New Age media has repeatedly published articles about the problems with Bollywood. About how movies portray actresses, awards, and the million things that are related to Bollywood and our society. This article comes with the hope of making a difference, however small. It comes from a desire that women everywhere can watch a movie and be entertained instead of being infuriated, disappointed, and judged.
Bollywood, Sexual Assault, and Awards
With awards season coming up, one of the “winning” movies is Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya. As per the plot of the movie, it is about a guy with absolutely no sense of consent. Continually following and harassing his “crush,” who eventually falls in love with them. Movies that talk about women having a say and decision-making powers aren’t rewarded or spoken about, but the country is asked to resonate with a guy harassing women he says is in love with.
This is not a one-time situation, movies such as these are released year after year and people don’t speak up. Male actors have put on a pedestal, not in an account of their skill or dedication, but just for the fact that they have a penis.
Hundreds of trailers are released every year; most focused on the male lead. Movies are concentrated on an accomplished man who falls in love with a “perfect” woman. I say perfect in quotes because of how Bollywood plays a huge role in setting unrealistic standards for women. It is always a fair skinned petite woman who is not interested in the man but gives in to nagging and stalking by the “hero” of the film.
The problems on screen are more evident and visible to the audience, and actresses and in some rare cases actors are speaking up and are actively trying to change them with whatever little industry power they hold. While actors on the top of the field, who have made their careers out of exploitation and sexism, don’t seem to care and continue to put themselves on a higher stage and use the women in their movies only for the colorful songs. The issues that women face day-to-day off screen are left to the imagination. With the rise of the #metoo campaign, industry sexism in Hollywood as more transparent, producers, actors, and directors who held umpteen power are being asked to answer for their mistakes, when will Indian cinema have its #metoo moment?
To support and praise the movement in Hollywood or the Body Positivity movement around the world doesn’t mean that the work is over. For as long as people go around demeaning women, the fight has to stay on. Just this week the Goan Prime Minister spoke about women drinking being a problem. The various taboos surrounding women in India are every long list but as long as we confront people and highlight the hypocrisy, we as a nation will be a democracy.
We Should Call People Out!
Sexism is profoundly inbred into Indian cinema; actresses are sidelined and used as a sexual lure. Women in “item” songs and “kissing scenes” are used as a marketing tool to get judgy, small-minded, men to the theatres. People brush off sexism as a commonality or a necessity of the industry. Karan Johar has an entire show based off on sexist comments and instigations. Times Of India, Times Now, Hindustan Times, Deccan Chronicle, and, Times of India, are only a few newspapers to name, which continue to publish sexist articles, in the name of news.
Times Of India deserves the second mention in the list above not because of their extensive circulation range but for the sheer absurdity of their articles. They single-handedly created a nationwide scandal about an actress’s cleavage. While personally, I think my cleavage is beautiful, and all boobs everywhere deserve the air and freedom. How a woman dresses is her and her choice only. Not only should a national newspaper have no say in a woman’s life. No person should be allowed to put themselves in a position where they “advise” or tell women how to behave, what to wear or any decision that ideally, has to be her own.
On the other end, new-age media has been trying to change this very phenomenon of inherent sexism. The following are links to some articles and videos that will crack you up and motivate you to see movies through a new lens.
About the Author
Vidhatri Pattapu is a feminist and sociology undergraduate student. She is interested in making this world a more equal and safe space for people of every gender, race, ethnicity, and nationality.