Malayalam actor Rima Kallingal, one of the founding members of the Women in Cinema Collective, recently gave a talk at TedX in Thiruvananthapuram, where she questioned the ingrained patriarchy that women grow up with. It starts as early as they are born and has a lasting impact on their lives. She questioned this internalised misogyny in Malayalam films as well and raised valid questions as to why the female actors are treated as props in a movie.
While the male actors are given all the opportunities to explore their craft as an artist, female actors are assumed to have a limited shelf life which is affected by the decisions they make in their personal lives. Be it getting married, divorced or having babies, these are factors that affect their career and not because they perform any less, but because the content makers assume that they will not perceived the same way as they were before. While Rima applauds and feels glad about the opportunities that are given to male actors, she questions why the female actors aren’t given as many opportunities.
In her talk, Rima also raises the case of the Malayalam actress who was molested in February 2017 and the way the film industry reacted on it. She points out that in the movies, women are not given the meatier parts, “is life imitating art or art imitating life? Either way, we have a problem,” she says.
Rima goes back to her childhood and narrates instances where we can gauge that it isn’t just the movie business that discriminates on the basis of gender, men and women are both conditioned to believe that a woman is subservient to a man, and we as a society, need to change the dynamics.