The first step in solving a problem is recognising there is one. The film fraternity across India have refused to acknowledge the contribution of the film industry to society’s patriarch culture that invariably influences sex and physical violence against women. And actor Prithviraj has taken a right step in the right direction by admitting that he did indulge in his own share of onscreen misogyny even as he vowed not to entertain scenes and dialogues in his films that disrespect women in future.
It takes a big man to admitted to one’s mistakes that he probably did to pander to the masses to become commercially successful. But, there is a significant size of filmmakers and actors in the south Indian film industry, who have consistently shown a blatant disregard for women on the big screen, irrespective of the fact that they impact how most of the men, at least tens of hundreds of their fans, perceive women in the society.
Malayalam superstar Mammootty, last Sunday, was at the protest meet in Kochi to condemn the assault on a popular south Indian actress. But, wind back the clock a year, he was facing the wrath of the women’s commission for doing a film called Kasaba that was reeking of male chauvinism.
A particular scene in the film had caused a widespread public outcry, where Mammootty’s character grabs an IPS women officer by her waist-belt and warns her that he was capable of making her miss her menstrual cycle. The dialogue made his fans burst into claps and whistles and the film was a box office hit. But, it was an assault on the senses of decent persons.
It was not the first time that the three-time National Award winning actor has spread the ideology of male sex being way superior to female sex, and the view that it was a man’s birthright to control women. One may argue that an actor’s onscreen actions may not reflect his real-life views. Well, that is called hypocrisy. The actors cannot go on promoting the wrong ideas about masculinity in their films and say otherwise at press meets.
Not long ago, actor Dileep was ridiculed for blatantly advertising a misguided belief during his marriage to actor Kavya Madhavan. He said that he did not marry Kavya because he wanted to, it was because she was made a scapegoat by the media by linking her to him. There, it shows the superiority mindset of a man who thinks a woman can’t survive without his help.
In India, about 99 percent of the films are about hero worshiping that puts women several stations below the leading men. A women-centric film rarely draws a large group of audience to the theatres. While it is not fair to blame film industry entirely, it is high time that the heroes, who are worshipped as demi gods, accept the fact that they make a significant contribution to the thriving rape culture and growing violence against women in the country.