Cinema in our part of world (South India) has always been greatly influential over the society. Movies do directly make a change in our society in different ways, and impact individuals' personal lives. Be it the clothes we wear, the way in which we speak, even to our social behavior to some extent. There is no ambiguity as to the entertainment such films provide, but it is often at the cost of women's intelligence and dignity
A factor common to all regional film industries and Bollywood is the unrealistic and stereotyped portrayal of women. It can be argued that women are portrayed in much the same way in all Indian media. That this portrayal is entirely sexist is abundantly clear.
Female characters in Kollywood are more often than not stereotyped as dumb, mindless creatures with only sexual gratification to offer. Objectification of women, as sexual objects is very common in commercial Indian movies. There are countless examples of such stereotypes. The most common stereotype is the Love interest. The lead actress or 'heroine' is almost always portrayed as the Hero's love interest and has precious little to do in the movie beyond pleasing the hero with her beauty and romance. This stereotype is so common that it is not even questioned by many. The heroine is portrayed as an individual with intellect in an ignorable number of films, her ideas and thoughts pertaining to anything other than romance and family are rarely portrayed.
Another characteristic of this stereotype is virginity. The heroine's virginity is placed on a pedestal and her chastity is considered to be a requisite to respecting a woman. The unchaste and brazen women, who are shown to be sexually active, are generally characterized as negative characters, a degradation to women's sexuality.
Usually it is the Villian who gets married to a girl who is at least 20+ years younger to him or he would be living in the same house with more than one woman to show cause how bad he is?? Actually, if we look deep in reality, it goes the same with the heroes too. They too happily sing duets in foreign locales with a girl who is at least 15-20 years younger to him. The directors tend to rope even few girls who are supposed to write their 10th grade exam as the arm CANDY to their ultimate hero. Once in a blue moon, they rope a girl who is 1-2 years elder to their hero, and market it as a huge achievement for promoting their movies
This degradation of women is escalated by the infamous 'Item Songs' of Kollywood (Actually, all the WOODS) which is another very common women's stereotype. Characterization of women as Sexual objects of desire is the objective in many songs. I do not want to pin point the songs here, they were many in the past, and still many more in the making. Another terrible disrespect women suffer is that they are labelled as 'item girls', as the term 'item' is a disrespectful slang referring to a vulgar woman. Perhaps the most worrying aspect to this objectification of women by the Indian film industry is that women are playing a major role in degrading their own feminine spirit, by agreeing to be classified as 'item girls' and consciously playing such roles in movies which require them to act as mere objects of sexual desire and not as intellectual individuals.
It is true that the Indian Cinema has produced few women centric movies in the past, and often someone tend to break all the above barriers to make a honest movie. But would that fare well? NO! A big NO! One could easily break the shackles and start saying, A for Australia, B for Bermuda, C for Canada, and so on. But the rest of the society will look at them weirdly. Same happens with these stereotypes.
Even many of the critically acclaimed movies that portray women as victims of social or sexual abuse, the central woman character is portrayed as needing assistance from men to escape such conditions. Therefore, even such so-called 'women-centric' films are not free from gender stereotypes.
In a deep contrast, movies which have strong male characters as protagonists, celebrate men in the roles of ALPHA gene males who triumph over social and political evils, and achieve their goals independently. This stark contrast delivers a 'message' to the society which essentially declares that women can never be equal to men, either socially, or politically.
Let's not give 50 percent right away. Let's start considering the age old 33 percent war cry from women. It is now or never.
The author Padmanaban.N, a visitor of Indiaglitz has written this article based on his personal opinion. Indiaglitz is not responsible for the views expressed in this article.
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