What comes to our mind whenever we think of the word ‘hero’? Is it a man that you see? This happens because of the influence that the media and entertainment industry has on us. From the very beginning of watching movies on the big screens, a damsel in distress is always saved by the man a.k.a the hero of the movie. Though Hollywood started becoming a little feminist in their view when they would show is a woman fighting for herself. But what about Bollywood? A woman in trouble, having zero options to save herself is shown seducing the villain of the movie. Or easily she gives up to the villain so that the hero can come and save the day.
With society already being engulfed with patriarchy, and women not getting the respect they deserve. All these movies only create a narrative of whatever is happening is right. They not only teach women to surrender and not fight for themselves, but also teaches young men that you can easily get whatever you want from a woman, and this is quite evident when you see youngsters from underprivileged backgrounds. However, with zero awareness of what is right or wrong, our movies not only misguide them but teach them to be monsters. The internet being the necessity that it is in these times, they end up misusing it and start treating women as commodities rather than fellow human beings, who deserve the same dignity and respect. The damage that has been caused is tremendous, and the time for repairing the damage does not come at a low cost. Movies will not just vanish into thin air, and the ideology of people cannot be changed within days.
Some changes have started to take place in society. Privileged people are becoming more vocal about what is right and what is wrong. Be it through sharing their opinions on social media, to even raising a PIL to stop portraying things that create a negative narrative in society. The movies that show certain images/scenes, face criticism leading them to lose all the money/resources filmmakers have invested. Well, it is not completely the fault of the entertainment industry as they are in a business to make a profit. They make something that puts them at a lesser risk of losing their money, making what the public demands. Though not the entire industry has changed, few are evolving and trying to bring a change.
Another problem that women face in the entertainment industry is how they are treated by the people making the movie. They experience lesser pay for the same amount of screen time as compared with another junior male artist in the movie. Still, some producers opt to discriminate. The real question is that, is the industry ready to evolve?
With the entertainment industry expanding its horizon and OTT platforms coming, and ample opportunity created for change, while also the logistics cost decreasing with these platforms. The risk for producers of losing their investment is comparatively lesser than that they had on the big screens. Though a few movies like Pink, Thappad, etc. kept a strong point of view for respecting women and their choices in life. A handful of movies would not change the world, while they also face criticism from people who do not believe in the same ideologies. However, there is a major shift in women-oriented shows on the OTT platforms. Shows like Aarya starring Sushmita Sen wonderfully portrayed the role of a woman standing strong with her family, and being the driving force of her family. Since OTT platforms provide shows, movies from around the world it helps the person watching change their perspective.
Though the kind of accessibility that movies on the big screen have is still more than that of OTT platforms. Majorly because to watch series or movies on online platforms you need to buy subscriptions. When it comes to movies, all such old movies with the ‘damsel in distress’ narrative are telecasted every single day and multiple times a month. Which does not allow the change even if the industry tries to bring one. Since channels do not often telecast the latest movies or movies that do not bring them profit.
While it is a society’s goal to bring in change and question the institution of patriarchy, it is necessary to look beyond selfish goals. This does not apply only to the movie industry but also to daily soaps. Which are known to overly dramatise certain relations. They also add to the harm, since most people watch daily soaps and unintentionally change their perceptions and behaviour.
So, to help women and change their perception in society, the influencers i.e. actors, filmmakers, daily soap creators, etc. need to understand their power and act accordingly. While understanding that society is changing and anything that they put up is going to get scrutinised, they must try and create a balance between commercialisation to earn profits and portraying certain characters of society. This means that no one, who is a part of society, must always be harmed while bringing awareness and positive change.