More power to women

Vidya Balan elated to see reduction in gender-specific objectification on the screen.

Ians July 20, 2015
Since her debut with Parineeta, Vidya has proven her versatility with films, such as Kahaani and No One Killed Jessica. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

NEW DELHI: For years, there have been item songs galore with double entendre lyrics and cameras capturing actress’ curves. But National Award-winning actress Vidya Balan says the scenario has changed, and actresses, at least in India, are in a position to avoid being objectified on screen anymore.“Time has absolutely changed,” said Vidya, when asked about her take on the objectification of women in Bollywood.

“I have seen this change for the past five to six years when I started doing films like Ishqiya or No One Killed Jessica. I personally believe that women are not willing to be objectified on screen anymore ... they feel that they can object to being objectified. That’s why there is not much on-screen objectification of women anymore,” she added.

Having made her cinematic debut in 2005 with Parineeta, an adaptation of a 1914 eponymous Bengali novel, Vidya has proved her versatility — whether it was the manipulative Krishna of Ishqiya; the strong-willed Sabrina in No One Killed Jessica, Vidya Bagchi, a woman with a vegeance in Kahaani, an unwed mother in Paa; and the bolder than the boldest Silk in The Dirty Picture.

Her last released film was Mohit Suri’s Hamari Adhuri Kahani in which she played a married woman, also a victim of domestic violence.

“If I talk about domestic violence, I never understood it. I have been brought up in an environment of freedom and independence and I cannot understand why anyone can keep quiet when they are abused, especially a grown-up woman. So for this role, I had to first mentally prepare myself to accept these things.

“I had to realise that it’s not just about domestic violence, but believing that you are actually your husband’s property and this attitude is quite prevalent amongst us Indians,” said Vidya, who in real life, is a happily married woman.

She also feels that that one way of getting rid of crime against women is by becoming “economically independent.”

“Money is power and there are a lot of times women face issues because they are not economically independent. So, economic independence gives you freedom of choice. Also education is what makes a difference,” said the actress, who also feels that we are not living in a “progressive society in absolute sense”.

“There are pockets that are progressive and they have education, awareness and opportunities, but there are parallel realities. We entrust the power of our lives to them [men]. They began to abuse that power in a lot of ways and this is the reason why even educated men feel that they have the right to do anything with women”. 

Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st,  2015.

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