‘A few months into work in London, I faced sexual harassment at the hands of our then CEO.’ – Supreet K Singh – film maker, activist and COO Safecity, in an interview with Pooja Garg, Founder Chief Editor, The Woman Inc.
PG: How did you get involved in this work? They say there is usually a personal experience which propels such passion. Is there a personal experience/ story behind what started this for you?
SS: Around 15 years back when I was working as a marketing manager with a liquor company, I was transferred to London for a 2 years stint. A few months into work in London, I faced sexual harassment at the hands of our then CEO. The company had no clear sexual harassment policy or processes to deal with such cases and so I decided to come back to India and join our recently started aviation business. This is where I met my friend and now my partner at Red Dot Foundation, Elsa. With similar values and views on human rights, we shared more than a work space and so when Elsa asked me to join her in running Red Dot Foundation, it was a very natural and fluid extension of what and who I was.
I was a storyteller from childhood so when I shifted my interest from written to visual words, film making became second skin. Realizing and using this powerful medium to give a voice to the silenced and conflicted in the social global eco systems has helped me marry my two passions of life. Filmmaking, art and activism for gender equality and human rights.
PG: What were the challenges you faced when you started? Have they eased since then?
SS: A new line of work space at any time has its challenges but the strong positive intent has magically paved way to smaller achievements at every step whether it was for RDF or for my stories/films.
PG: What are the new challenges you face today?
SS: To make my space as a woman with a different vision for cinema, in a normally man led world of film-making.
PG: What is the one achievement that you prize more than any other, and why?
SS: I believe that life is made of many small achievements and they all are special in a way. My optimism and belief that with love magic happens and the world can change into a better place, has been my most prized constant, which has helped me reach where I am as an artist and activist. I am marrying my two passions in my first feature film and I cannot be happier.
PG: How has the thought / perception within the area you work in changed over the years? Is there a story that you might want to share about how the perception has changed? Is there a certain misconception that you wish people would change within the area you work in?
SS: I would like the film industry to accept women in every department and acknowledge that they are as competitive as any other gender. It’s time we invest in stories on social stigmas and global conflicts and accept that they can bring in box office collections too.
I wish people would get over the social taboos and work towards raising a more informed & responsible future generation.
PG: What gives you hope for the area you work in?
SS: Active participation by women in cinema is increasing and you can see women walking into areas that were totally monopolized by men. For eg you see more women DOPs and producers.
Some media houses are taking responsibility and consciously making more gender friendly content /ads/web series/films for consumption.
PG: If you had the chance to change any one policy in the area of your work, what would that be, and why?
SS: Sex education in schools and new guidelines for media houses ensuring they create responsible content.
PG: What makes you get up and do this everyday of your life?
SS: The fact that whatever I do is positively impacting someone somewhere in the world.
PG: What is your vision for the future? How do you see your work and organization shaping up?
SS: I see a world that is gender equal, giving everyone a chance to live to their full potential. My reel stories on social conflicts and silenced communities fighting discord through human values, aim to bring about a more holistic non-discriminatory dialogue in the real world.
PG: If you had just three words to describe yourself, what would they be?
SS: Positive, passionate and genuine.
PG: What are the three things that people don’t know about you?
SS: Am a loner, extremely sensitive and a total dance addict.
PG: If there was one poem or book that has inspired you the most on your journey, which one is it? What makes it special for you?
SS: I don’t have one special poem or book but..
IF by Rudyard Kipling, has been a poem my dad used to read out to me and it seems more relevant every time I have read it since. Although I am sure Rudyard Kipling would have made it gender equal in today’s age. I love poems by Ghalib, Faiz and Rumi.
The writers who gave me my love for cinema are Jane Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexander Pushkin, Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay and Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay to name a few.
A writer, film director, a gender activist and a yoga acharya, Supreet K Singh has transitioned from the corporate world to an award-winning filmmaker & champion of an NGO, Safecity.in that works at the intersection of gender, technology, communications, data and urban planning. She is a certified personal counsellor and conducts workshops creating awareness about sexual violence with children, communities and corporates. A Vital Voices VV Lead fellow, she was recently awarded as the Web wonder woman by the Ministry of Women (GOI), Woman of substance award by FICCI Flo and the Social Innovator Leadership award by Biz Divas. Being an artist, she dabbles in charcoal & poetry and believes that wine, love and tango are a reflection of the soul. She has recently published her collection of poetry and is currently working on her first feature film.