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  Entertainment   Bollywood  22 Jul 2017  Cinema alone can’t change the society, says Avinash

Cinema alone can’t change the society, says Avinash

Published : Jul 22, 2017, 1:02 am IST
Updated : Jul 22, 2017, 1:02 am IST

Members of the film frat discuss the influence of films on gender norms and how there has been a bias in representation of women in B’wood.

Alankrita Shrivastava and Jolie Carey (gender expert)  (Photo: Bunny Smith)
 Alankrita Shrivastava and Jolie Carey (gender expert) (Photo: Bunny Smith)

As an audio-visual medium, cinema is believed to be one of the most influential tools in a society. The kind of films we watch tends to have a huge impact on how our thinking and ideology take shape as we grow up. And in times when issues like gender equality is something that India is trying hard to achieve, Bollywood as an industry remains quite below the mark in terms of equal representation of women. 

According to a 2016 report by Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media, in India, though many women are seen on screen, they hardly have any significant parts in movies. The report further states that though this is true across the world, Indian films are yearly at the bottom, with only 25 per cent of speaking parts belonging to women. India sees only 9 per cent female directors, 12 per cent female writers and 15 per cent female producers. These are less than global averages.

Many more such startling figures came to the fore on Thursday evening when Oxfam India, an NGO, organised a panel discussion on influence of films on gender norms. Opining on the issue were Avinash Das, director of Anarkali of Aarah, and Alankrita Shrivastava, director of Lipstick Under My Burkha. 

“Our society is deeply influenced by what Bollywood portrays. Films that depict female characters as second-class citizens, and amplify masculinity in sterotypical macho ways, make girls more accepting of violence in their lives and boys more likely to inflict it. Recent films that have conveyed strong messages on gender issues, have usually done so through the lens of powerful male characters and actors. The low representation of women writers, directors and producers in Indian cinema is correlational to the absence of such strong characters and women-oriented films,” Oxfam India CEO Nisha Agrawal made the opening statement and discussions went on various aspects of the umbrella subject. 

“For too long cinematic storytelling has been controlled by men and moulded by the male gaze. So, the representation of women on screen has suffered. It is important to represent the female point of view in cinema. We must change how women are looked at in cinema,” Alankrita said on the occasion.

On the same page was Avinash who felt all sorts of narratives are important for a balanced society. He said, “Our society is very resistant to ideas of a woman’s sexuality, menstruation and other issues which challenge gender norms. As filmmakers, we often find it difficult to sell such non-conventional ideas but things are improving. However cinema, alone, cannot change the society. It has to be socio-political tools that can bring change and media can mirror the reality.”

Tags: lipstick under my burkha, geena davis institute