The world may be fooled by her soft voice, but she commands respect on the sets as she leads the lighting team during the making of Bollywood films. 31-year-old Hetal Dedhia is India’s first female Gaffer in Bollywood, carving her own niche in a man’s world having been raised on a heavy diet of cinema.
Dreamed of becoming a gaffer at age 11
As someone who has worked on Bollywood projects like Luck by Chance, Karthik Calling Karthik and more, she has also worked on many international films like Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Une Plus Une. Born to Bollywood’s most beloved gaffer, Mulchand Dedhia, she often accompanied her father on the sets saying, “I was around 11 and the film was Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen. Even at that age, I knew that I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and become a gaffer. I was lucky that he helped me fulfil my dreams.” Although she was young, she soon realised the importance of lighting in the process of filmmaking and still feels lucky that she had that kind of exposure. So, she made the big decision to give up her professional snooker career and academics to become a professional gaffer.
Faced some resistance before acceptance from the industry
Until today, she has no regrets about how her life has panned out, however, she does admit that though she had the name she was never cut any slack because of it, saying, “There was some resistance, but as soon as people realised that I knew what I was doing, their reaction changed from scepticism to acceptance.” Though it was easy to break into the industry at first, she did have big shoes to fill. After completing her training as a technician which lasted for 6 years, she currently serves as a first assistant cameraman for cinematographer Jason West. On making it in a male-dominated field, she says, “I don’t have any problems except when the equipment is very heavy, but men also require assistance at times. I get treated the same as everybody else and wouldn’t have it any other way.”
An inspiration to women and the people who work with her, she strongly believed that one must “Be sure that this is what you really want to do, as it’s not easy”.
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