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eShe|March 2021
Indian-American actor and filmmaker Dr Lakshmi Devy is sending out a strong message of women’s empowerment through her directorial debut

There are large parts in Lakshmi Devy’s directorial debut film, When the Music Changes (2020), that are intensely gut-wrenching in their portrayal of gang-rape. Without the use of voyeurism or nudity, Lakshmi – who is also the lead actor in the drama – manages to make the viewer queasy enough to want to turn the screen off. “Imagine, if you – as the viewer – feel so sick, how must actual victims of rape feel? I kept the full length of the scene because I want stomachs to churn. I want to burn it into the viewer’s memory – so that the next time someone makes a rape joke, this is the scene that will come to your mind,” says the feisty and talented young woman who wears various hats as a doctor, actor, screenwriter and now director.

Born in New York, Lakshmi belongs to a typical Malayalee family “where most of the men are engineers and most of the women are doctors”. One of three siblings, Lakshmi spent part of her childhood in Thiruvananthapuram and hadn’t considered any other course of education other than medicine. “When I was growing up, I didn’t know films were a career option, even though dance and drama were a huge part of my upbringing,” says Lakshmi, whose mother is a nephrologist and compensated for her own lack of dance training by making sure her daughters learnt dance and drama all through school.

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