The medium of cinema helps express the various walks of life through various eras. The transformation of women from saris to mini skirts showcases the change with the times. It articulates the ethnical and cultural values of the society. The upcoming years are making a women’s identity even more prominent overshadowing their lack of power previously. Women currently know the coming of age is a bluff as marriage has become an option and industries are no longer male dominated. In spite of their rise in terms of working women we yet see that there’s a major pay gap in the cinema. This undoubtedly tells us that men are more superior as they are able to earn more for the same role. However, in reality the one’s identity is his skills, qualifications, confidence, creativity etc and they must be judged on the basis of this rather than their gender. In English language also we see that if the gender of an individual is unknown “he” is the generic pronoun used. Women’s identity seems to concealed and lost in the world.
In the olden days, women were judged only on how good she can take care of the house, they were exploited of making choices and working. Feminism movement in India fulfilled their pursuit of women’s right: right to work for equal wages, right to equal access to health and education, and equal political rights. Pioneers like Kalpana Chawla (astronaut), Indira Gandhi (iron lady of India), Laxmibai (Jhansi ki Rani), Mother Teresa and many others have exposed the real talents of a women. Historical practices like Sati had weakened the power of women by stating that after the death of her husband she had no purpose to life. Even many Muslims today are still very conservative when it comes to a girl as they feel insecure when she has not covered her hair. It seems unfair as the boys can wear shorts in the same community and girl has to be fully covered. The Delhi Rape Case and other such cases forced parents to be protective towards their girl child. Even though it’s fault of corrupt men but precautions are taken by women.
Women are portrayed as victims their entire lives. Acid throwing on the body, child marriage and domestic violence have created such a wobbly environment for independent women. Higher education when paid for a girl seems like a burden for most parents but when a boy wants to pursue the same he is given all the liberty. The concept of dowry had made people with daughters to consider it as a load. Dowry used to be all of the savings the family would have to give to see their daughter settled. It had lead to female feticide and infuriated men. In India the sex of babies cannot be revealed due to this reason. Women’s identity seems to be locked up in a cupboard but as times are changing we’re noticing the true colours of a women.
REVIEW OF LITERATURE:There are two predominant emotions of a virtuous Indian women which haven’t changed with time- sacrifice and obedience. The traditional Indian woman seems to live within those parameters. A mother’s strength and power in the household is seen as absolute (THEME 1). Women characters were seen as the epitome of virtue and values, who could never be wrong, their actions were flawless. Even if a women is offered professional space, in the Indian culture it is almost as if she is duty bound to carry out domestic chores (THEME 2). With a rise in share of women attending to domestic duties, they opt out of work as the patriarchal society has expectations of an ideal wife(THEME 2). Instability in households was shown by introducing another women. This dichotomy was reinforced in popular films which distinguished between the ‘heroine and the vamp’, the ‘wife and the other woman’ (THEME 3).
The heroine was always secondary to the hero, character which is central to the script, may be the hero, the villain, the father, the boss, an elderly male figure etc. She is devoid of any independent existence and her journey throughout the film stands in relation to the male character. Films have also been inspired to a large extent from religion and mythology. According to Livemint, “Women who are willing to work aren’t qualified enough (THEME 4)”, this is because they come from the working class background which finds a girl as an expense and boy as an investment. The Economist remarks that, “girls are valued less than boys. The results are catastrophic: millions of female foetuses aborted, and millions more girls than boys who die in childhood (THEME 5), as a consequence either of violence or neglect and malnutrition. ” The major reason the girls are termed as an “expense” is firstly because they have to get married earlier than the boy and secondly, the girl’s parents are required to pay dowry for her marriage (THEME 6). Dowry is a big burden on the earning members of the family. However, now payment of dowry has long been prohibited under specific Indian laws including the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and subsequently by Sections 304B and 498A of the Indian Penal Code. Marriage is no longer a compulsion in coming ages (THEME 7). The growth of Indian cinema has lead to more platforms for filmmakers to earn revenues. Anurag Kashyap briefly mentioned in an interview that, “the current films do not necessarily have to follow stereotypes, they can be artistic and cinematic. ” Indian cinema and women have been much maligned, they have two strands from which one is more progressive and ahead of the value system. All the movies from the 50s up to the late 90s have maintained the status quotient of a women. However, ethical values have changed over time to a large extent too because of premarital sex, adultery, sexual overtures (THEME 8) where the woman takes the initiative are quite common and have also got audience acceptance. Mahesh Bhatt believes that a good story is something you don’t have in your life and you look for it in a film. For example lack of love in life would search for an enduring tale (THEME 9), unfocused and directionless people look for motivation in movies (THEME 10).
Cinema compensates for what you don’t have. We also noticed that movies going against social norms had to face numerous objections from religious organizations and wasn’t allowed to direct it within the country. Filmmaker Deepa Mehta faced various consequences about the same and had to shoot the movie in Srilanka. The movies which explore genres like showing lesbians (THEME 11) having sex, a women wearing raunchy clothes which implies other thoughts in the head of a man (THEME 12)etc have been criticized way too much. After the release of Fire (1996), the journalists were hesitant to utter the words gay or lesbian while taking reviews. The internet is a treacherous place for women, especially for women who like to speak their mind. Recently, Malayalam actor Parvathy received extreme hatred from fans for expressing her thought on a film. These narrow mindsets and sexist people control the expressing capacities of a woman.
The rape cases and acid attacks are majorly happening because men for some reason consider themselves to be superior than women. In the film industry, earlier it was 95% male dominant and currently it’s 80% which is still a very high number. Parallel cinema or the so called “women-oriented” cinema use to find producers and male actors to make Feminist movies. Meghna Gulzar recalls that during her release of the first movie, “every male actor who knew it was a feminist movie had turned down the role”. Apart from popular cinema and parallel cinema there was realistic cinema too. Realistic Cinema takes inspiration for its subjects from real life situations and existing circumstances in the society. The portrayal of women in these movies are not commercial pot-boilers but present a real experience to the audience. Bhandarkar’s films show females as bold and empowered women (THEME 13).
Women can take their own decisions good, bad, ugly or whatever they maybe and assume responsibility for the same. The Bechdel Test is a very intriguing way for evaluating (a)the portrayal of women in fiction. It asks whether a work features (b) at least two women who talk to each other (c) about something other than a man. The ideal film, therefore, should be one that not only checks off (a), (b), and (c), but also exhibits women who are supportive of other women. an indicator for the active presence of women in films and other fiction, and to call attention to gender inequality in fiction. Thus it helps increase the presence and worthiness of women. Women in the end are individuals who must know how to distinguish wrong and right and carry out their lives peacefully.