The Hindi film industry, right from its very inception has been misogynistic and has sexualised women. Bollywood glorifies homely or ‘sanskaari’. Women deserve better portrayal and it is time Bollywood shunned these stereotypes.
Gal Gadot’s character, Diana in Wonder Woman made me feel so powerful, that my words wouldn’t be able to do justice to describe the feeling. I cried while watching ‘Wonder Woman’, with tears of joy rolling down my cheeks. No, Diana wasn’t the hero’s love interest. She was the female lead in a film directed by Patty Jenkins, a woman. She fought for herself and for others and defended her values and principles. Men around her didn’t feel intimidated. The film got over 50% female audiences in movie theatres, an achievement for the superhero world, which generally appeals to the young and male audience.
Let’s talk about the Hindi film industry where women through the ages have been shown as weak and passive. They are made to have an identity by virtue of their association with male characters. The directors show women wearing skimpy clothes in the dance numbers and use derogatory language against women. Women’s bodies are reduced to tools for control and domination. Women are given significantly shorter, less relevant roles and speak fewer words in films. It is quite obvious that women, even in the leading roles are replaceable; their presence on the screen doesn’t leave much of an impact or doesn’t take the story forward.
Bollywood has also been successful in normalizing stalking. Men in real life get inspired and keep on pestering and harassing women who reject them. They do not understand the word ‘No’ and believe that a woman who has rejected them is actually just playing hard to get. When they are unable to deal with said rejection, they decide to teach her ‘a lesson’, something that contributes to the revenge centric mentality that is on the rise. One might also notice how young women are always paired with much older men. Aged women are never given substantial roles to play in films. All women characters talk about in the films are about their boyfriends, husbands and how their lives revolve around them. Bollywood has also set absurdly high, unrealistic standards for women in terms of having an ideal body which is desirable to men. How a woman should look, dress and behave is also dictated by them.
This does not mean that film or art needs to curtain or portray women unrealistically. However, the portrayal of “real women” is extremely important. We need women who are architects, engineers and doctors, women who have careers and a life outside nurturing other men and doing emotional labour for them. We need women who defy the stereotypes and do exactly the same things as men do, except for harassing others. We need women who are in charge of their own lives and do not let others define their life choices for them. The Dirty Picture, Anarkali of Aarah, Lipstick under my Burkha and Pink changed the perception that women-centric films do not perform well at the box office. They brought the spotlight on women and how powerful and courageous they can be. It’s time that the rest of Bollywood follows suit.
Feature Image Credits – Forbes