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Cannes Film Festival 2018: Manto actress Rasika Dugal shares experience of participating in 82 women’s protest walk

Manto actress Rasika Dugal joined the #MeToo movement and participated in the demonstration at the 71st Cannes festival alongside Hollywood stars like Cate Blanchett and Salma Hayek.

Seeing how the battle for gender equality is far from over, 82 women from the guest list staged a silent protest and demonstration on the red carpet at the Palais des Festivals. This big group walked together in silence, into the main hallway and made a symbolic pause halfway up the steps to highlight the difficulties women face when trying “to climb the social and professional ladder”.

Indian actress Rasika also actively joined the protest, which also saw the likes of Hollywood veteran Jane Fonda, Kristen Stewart and Salman Hayek among others.

In an interview to Mumbai Mirror, Rasika said “We met at a particular place and walked in groups of 10, holding hands. We were all emotional and some of us were crying. I was holding hands with a distributor called Sophie whom I’d met for the first time. At the end of the march, I thanked her for sharing the moment with me and she revealed that she’s pregnant and happy that her child got to experience this before it came into the world. Just talking about it gives me gooseflesh.”

Rasika is attending the Cannes Film Festival along with director Nandita Das and actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui, where their film Manto is being screened. In this biopic based on controversial poet Saadat Hasan Manto, Dugal plays the role of his better half. Manto was a strong proponent of freedom of expression who was often criticised for ‘vulgarity’ in his works to which he would retort as being a reflection of the reality.

Last year proved to be a monumental year in terms of both assessment of the present situation and ascertaining the future for women in Hollywood. The year saw the #MeToo movement gain momentum where women from across the world took to social media to highlight their experiences with sexual harassment. At the peak of its popularity, social media was flooded with the hashtag bringing to light the ubiquitous nature of harassment.

Apart from fighting for safer spaces for women, it also brought to light the many salient devils in the system like gender disparity, lack of representation and pay inequality. The popular movement presumably had a direct effect at Cannes Festival this year where the nine member jury panel for the main competition saw five women members and was headed by Cate Blanchett.