Is it possible for Bollywood to seek solutions to problems the industry is facing, without including women’s point of view? Though it may seem outlandish, during a recent high-profile discussion on the industry and its contribution to the nation’s economy, Bollywood women remained unrepresented. According to a report in DNA, leading filmmakers and producers, like, Ritesh Sidhwani, Rajkumar Hirani, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Aanand L Rai, and Mahaveer Jain along with Aamir Khan, paid a visit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The agenda was to discuss the status of the industry and the day-to-day issues faced by the people involved.
Aamir and other male representatives from Bollywood met PM Modi to discuss issues plaguing the industry. The manel was very successful and the lack of female representation was not noticeable. pic.twitter.com/Ec6UAJHmL5
— Shilpa Rathnam (@shilparathnam) October 26, 2018
However, it is amusing that these “representatives” couldn’t find a single woman worthy enough to accompany them to the discussion. Especially when Bollywood, as an industry, is dealing with a plethora of allegations regarding sexual misconduct by its powerful men. Was this agenda not important enough for these men, to consider including a female representative? This Bollywood manel yet again proves how bro-culture works in Bollywood. Despite women directors, actors and producers being an integral part of the industry, they get conveniently sidelined during such conversations. Or were these men simply afraid that #MeToo would have overtaken the agenda, if they dared to include a woman in their squad?
The ignorance of these men is disheartening. How did it not cross their mind that no woman was accompanying them to this meeting?
Are the likes of Ekta Kapoor, Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, Gauri Shinde, Konkona Sen Sharma not worthy enough to be in this team? These women, and many more, have achieved box office success, made critically acclaimed films and contributed significantly to the industry. But it seems, their work isn’t relevant enough for these men. Whether this oversight is deliberate or not, is something we can only speculate.
- A number of high-profile people from Bollywood recently paid a visit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss and seek solutions for problems concerning the industry.
- Not a single woman was part of this group, leaving a substantial section of industry workers unrepresented.
- Perhaps the problems that women face in the industry, which are very grave, are just not a priority for these men.
- How can we trust that these men actually have these issues on their minds, when they do not even bother to include a woman to this meeting?
Perhaps the problems that women face in the industry, which are grave, are just not a priority for these men. There is no other way of justifying the lack of female representation here. It is demoralising because if women do not find representation, their voices go unheard.
We are in an age when people with power need to make a conscious choice to be inclusive. It is these choices which grip women by hand and pull them on an equal pedestal. This means consciously avoiding manels. This means consciously including women and putting the spotlight on their ideas and concerns. Women play a substantial part in Bollywood’s contribution towards nation building. Similarly, any solutions the industry seeks will be incomplete, if it is not inclusive of women. The only way to keep that from happening is to let women be solution seekers. Unless bigwigs in Bollywood acknowledge women’s contribution and problems, no solution they seek will be wholesome.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.