The topic of gender equality has been at the raging forefront in almost every country ever since last year when Hollywood actors stepped up to create the movement #AskHerMore. Along with journalists asking better questions, they also asked for equal representation of women in cinema. Now, a year later, where do we actually stand? Let’s talk about regional cinema: Every time a new film is announced, the lead actor is given more importance than the lead actress. We have seen in cases of Sivakarthikeyan, Suriya, Rajinikanth and many other top actors that their new films always go by the tentative title made up with their initials. For example, currently, the raging topic in Kollywood is Vijay’s next film which has been tentatively called Thalapathy 63. The question here arises as to why a lead actor gets a film named after him but a powerful actress like Nayanthara or Samantha has to go with the ‘yet-to-be-titled’ phenomena?
When asked about the #AskHerMore campaign, popular actress Reese Witherspoon said, "This is a movement to say we're more than just our dresses. It's hard being a woman in Hollywood or in any industry." Several studies have proved that women are cast as a bystander to the hero's timeline, frequently portrayed as a love interest. A quick research on the Internet and you would get loads of data which suggest that women speak lesser than 30% of the dialogues in a film! Take a movie like Sita which stars Kajal Aggarwal. As far as the title and the trailer go, you would think that the story surrounds her, right? Well, the story does surround her but it soon curls up into a plot where all the attention is on the do-gooder Ram trying to “save” Sita. And while we are on this film, why do writers think that in order to show a powerful woman, one should write a character that is angry, moody and power hungry?
Bollywood is not far off in the role of sexism either. A study says that between 2015 and 2017, females were the central characters in 11.9% of Hindi movies released between 2015 and 2017. Back in the 70s, this figure was closer to 7%.
Now, if we come to the technical part of films too, the ratio of female to male directors will be staggeringly low. Again, especially in regional films, we have women like Anjali Menon and Sudha Kongara who are among the famous female directors. But, how many films have they made? 5? 10? The question here again arises as to why a female director or a producer for that matter has less number of films made in a year than a male director? Popular actress Emma Watson said, “I have experienced sexism in that I have been directed by male directors 17 times and only twice by women." That simply means, even in 2019, women are getting lesser opportunities than a man to even make a piece of art!
It is us, at the end of the day who can bring about a change. If we simply choose to not hype films that glorify masculine men or diminish women to roles of speechless characters, then a change can be brought about. Now is the time to change names, think outside the box of Thalapathy63 or Thala60 or SK15. Now is the time to break the notion of publicizing a film as a ‘women-centric’ one, when the woman is eventually sidelined by the male character. If in a year, all the top films can be gender equal, then we win. We can do better, can’t we?Read More