Vidya Balan opens up on gender equality in cinema: Why is it a bad thing if women directors have women-heavy crews? | Hindi Movie News

On Wednesday evening, Vidya Balan, Nandita Das and producer Guneet Like Kapoor came together to discuss the subject of women’s representation in Hindi movies at an event titled Lights, Camera and Time for Action: Recasting Gender Equality Compliant Hindi Cinema. The School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social SciencesMumbai, presented a research which analysed 25 box-office hits of 2019, along with 10 women-centric films that released between 2012 and 2019.
Vidya, Guneet and Nandita were also joined by Shibasish Sarkar, President, Producers Guild of India, Mike Hankey, US Consul General, Mumbai, and Prof Shalini Bharat, Director – TISS (Tata Institute of Social Sciences). The quantitative and qualitative study that was presented at the event was supported by a research grant from the US Consulate Mumbai.
Key findings of the study
n 72% of characters in the
analysed films are played by cis-males, 26% by cis-females, and 2% by
queer actors
n 36% of box office hits and 100% of women-centric films passed the Bechdel test (which tests if a work of fiction portrays women in a sexist manner)
n Women in employment and in public domain work are shown in films, however, the work roles they play are gendered, with a greater presence of women in healthcare, education, entertainment, and journalism
n The most popular skin tone for women characters is fair skin and body type is thin for lead characters and medium for all other support characters
n Women-centric films have greater diversity and explore inbound subjects dealing with relationships, sexuality, motherhood, and other sensitivities
Quotes:
I don’t see why it’s a bad thing if women directors are hiring women technicians & women-heavy crews. Eventually, that will percolate into male-led films also. I have seen that change with movies like Mission Mangal. I am seeing more women DOPs and editors. We need to look at the person for what they bring to the table and not judge them by their gender
– Vidya Balan, actress
When there will be more women storytellers, writers, cinematographers and producers, then slowly, it will start showing in the kind of complexities we give to women characters. The portrayal of men has also been controlled for the longest time by men
– Nandita Das, filmmaker and actress
I absolutely miss a group of producers who are doing independent films. I have seen a lot of them give up after producing one or two. Having produced more than 40 independent films, I think there is a need to have more female producers
– Guneet Monga Kapoor, Producer
In the early years of my career I was playing roles of the romantic interest. It wasn’t satisfying; I wanted more substance. I felt like I wasn’t contributing anything, I was sleepwalking through some of the roles. Ishiqiya set the ball rolling, it was the role of a woman who had agency. I felt reborn as an actor— Vidya Balan
Anecdotally, we may feel we are far better than where we were, but the research and statistics show us that we have a rather long way to go — Nandita Das
I think women are incredible at multitasking and are generally able to run the world better. We are beginning to have a conversation, be more aware and build a safer space — Guneet Monga Kapoor

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