I am both. Male and female. Without my female self I am neither creative nor spiritual. Without my male self I am neither enterprising, nor active. I am not both man and woman. I am a man. But finally,I am now both male and female.
And finding the balance was tough. To balance the nurturing nature with the aggressive go-getting nature. Men too often ignore their female selves. Part of that, I am absolutely sure, is our educational system and social conditioning.
As a young Punjabi male I grew up ‘knowing’ that I must be the Decision Maker. The Provider. The Career Junkie. The social conditioning and peer pressure around me made me made me carry the burden of the sexual predator. The seducer. This did not end in India. As I went to London as a young student, the same attitudes prevailed.
I was never comfortable. I found bieng completely male a huge burden to carry. So I left bieng the Career Junkie, the accountant, the management consultant on his way to the top of the corporate ladder. I now realize I went in search for my female self. That was the first step in my quest to find myslef. A journey that continues to this date.
It took a long time. It was not till I made a film called “The Bandit Queen’, that I truly discovered my female self. For those that have seen it, will know what I mean immedietly. This was a film about a low caste woman that was repeatedly raped, and finally turned into a bandit that went back to wreak revenge.
Someone once asked me what I learnt from that film. I said I am now willing to stand in the middle of the street and shout aloud “I am weak”. And you have no idea how inherrently strong that makes me. The contradiction. Strength through an acceptance of weakness.
Like suddenly turning into Water, when all your life you were stone.
To watch myself moving now seamlessly from male to female and back is such a fascinating observation. From bieng the ‘general’ on the sets when I am filming, back to being a gentle soul reduced to fits of crying. It’s amazing. From almost tyranical decisiveness, obstinate and egoistic. To almost a total absence of authority, of indecisiveness where the moment is allowed to completely dominate me. I find the process fascinating and provocative. And creative.
So often I was asked whether Bandit Queen was a ‘feminist’ film and I always said no, it was a ”humanist’ film. It embraced both the feminist and masculinist in the same character. As in all characters. Even in Elizabeth.
I am not saying that women are weak, while men inherrently agressive and strong in nature. I am saying that all women and men exhibit male and female natures. As they must do to find harmony.
In one of my unsuccesful films (Four Feathers) I did try and explore the nature of true courage. True courage was not the ability to die. It was the ability to live. True courage is more female than male, for true courage is Wisdom. And Wisdom is the strength to give and nurture, not to take and destroy.