Veteran actress Sharmila Tagore feels that male actors are still dominating the film industry and scripts are especially written for them.
The 68-year-old National-award winner said actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Anupam Kher and Naseeruddin Shah are still ruling Bollywood but their female counterparts are lost somewhere as there are no films for these ageing actresses.
"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 an Anupam Kher and Naseeruddin Shah but the same is not true for an ageing actress," said Tagore, who was a part of an event to discuss on 'Representation of Women in Indian Cinema and beyond' at the 19th Justice Sunanda Bhandare Memorial Lecture.
The Kashmir Ki Kali star feels that in today's time portrayal of women in mainstream films is merely 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. "But the mainstream Hindi cinema, which is the dominant film industry in the country, changes are merely cosmetic," she added.
Having started her career as a child actress in Satyajit Ray's 1959 Bengali film Apur Sansar, Tagore recalled that she was asked by her principal to leave the school as would be a bad influence to other girls.
"No women from any strata of society was prepared to work in such a lowly profession," she said. But she feels that her marriage to the legendary cricketer Mansoor Ali Khan changed the perception of media and society towards her. "My marriage exercised the imagination of the media and the public to a great extent. They had obviously brought into the arguments our films prescribed, namely that marriage and career were not compatible. Yet, in my case, the combination of marriage, motherhood and film career did not cause any friction," Tagore said.
The actress feels that women are still not on par with their male counterparts irrespective of the fact that 'women empowerment' is one of the main slogans of every political party. "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 seemingly protected by law...," she added.