There's rampant sexism in Bollywood, says Dia Mirza

'People were writing, thinking and making sexist cinema and I was a part of these stories,' the actor shared

Entertainment Desk May 11, 2021

Dia Mirza is reflecting upon her journey of over two decades in the Indian film industry. The former Miss Asia Pacific started her Bollywood career with R Madhavan's romantic comedy, Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein, at the age of 19. Since then, the actor went on to deliver more misses than hits. As of late, Mirza made headlines for her second marriage, followed by pregnancy. 

It's been a long road and the actor shared how she had no one else to depend on but herself while making decisions in the film industry. Talking about the same to Brut India, the Dus actor commented, "I had no mentor and no one who could guide me, who could help me understand how to go about consolidating my choices or even making the right choices. I completely and solely depended on instinct and my managers at the time."

She went on to add, "So at the age of 19-20, I had to understand how to deal with this crazy public attention, adulation and rejection."

The Indian film industry is touted to be one of the most controversial ones to have existed. Let it be nepotism, drug abuse, pay parity or favouritism, Bollywood has seen the worst of it. One of the topics, Mirza wished to shed light upon was the bandwagoning of certain journalists against actors. 

"When film reviews were written, they used to be very personal and the attacks also used to be very, very personal. They would actually border on vicious and those would be very hard to deal with," she said. "This is before the advent of social media. I genuinely mean it when I say that the vitriol that was spewed by certain journalists and film journalists in print and in the media about actors was so dangerous. It continues, but it was really rampant when I had started out."

Mirza also shared how the pre-social media era was more troublesome for the artists as they didn't really have a platform to clarify the ongoing rumours. She added how they had to deal with such news in their own homes and personal spaces rather than speaking out. "Between the ages of 19-25, every film I did, it was said that I had an affair with my co-actor, my director or my producer," she recalled. 

The actor also opened up about sexism in Bollywood. "People were writing, thinking and making sexist cinema and I was a part of these stories... Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein has sexism in it... I was acting with these people. I was working with these people. It's crazy," she said, adding, "I will give you small examples. A makeup artist could only be a man, could not be a woman. A hairdresser only had to be a woman. When I started working in films there were at best about four or five women on any given crew with a unit strength of over 120, sometimes 180 people."

"We live in a patriarchal society and it is an industry largely led by men. So there is rampant sexism. And I think for a large part it is not even conscious sexism because there are so many men who are writers, who are directors, who are actors, who are not even aware of their sexist thinking," she added.

Earlier, Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor, too, shared her take on sexism in Bollywood. In 2020, the actor said that the women of the film industry need to rally together and turn down films and projects that are sexist.

“Look at the way song lyrics or scripts are written about women... that needs to change. The way women are portrayed and talked about in the industry is not okay, and as women, we should not agree to work in those films because we are just harming ourselves. There is no price too high, especially considering all that has happened over this year... Each one of us needs to make better choices, or we will be subjected to a witch-hunt and we will be burnt at the stake!” she said.

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