Of Course Bollywood Is Feminist, But Conditions Apply!

Posted: September 27, 2017

An industry where sexism, casting couch, objectification of women is rampant, feminism is reduced to mere tokenism in Bollywood. #WomenOnTheMove

Bollywood — the Mecca of the Indian film industry and the holy grail for all aspiring actors who dream of making it big on the silver screen one day. The name, fame and money this prolific and culturally influential industry brings, lures many to the City of Dreams, Mumbai. But as it is said — all that shines is not gold — everything is not hunky dory under the blinding shine.

It is well known that Bollywood does not have a stellar reputation when it comes to treating its women well. From the casting couch saga to gender pay gap to objectification of women to masquerading stalking as a way of expressing love, Bollywood is the epitome of sexism, patriarchy and misogynist mindset.

So, is everything wrong with Bollywood? One might argue that ‘sometimes’ we do have movies that are not sexist, movies that are “women oriented”! Fair enough! Yes, we sometimes do have movies that do not pass off stalking as love or movies that have a strong woman lead or movies that have stories that highlight the social evils, say movies like PINK!

See this? This tweet shows exactly what is wrong with the film industry. A movie that was all about women empowerment, does not feature even a single female lead (mind you there were three) when the tweet was sent out marking 1 year of PINK. The appreciation, the limelight and the applause was hijacked by men, reducing the cause to mere tokenism.

No place for feminism in Bollywood. Why?

Hmm. Let’s take a closer look at what Feminism means in Bollywood. Every year Bollywood dishes out approximately 1000 movies. And the percentage of non-sexist, women empowering movies probably would make a measly 1%. Ask why?

People see what they want to see — reinforcement of their beliefs

Plug in some ‘Item Numbers’ and the movie is a hit!

I mean are we even surprised! We live in a country where on one hand it boasts of worshipping women and on the other reduces its women to mere objects of sexual fantasies for men. Sexual innuendos used in the songs like “Tandoori Chicken” or “achi baat kar ki bahut, ab karenge gandi baat” perpetuate violence against women in a big way. One might argue that we cannot blame Bollywood or the film industry solely for the rise in crimes against women. But can we deny the kind of mass influence Bollywood commands? And then we have arm chair conversations and television debates on why violence against women is on the rise!

Actors rarely identify themselves as feminists

We have had a few recently, but in general identifying as a feminist is a no-go zone for actors. Of course Bollywood is all for feminism when a movie is set for release (Remember the surge in letters to daughter and grand-daughters)!

There’s no denying that Bollywood has mass influence, both within and outside the country. Although a small number, but we have had movies that have broken the silence around social evils. Here are some of the favorites:

 

Image: You Tube

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