Films such as Dangal, Dear Zindagi, Pink, Kahaani 2, and Neerja gave women a voice in Hindi films. Moving away from love triangles and family feuds, script writers and directors are now engaging with better stories. But it’s a long road to becoming a gender-neutral industry.
It’s these ideas that panelists explored at the FICCI Frames Convention on Tuesday in Mumbai. At one of Asia’s largest business conclaves for media and entertainment (M & E), the topic “The Woman is The Big Story — Breaking the Glass Ceiling of Misogyny in Indian M & E” had director Imtiaz Ali as the moderator. Panelists included author Geraldine Forbes; actors Tannishtha Chatterjee and Richa Chadha; actor and former National Secretary, BJP, and Member CBFC, Vani Tripathi Tikoo; COO Viacom18 Motion Pictures, Ajit Andhare; and COO BTVi, Monica Tata. The three-day convention, which ends today, has leaders from M&E talking about censorship, digital entertainment, cross-cultural collaborations, National IPR policy, and the grammar of TV.
“The dominant narrative of women will only change through pop culture,” said Chatterjee. “It’s not about telling a boy or a girl how to behave, but rather about effortless storytelling that allows people to accept characters equally effortlessly.” Chatterjee gave the example of Sairat, a movie that did not have stereotypical representations of gender. “People fell in love with Sairat and its characters,” she said.
Andhare spoke of how his company believed early on that heroism could come from a hero as well as a heroine. However, he confessed he faced difficulties in selling films that have strong female protagonists. “If I’m talking to a distributor who is sitting in the heartland of UP, a film with a male lead is a much easier sell than one with a female lead. But I do see this bias slowly starting to chip away.”
Tikoo noted that one of the biggest mistakes in discussion around women is that men are kept out. “We need to collaborate with men,” she said. “After all, they control the politics.”
FICCI Frames closes today with Ronnie Screwvala, Founder Trustee, Swades Foundation, Unilazer Ventures and Raghav Bahl, Founder, Quintillion Media Pvt Ltd, in discussion with Sudhanshu Vats, CEO, Viacom 18, about the road ahead for M & E, which needs to be mapped with caution and wisdom.