Chitrangda Singh’s new film with mentor-director Sudhir Mishra, Inkaar, focuses on sexual harassment in the workplace. The actor, who’s gearing up for what is likely to be an emotionally-draining shoot, points out that sexual harassment is something most women face, be it in village fields, corporate boardrooms or even when commuting to work.
"It’s easier to prove rape than sexual harassment that could amount to nothing more than a man staring at you all day. It happens in front of everyone’s eyes, yet it’s difficult to make people believe that you are being targetted because no one is trying to force himself on you, just making you uncomfortable with words, stares and sometimes, by unnecessarily brushing against you. It’s frustrating!" she says.
Prod her on whether she’s ever faced a similar situation in the male-dominated movie industry where the casting couch is a harsh reality, and she says, "This may sound like a cliché but no, it’s never happened to me. In fact, my mother is happier since I shifted to Mumbai for work because it’s a safer city for a woman to be alone in than Delhi."
Having grown up in the "aggressive" north, Chitrangda admits to having received her share of unwelcome male attention. And over the years, she’s honed her defence tactics. "Even today, if I’m driving alone, the first thing I do after getting into the car is lock the door. I would that even before switching on the ignition. And after 10 pm, I would stop the car for nothing and no one. ‘You have a flat tyre’ is the oldest trick in the world, and still works," she says with a shudder, adding that she has the cop code — 100 — on her speed dial and never ventures out without a can of pepper spray.
All this will come into play when Inkaar, which also stars Arjun Rampal, flags off.
"It will not be easy to put myself in the role of a victim who takes the fight to the top," she admits. "But I’m ready for it because Inkaar is going to be an eye opener for men and an eye-for-an-eye lesson for women."