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There’s No Film a Man Can Shoot & I Can’t: Airlift DOP Priya Seth

Airlift cinematographer Priya Seth chats exclusively with The Quint about ‘being a woman doing a man’s job’.

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Priya Seth, the cinematographer of Raja Krishna Menon’s Airlift, is in a happy daze, thanks to all the appreciation that the film has received since its release. Many consider her to be a woman doing a man’s job. But she couldn’t disagree more. In an exclusive and candid chat with The Quint, Priya talks about what a dream it was to work with Akshay Kumar and that there’s no such thing as a ‘physical’ or ‘masculine’ film. What a man can shoot, she can too.

Airlift has truly been one of the most incredible experiences. Every film is incredible at one level, but we had the best crew that one could possibly have, we had the best set of actors. So the working environment was so stimulating, energetic, very exciting and very on edge.
Priya Seth, Airlift cinematographer

Having worked with Raja before, she was a natural choice for the Akshay Kumar starrer, not just because of the comfort level they share, but more so because he has a deep rooted conviction in her abilities to translate his vision onto film.

Airlift cinematographer Priya Seth chats exclusively with The Quint about ‘being a woman doing a man’s job’.
Priya Seth on the sets on Airlift (Photo courtesy: Priya Seth)
Akshay Kumar is so professional, so committed. I could shoot in the best of light, wherever I wanted, because he was available. That’s something one can’t take for granted because it doesn’t exist in this industry.  
Priya Seth
Airlift cinematographer Priya Seth chats exclusively with The Quint about ‘being a woman doing a man’s job’.
Priya Seth with Airlift director Raja Krishna Menon and other crew members (Photo courtesy: Priya Seth) 

Having said that, she does feel that the opportunities for women out there are fewer as compared to men. She’s glad that Airlift has got this ‘gender’ conversation going.

The opportunities are fewer because you’re judged already right at the beginning on the basis of gender. I don’t understand what a ‘physical film’ means! I don’t understand why a man can shoot this and I can’t. 
Priya Seth
Airlift cinematographer Priya Seth chats exclusively with The Quint about ‘being a woman doing a man’s job’.
There’s no film that a man can shoot and I can’t: Priya Seth (Photo courtesy: Priya Seth)

But did that ever keep her from pursuing a career as a cinematographer? Hell no!

I was very aware that I was picking a profession that’s going to be difficult gender wise. Did it ever stop me from thinking that I wanted to pursue it? No, it didn’t. That’s never been the kind of person I am, or the kind of family I’ve grown up in. So it was like ok I’m a girl, fine, now let’s move on.  
Priya Seth

The one thing that Priya’s sure of, the gender debate aside, is that you have to be nuts to be in the business of making films. Now that’s something that’s hard to dispute.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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