Cinema, the media which showcases our society and also doubles up as an entertainment to people across our country, should watch out for what and how it describes a piece as entertainment. For years, we have had full-fledged misogyny in our films wherein women have been represented as objects and the men are glorified showing the kind of partiality that exists between the representation of men and women characters in cinema. Recently, when actor Parvathy Menon, speaking at a discussion, which also saw the formation of the ‘Women In Cinema’ Collective, quoted a movie acted by Mammootty which glorifies a powerful man abusing women, it became a food for thought. It also turned into a controversy since it involves two well-known actors in the malayalam film industry. The scenario though calls for some debate regarding the partiality meted out to women in the film industry. Also why is it wrong for a woman to question the way the film industry works?
How Does Misogyny Matter
Since its very beginnings, Indian cinema has had a lot of movies showcasing men as the real heroes whereas the women are just shown as pretty faces with just a few song and dance routines. Of course there have also been exceptional cinema where the true nature of society have been depicted in the form of art cinema. But if we look at the number of films being churned out by our industry every year, there are more films which focus on the heroics of the male character rather than films which showcase the real dynamics that exist in the society. While cinema is largely a medium of entertainment, it has a huge impact on the thinking of the society. Most of the times, depictions on screen influence people’s thinking forcing them to get aware about various prevalent conditions in the society. Case in point, if we take the example of the movie, Taare Zameen Par, it shows the various challenges that a dyslexic child faces in his daily life. This movie has made parents aware of dyslexia, a condition hitherto unknown and made them more sympathetic to children who have the same condition.
Similarly if movies most of the time focus on male characters, then it will also create the same mindset in the society that, men should be given more power and control over women. The actress in question, herself accepts that she has been in an abusive relationship misinterpreting it as real love, the way it is depicted in films. The movie which brought about all this controversy, has already been questioned for its depiction of women, ever since its been released. So, why is it a problem when an actress questions the same movie in an open forum?
Simple Quotes Turn Into Full-On Controversy
The issue is that the actress, Parvathy Menon has questioned the workings of the male-dominated industry. Referring to the movie she watched recently, she had said that Kasaba as a movie disappointed her since an actor par excellence was seen mouthing dialogues to a woman which was not just derogatory, but saddening. She further added that people in cinema really need to question whether such a character needs to be glorified or not. This has led to a volley of abuses being hurled against her, from Mammootty fans, calling her a cheap feminist.
The topic was discussed as part of a question ‘How fair or unfair has cinema been to women in the last 125 years?’ which brought out a lot of perspectives from women in the industry. Geetu Mohandas, an actress and director also agreed with the views placed by Parvathy at the forum and further added that fairness can only be guaranteed by the opportunities made available equally to men and women in the industry. Many other women from the entertainment industry have come out in support of Parvathy, who has been open enough to discuss her opinion on a forum which was meant for such discussions. This need not be considered as an insult to the veteran actor who portrayed the role, rather it should be taken in the right sense and a healthy debate could have resulted in better results than the unwanted controversy.
What Reforms Await The Male Dominated Industry
The formation of ‘Women in Cinema’ collective by the actresses in the malayalam film industry seems to be a step in the right direction. For the first time in the history of Indian cinema such a collective has been formed which is garnering appreciation not only from the malayalam industry, but other industries as well. While such an association is necessary, it is not easy to implement and make it functional, since most actresses prefer not to talk about the injustice meted out to them, for fear of losing their career.
Isn’t it high time that such discussions are taken in the right sense, and mulled upon for a healthy debate, rather than turning it into a matter of trolling each other? The men in the industry should be open enough to graciously accept the point of view of women, and work together to make better cinema, while keeping in mind the entertainment quotient. The people from the industry must act more mature and become role models for the common people to follow suit. After all, cinema is a powerful medium, to showcase and influence the society. Let us hope the film industry churns out better scripts, provide better opportunities to women so that such associations would hardly be required in the future. For now, let us admire the courage of these actresses who are bold enough to open up and come in support of their counterparts in other industries.