For ages, Indian cinema has reflected what happens in our society. As a country that is also heavily influenced by cinema, society also imbibes a lot from the narratives shown on the silver screen.
We all idealise fictional characters and try to mimic what they do in front of the camera. When the hero performs dangerous stunts, the audience gets a warning. The audience is conscious of the fact that jumping from one building to another is not something really practical and responsible without a harness or an entire film crew to take care of every little hiccup. But what about the actions of the fictional characters that conform to our biases?
Raging Misogyny In Bollywood Films:
When the male protagonist, otherwise glorified for his persona and ‘great’ qualities, is seen being abusive towards his female co-star, he still remains the hero. That is because in our society, most men also have the same mentality. Most men also treat the women in their life like women were born to serve men. The society also lets such men off the hook by accepting that this is how men are, this is how men will behave.
Suggested Reading: “Mard Aurat Ka Bhagwan Hota Hai” And Other Sexist Dialogues From Hindi Films
Can the fault be on cinema for showing a man who can be easily found anywhere in this country? Be it the high towers or shanties. Yes, because we have to admit that cinema has the power to bring about change but it cannot be the only driving force. Since society and cinema both try to mirror each other, the change has to be seen on both ends. However, to reflect the reality is one thing but to celebrate it is another.
Films which glorify toxic masculinity such as Dabangg, Kabir Singh and thousands other enable the problematic behaviours of people in our society. Can the filmmakers decide to not gain profits from the dark, abusive and seriously misogynist commercial films? There is a reason why so many films show women dancing in the middle of a bar, with camera lens focused on her chest, her belly, her neckline.
It is not enough for movies to have proper female representation. To make movies really balanced in terms of gender, there need to be more awareness and real efforts. SheThePeople asked Bollywood film producer Siddharth Roy Kapur about how important is gender-balance in films he chooses to do. He said, “I’m working with women filmmakers all the time, there are women on our crew, they provide a perspective that’s you know a balance to our main perspective which is great but thankfully for me it’s not something I really even need to think about or make an effort to do. ”
Kapur added, “I just pick the best person for the job and if that person happens to be a woman or if it happens to be a man, that’s fine and I think that’s the best way to do it and I think the more that you can be blinded to gender therefore just pick the best person to tell a story that you want to tell. At least that works best for me because then it feels more authentic, it feels more sort of organic and you know it doesn’t feel like you’re trying to make a point, it happens naturally. ” He also said that it makes for better storytelling when the ratio of men and women behind the camera and in front of the camera is balanced. And we agree.
But here’s what often triggers a debate. Siddharth Roy Kapur does not feel that the onus of change should be on entertainment. “You can’t bring them in for what they feel might be a lecture, you got to bring them in with a promise of being entertained and in the cost of that if you’re able to open their eyes to something, that’s great.”
He feels that the entertainment industry cannot purely educate people, it can only promise entertainment. The producer of the series Rocket Boys said that people who do not want to “do the hard work of changing the society find it much easier to say that movies should change.”
Could that be a chicken and egg situation? And if so, then who goes first?
“I mean the effort needs to go into building a more inclusive and just society and that will then reflect in the choices that that society makes about content they want to consume and that will then inform filmmakers about the changes that have happened and entertainment will naturally change as a consequence of that.”