KARACHI: Bollywood actress Dia Mirza has never shied away from expressing her opinions and concerns about the environment and its people both. Only recently, Dia Mirza showed support for Rhea Chakraborty along with other celebrities.
Now, Mirza has raised her voice regarding issues concerning the female actresses of Bollywood at large. Speaking with IANSlife, Mirza expressed the need to have more vocal and positive representation of females in the Indian entertainment industry. Mirza pointed out that most female characters on screen are ‘mute’ and most of the plots revolve around their male counterparts.
“This is not a recent phenomenon at all. The 80s, 90s and early 2000s are marked by a language in cinema that is sexist, misogynistic and objectifies women. If anything, over the last five years there has been a growing awareness/consciousness of this. Because while direct objectification vis-a-vis language used in lyrics, ‘item’ songs and vocabulary of characters may be lessening we still have a long way to go,” Mirza shared.
She continued, “An observation that I read recently points to the fact that female characters in mainstream Hindi cinema are mostly ‘mute’. A major film released last year accounts for only eight minutes of talking time for women in the first 53 minutes of the film’s run time. Until we start building a better balance in our mindsets, narratives will be unable to bring gender balance and respect for roles of women in Indian cinema.”
The conversation was a part of a discussion on women’s global rights where the UNEP National Goodwill Ambassador voiced her opinions. “There are different types of people who tell stories in cinema and a lot of what is made is their reflection of what they understand of what is happening in society, what they learn from their experiences, what they imbibe and consequently how they reflect that through their cinematic journey. And then there are some who don’t think of any of this and treat cinema like a mass entertainment business that caters to a vast percentage of the audience. And unfortunately, there is a large part of the audience that does enjoy this narrative and it is disgusting.”
“It is deeply offensive and I really feel that more and more of us need to come forward and refuse this kind of narrative and make it very apparent that this is unacceptable to us as women. The good thing is that more and more women are refusing to be a part of this portrayal and refuse to be objectified. One thing is a celebration of sensuality, but then there is this objectification.”
Objectification of women and the portrayal of female characters simply as passive beings is a phenomenon that exists in media across the globe, and not just in Bollywood. Writing better roles for women is an art that more writers and directors need to adapt to. The entertainment industry is one which can use its platform to educate the masses about issues that women face, much like Dia Mirza’s Thappad does.