking water.

We have already started doing some ground work. We plan to replicate this effort in and around Chennai. First of all, we would like to appeal to the government to take up this issue seriously and act fast. We also want to partner with the government whereinmy part would be in creating awareness and mobilizing support from citizens who reside around the water bodies.

We want like-minded people to collaborate with us.I welcome students and NGOs to collaborate with my team.