Bollywood make-up artists – why women have only been able to work since 2014

Bollywood make-up artists – why women have only been able to work since 2014

Did you know that women have only been able to work as Bollywood make-up artists since 2014?


The problem with Indian female make-up artists in Bollywood was nothing technical or logical. It was a simple matter of sexism.  The Cine Costume, Make-up Artists and Hair Dressers Association (the CCMAA) refused to grant membership to women make-up artists, only hairdressers. This archaic clause was put in place to apparently ensure equal opportunities for men and women. Yes, you did read that correctly. Since the CCMAA is such a powerful authority in Bollywood, it was their rules obeyed… or no film. 


To our young audience of the collective make-up obsessive, this will seem very strange; make-up is (now) a very female-led industry. However, traditionally throughout the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s, male make-up artists ruled the American and British industries of film, TV celebrity and fashion. Female make-up artists were unlikely to receive the same level of respect.


Until late 2014 in India, when women worked as make-up artists on set, they had to be prepared to put down their tools and hide when union officials toured the studio. Under the threat of being reprimanded and intimidated, these brave women were paid a small fraction compared to their male colleagues. Sadly these women never received credit for the work they did. The result of all of this was that few women saw make-up as a serious career. That was until a campaign started by Charu Khurana, a make-up artist trained in LA who experienced the fines and prejudice of the CCMAA first hand and took legal proceedings against them.


Finally, in late 2014, the Supreme Court of India ruled the CCMAA’s restrictions illegal and demanded that they allow women to become members and work as make-up artists on film sets. Enter Bollywood make-up artist Namrata Soni, a graduate of ours, who was a strong woman, defiantly pushing boundaries prior to the 2014 ruling and trailblazing through the industry ever since. Women in India have been making-up for lost time (pun intended) and Namrata believes this is down to the way the women themselves approach the work; “Women are perfectionists, this pushes the standard higher and it is now finally inching towards that seen in the rest of the world.” 


Women who see the potential for a rewarding career are now looking to travel to find the best available training. Since the start of 2015 we have seen an astonishing increase in the number of students coming over from India, many of them developing impressive careers since.  Namrata explains, “Women are willing to pay to get trained because they see the benefits of that training.” “It gives them the confidence and knowledge to go out there and face the challenges that the industry throws their way.”


“I’ve met a lot of naturally gifted professionals but training is an important aspect of growth. I feel it’s important to go where you have the opportunity to be trained by the best in the business. I believe Delamar Academy is the best school because it has the top industry teachers and you leave there prepared for world class achievement.”


We are relived that Bollywood has improved its stance on equality for female make-up artists. Being a part of this industry, training and nurturing the careers of ambitious women is something our founder, Penny Delamar (RIP) was always so proud of. 


Since Namrata graduated, we have produced some brilliant make-up artists who are doing very well in India: Bianca Louzordo, Payal Base, Rivera Vaz, Divianka Tripathi, Mitali Vakil and Shrutilaya Ramanathan to name but a few! 

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