Eleven years after getting rejected, Mitta Antony becomes first officially recognised woman make-up artist in Malayalam cinema


Mitta Antony has become the first woman make-up artist to get membership in the Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA) Make-Up Union

Mitta Antony has become the first woman make-up artist to get membership in the Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA) Make-Up Union

Mitta Antony was on the verge of giving up on her career as a make-up artist when the Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA) Make-Up Union finally decided to give her a membership this week. But, that decision, making her the first make-up woman to get a membership in the union, comes after years of rejection, struggles and disappointment. When she had applied for a membership eleven years back, she was rejected.

The recognition which comes after working as a make-up artist in 37 films will pave the way for more women to come into the field, says Ms. Antony in an interview to The Hindu on Wednesday.

Entry to the field

“During my younger days, I used to wonder at the transformation that Mammootty underwent for Ponthan Mada or the variety of looks that Kamal Haasan experimented with for many films. Although I did not know back then that I would be a make-up artist, I have always been fascinated by the possibilities of transforming appearance using make-up. I had initially taken up conventional courses for higher education and dropped out, only to take up diploma courses in make-up. The first chance I got was to do the make-up for a musical programme on a channel in 2006-07. In the following years, I did more courses and worked in Arabic, Hindi, Tamil and Bhojpuri movies,” she says.

A first in India

After her membership request was denied in 2011, she realised that no woman has been recognised as a registered make-up artist in any film industry in India. A few other women, who were being denied opportunities, were already fighting the case, leading to the Supreme Court in 2014 striking down a rule that prohibited women from working as registered make-up artistes.

“I continued to work in documentaries and some government projects. Then in 2017, I got a chance to do make-up in Udalazham, my first Malayalam movie. In 2018, Anjali Menon offered me the chance to do the make-up for Koode, which turned out to be a big break for me. Without her offer, I wouldn’t have managed to enter the mainstream Malayalam industry and work for a big banner. Since then I have worked in films like Shyamaprasad’s Kasiminte Kadal and Don Palathara’s 1956, Central Travancore. But, it has been a struggle to survive, as I have not been getting enough work to take care of my two children. I was about to give up and start a business when this official union recognition came along. Now, I won’t give up. It is my dream to become a part of major productions,” says Ms. Antony.

WCC support

The Women in Cinema Collective (WCC), which has been supporting her, hailed FEFKA’s decision as a historic victory. The WCC expressed hope that this step will pave the way for more women to receive recognition as make-up artists through union cards and find equal opportunities in the Malayalam film industry. Though many women are working as personal make-up artists of actors, none of them can be the official make-up artist in a movie, unless they get a union membership.

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