‘Where are the women’: All-male Bollywood delegation’s meet with Narendra Modi draws flak
The meeting of a delegation of the Hindi film industry with Prime Minister Narendra Modi came under fire on Wednesday for its exclusion of female representation with some activists and filmmakers pointing out that it was 2018 and asking, “Where are the women?”
On Tuesday, an 18-member panel, including Karan Johar, Ajay Devgn, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Akshay Kumar, Ritesh Sidhwani and CBFC chief Prasoon Joshi, met the prime minister to discuss how to take the entertainment industry to the next stage.
No woman was part of the “manel” representing an industry where women play a pivotal role not just as actors but also as directors, producers and writers, a female producer said.
It was a year when skewed gender politics in the workplace, including in the entertainment industry, became a topic of heated debate with India being hit by its own #MeToo tsunami that swept away some big names, she said asking not to be named. “Where are the women of the industry?” tweeted #MeToo India’s Twitter handle.
Director Leena Yadav, whose latest film “Rajma Chawal” has just released on Netflix, said it is sad that female voices are being ignored, especially when the ticket window has been tremendously responsive to women directors.
“They are ignoring what is happening at the box office vis-a-vis women directors and their films and ignoring them is sad and it is not only sad but being very unaware in today’s world and regressive in today’s world. So that is really sad,” Yadav told PTI.
But the filmmaker, who has earlier made “Shabd” and “Parched”, said she refuses to feel sorry for herself or sidelined. “I can feel offended by it but it doesn’t affect me to that level as it does not wipe out my existence. I feel sorry for them rather than for myself,” she said.
Alankrita Shrivastava of “Lipstick Under My Burkha”, which was well received by critics and audiences, also spoke out. “Would be great to have female representation in these delegations. It is 2018,” she wrote on Twitter.
Producer Guneet Monga, whose short film “Period. End of Sentence” has made it to Oscar 2019’s list of 10 films, said it would have been wonderful to see some women on the panel.
“It is great that they have met the PM and I am sure it is going to advance the industry. But it would have been wonderful if there were women (in the meeting),” Monga told PTI.
“I don’t know when this was planned. I don’t feel sad about it, I feel great that industry people met PM. I hope GST reform happens and I hope it all benefits the industry. It will be great to have women representation (though),” she said.
Monga is the producer of big titles such as “The Lunchbox” and “Masaan”. Another woman producer said on condition of anonymity that it would have been nice to have women but the meeting was initiated by the government and the all-male representation was an accident, not choice.
“It is not that they put together a forum that did not include women... rather lot of women today are active in the decision making and the growth of the industry in the Producers’ Guild. “It would have been nice to have a female representation. I am hoping there is another time when women will be represented,” she added.
A delegation, which met the prime minister on October 24, had no women either. Sidhwani and Johar, who met Modi in October as well, took to Twitter to thank him for lending them a patient ear.
Johar shared his photo with Modi and wrote, “It was enlightening to hear the honourable Prime Minister @narendramodi share his views on our Industry’s soft power status and the strength of our cinema... he gave our media and entertainment representatives a patient and solid hearing... thank you Sir!!”
Producer Ritesh Sidhwani, who had led an earlier panel for a meeting with the prime minister in October, said it was for the first time that a PM of India had “interacted with a delegation of the film industry”. Others also wrote on the meeting.
“Heartfelt thank you to the honorable Prime Minister @narendramodi ji for taking out time to hear us at length, discuss issues pertaining to our industry and assuring positive consideration of suggestions,” Akshay said.