Although women-centric films like Arth and Kahaani highlight that Bollywood has begun to move away from gender bias, veteran actor Sharmila Tagore feels that male actors still continue to dominate the industry.
According to the Times of India, Tagore said that while films are still tailor-made for actors like Amitabh Bachchan and Anupam Kher, there are hardly any scripts that cater to ageing female actors. “It is not uncommon to see heroes in their late forties romancing women just out of their teens, but the opposite is rarely the case. Scripts are specially written for an Amitabh Bachchan or even Anupam Kher and Naseeruddin Shah but the same is not true for an ageing actress,” she said, while attending a discussion titled the ‘Representation of Women in Indian Cinema and Beyond.’
The actor, who was last seen playing a mother to actor Deepika Padukone in Break Ke Baad, also highlighted that Indian movies tend to superficially sell a woman’s image as rather cosmetic. “Films continue to brandish an image of women which is largely decorative and secondary. Of course, there are expectations as parallel cinema and some regional cinema present women in an entirely different, more equal and realistic light,” she said. “But in the mainstream Hindi cinema, which is the dominant film industry in the country, changes are merely cosmetic.”
Tagore also stressed on the fact that though most political parties advocate female empowerment, Indian women still fall way behind men. “Today, women’s empowerment is a government slogan; it is a feature of every party manifesto. Yet in the second decade of 21st century, Indian women aren’t seemingly protected by law,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2013.
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