As unreal as it gets
Not all play: Say techies about their lifestyles Photo: Arunangsu Roy

Thanks to a daily soap on a popular Malayalam television channel, Technopark and the lifestyle of techies who work there are in the limelight – for all the wrong reasons, it seems. The serial apparently portrays techie life, especially that of women techies, in such an unrealistic way that within Technopark itself the issue of distorted depiction of techie life on screen – not only in serials but on the silver screen too – has become a bit of an issue. It seems to have given rise to many discussions. Many women and women’s groups on campus, especially, have either taken up the issue for discussion or made their objections known about the particular serial. Many other techies have also taken to the cyber world to voice their protest or, at least, set things straight about the lifestyles they lead.

“So many people, especially those with only a rudimentary knowledge about Technopark and IT in general, are getting a very wrong impression about us with such unrealistic portrayals,” says Reshma Thomas, a human resources executive at a company in Technopark and one of the more vociferous online with regards to the issue. “We women work as hard or even harder than our male colleagues and frankly it’s offensive, insulting and degrading too when women are shown on screen having to resort to underhand (read immoral) means just to fulfil our ambitions or move up the career ladder!” she adds. Reshma says that she and the handful of women colleagues have been encouraging each other to express their feelings about the topic at the weekly meetings of their in-house group, Petals.

“It is simply wrong and unfair to caricature career women – and that’s not just techies – in such a distorted way. There is a real risk of us getting labelled in a way that’s derogatory. Actually, it’s more upsetting to our families,” says a senior woman executive. “I’ve been in the IT field for 18 years out of which 10 was at Technopark. I can assure you that it’s a decent work atmosphere where professionalism and meritocracy rules!” she adds.

Then again, techie lifestyles have always been given a rather step-motherly treatment on screen. The techies say that of the handful of Malayalam cinemas that have IT as the background, most of them also show techie lifestyles in an unfavourable light. “With due respect to the master filmmakers who made the movies, they tend to depict IT life as an extension of college life! It’s as if we go to work, then hang around the coffee machine/café for the entire day and in the evenings head to a party! How I wish that was true!” says techie Adarsh C., a project manager with a multi-national company. “In the eight years that I have been in the IT industry, I am yet to see any techie whose lifestyle is like that –not even the trainees. The only thing that we are likely to do after a 14-hour shift – a shift that just about affords a fly-by lunch break in between – is to sleep!”

Actor Nimisha Suresh, who is also a techie, says: “There’s this misconception that just because we are young we are not serious about life. But, unfortunately, that’s the picture that comes through on screen. Playing to the gallery is understandable to an extent because ultimately it is about entertainment. However, there is nothing further from the truth!” Filmmaker Ranjith Sankar of Passenger and Molly Aunty Rocks-fame, himself a techie, agrees. “People tend to think that just because most of us work in air-conditioned, swanky offices and earn comfortable salaries, techies are something special. We are just like any other professionals who hold responsible jobs. On the whole we responsible and hard-working and that rubs off on our personalities too. By its very nature, the IT field requires one to have a well-defined and good personality, where we have to constantly interact with, communicate with and also manage people. But I get why there are a lot of misconceptions out there, IT life can be very difficult field to understand, especially if you are not from it or if you don’t have family members in it,” says Ranjith, whose next film Mayflower is set in the backdrop of IT. “I’ll try to be as realistic as possible,” adds the director.

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