As outrage over the gangrape builds, people are asking why women are big targets for crime. Factors like popular culture go into creating mindsets, and cinema is the most influential popular culture medium in India.
So we asked Bollywood the question above.
“Even if films objectify women on some level, monstrous acts of such kind cannot be the result of just that. Only a sick mind can breach all levels of humanity… The problem is not how women dress, look or speak in films, but the mind of the man who sees them as a piece of flesh. Even in the west, women dress to be desirable, but the difference is that the men there are not seeing them as sexual objects… If a man can show off his six-pack abs to appear more desirable, why can’t we wear a bikini?”
Karan Johar, filmmaker: “Bollywood has also glorified women in the highest possible manner through characters like Mother India and Anarkali. Why don’t people take inspiration from those movies and portrayals? Why is it that only the negative gets highlighted?”
Ekta Kapoor, filmmaker: “If films have contributed to this, then by now, everyone should have become a rapist. It all depends on the upbringing of a person. Also, as an industry, we have always been the first ones to hit out at such things personally and through our work.”
Mahesh Bhatt, filmmaker: “More than film, I think this question needs to be answered by the ad world that uses females to sell everything from water coolers to deodorants. They should be questioned. Women have always been used as objects of desire…”
Kalki Koechlin, actor: “Our films often portray the ideal woman as perfect cooks and virginal beauties. And for sexual relief we are served the ‘item’ girl, shown as property bought to entertain and satisfy men’s sexual urges… Where is the woman who goes to work, shares a place with her boyfriend, takes public transport and goes for a drink on the weekend? On screen, the ‘modern’ girl has a chauffeur driven car and the ‘conservative’ girl is so poor and pious that she doesn’t need anything but a man as answers to her prayers…”
Farhan Akhtar, filmmaker/actor: “There was a time when romance was pristine between the hero and the heroine. Today, there are many films where it looks like the hero is stalking the heroine to win her affection. And audiences are cheering for it, thinking that’s the best way to do it. We have thought very seriously about how we can go about changing the portrayal of women (in Bollywood). And I am sure this (change) will happen and we want to play a major role in it.”
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