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While most major actors make all the right noises in favour of women's rights, everyday sexism and misogyny in Bollywood is rampant, as is the view of women primarily as sex objects.
While most major actors make all the right noises in favour of women’s rights, everyday sexism and misogyny in Bollywood is rampant, as is the view of women primarily as sex objects.
There was this much-talked about movie Batti Gul Meter Chalu with Shraddha Kapoor, Yami Gautam and Shahid Kapoor in lead roles whose trailer (and the movie itself) was released sometime last year. The movie is built around the red tape of bureaucracy and babudom in the electrical department in the state of Uttarakhand. You may be wondering why I am talking about this movie in the context of misogyny. Here comes the answer.
The trailer begins with fun and moves on to the serious issue of electrical theft and at the end of the trailer it shows a scene where Yami Gautam and Shahid Kapoor both dressed up as lawyers in opposition to each other in a courtroom. Yami says “Let’s talk about facts and figures” to which Shahid replies. “I am clear with my facts but how can I talk about figure while you in front” in a very sheepish and ambiguous way which obviously points towards the well-toned body of the actress whom Shahid’s character is trying to humiliate; that’s the place where my analysis began with misogyny and sexism centre stage.
Bollywood has been the pivot around which the character of our society has been built. In case you found this statement dubious, just track the journey of the films that were made and the way they have influenced society in terms of fashion, dressing, language, interiors or even culture, and you will definitely find a synchronisation between the two.
Bollywood has always been phallocentric – promoting ideas and values as viewed from the male perspective; it is in this context that a woman no matter what her profession is, is always characterised in terms of her sex appeal to a man. The scene quoted above is only an example.
The particular male gaze that dominates Bollywood objectifies a woman’s body and perpetuates gender stereotypical images and message. It influences and reinforces our way of thinking at different levels. Mass media affects people at large and when media that influences people’s lives to such an extent offers daily doses of sexism and misogyny, it only increases the gravity of the problems that our country faces.
The horrors of increasing rape incidents in every nook and corner of the country now plague children’s shelter homes too – clearly, little girls too are perceived as a means of satisfying the man’s libido. I do not mean to suggest that it is only Bollywood which promote sexism and misogyny in society but it is definitely one of the agents that is responsible for everyday sexism and it also tends to normalize it.
While many a time we have seen Bollywood celebrities criticising rape incidents on social media they fail to put their words into action when they get the chance to do so through their cinematic work. The short-comings of Bollywood in being insensitive on the matter of gender equality, gender sensitisation and gender parity is visible in the cinematic work they produce, the dialogues that are written and spoken and the characterisation and representation of women on screen.
Going beyond these stereotype will not only change the narratives but will also help in dismantling the regressive notions against women prevailing in Indian society.
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"There is a story and a vision which makes us gravitate towards cinema. Even as we worked as assistants on ads, we realised that cinema was our true calling," say Gunpreet Kaur Mann and Deepali Singh Raseen.
The Railway Men. Mili. Cuttputli. The Diplomat. Bade Miyan Chote Miyan. And more…
Let me introduce to you the talented designer duo who have worked on these, and can be considered today’s upcoming costume designers for the screen. Gunpreet Kaur Mann and Deepali Singh.
Having studied at NIFT, Gunpreet Kaur Mann sent her portfolio out to several designers. Her first gig was as an assistant stylist with Manoshi and Rushi, who also happen to be a designer duo. She worked on an ad film starring Saif Ali Khan and eventually landed a full time job with designer Vikram Phadnis. Years of experience as assistant costume designer followed, which eventually led her to getting a break.
A ‘thank you’ makes a lot of difference in the way any woman in your life sees herself in your eyes. It might even mean the world to her.
I have not received any appreciation in the past. Probably never will. This is the experience of ample women across the globe. The expectation to be thanked for all the sacrifices she makes to keep others happy has faded. Yet the urge to hear few words of acknowledgement always lingers.
There is never a day when she pushes off her own burdens. She knows not to give up on people she loves. Women in general, are givers by nature and hence, give without asking anything in return. They have been the care givers and lovers since centuries however receive no appreciation.
It will mean the world to your mother if you answer her calls. If your sister seems lost give her a hug and assure her about her strengths. Tomorrow, there might come a day when you would have to make your daughter feel empowered with few words of wisdom every now and then. For the children to feel wanted and loved, you must be able to spare some quality time with your wife and be present in the moment.
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