I don’t even know where to start from while talking about sexism in Bollywood. Shall I talk about the reel or the real? The sexism in Bollywood on-screen or the one behind the scenes. The part where a female lead is nothing but a love interest of the male lead or the part where the actress wants nothing but an equal paycheck as the actor. Let's get into the depth of the sexism existing in Bollywood.
Equal Pay (Lol, equal?) is hard because Sexism in Bollywood is easy.
I recall an evening when I was going through some Bollywood gossip. No matter how much we roll our eyes to Bollywood gossips, we know we can’t refrain ourselves from it. Along with the unnecessary drama, the sexism in Bollywood is free too!
I remember how I was switching through channels and a headline caught my eyes. A well-known actress was shown in negative limelight just because she turned down working with one of the well-known actors of Bollywood and chose another movie because she was getting a high pay in the latter one and also, she was called “demanding” to ask for as much pay as the actor in the former movie. It’s high time actresses, or even working women, get paid for their skills and talent without gender being a matter of concern. But this looks like “too much” to ask for in the Bollywood Industry and our society. Also, isn’t it a personal choice to accept or reject a movie irrespective of the male lead? But this pay gap is no secret and this pay parity clearly denotes the sexism in Bollywood.
Love interest but is she really interested? But because of the sexism in Bollywood, that's still Romance.
The romance and love genre failed to avoid sexism in Bollywood. If that’s how romance is in real life, then I would happily die single. All my childhood, I grew up watching Bollywood movies and hoped to have that kind of romance in my life. But now I think about it as an adult, then it’s a big no. I don’t want to begin narrating my love story to my children with ‘Your dad was so stubborn. He stalked me and followed me every place I went for a very long time (so dedicated) so I had to give him a chance and here we are.” All of us have fantasized DDLJ but tell me honestly, won’t you freak out and call 911 if a random guy won’t leave you alone on a train when he meets you for the first time. Raj might have almost missed boarding his train, but he definitely missed his lessons on intimate space. And other movies like Simbaa, Heropanti, Judwaa 2, etc. I am still struggling to figure out the role of the female lead, apart from being a lover. Trust me, the struggle is real.
The Male Importance leading to subtle sexism in Bollywood
Heard about the Bechdel Test?
This test was created 35 years ago in 1985 by Alison Bechdel to measure the representation of female characters in the movies with the purpose of examining their presence and visibility through 3 simple criteria which are actually pretty simple.
Criteria no. 1: 2 female characters (Pretty basic, right? Well...There’s more)
Criteria no. 2: A normal conversation (What’s so difficult with this...Who doesn’t like talking?) Criteria no. 3: Conversation could be about anything in this world except a man. (C’mon..there are 34595884 things to talk about other than a man...why is there this test anyway).
Surprisingly, hardly any Bollywood movie could pass this test. Even the movie “Padman” - a movie about periods couldn’t pass this test. Do females have nothing to talk about other than the men in their life? Does Bollywood really think that we can’t think or talk beyond our love lives? 2 females having a conversation not about a man isn't something which happens once in a blue moon..that happens in every girl's day to day life. And girl, if by any chance you just can't talk about anything other than the males in your life, you really need to rethink where all of your energy is being utilized (or wasted?). This test does keep the quality of work aside and might be a minor issue for some but it makes a valid point about how females are portrayed in the industry.
Sexist and rape jokes are just not funny.It just contributes to the sexism in Bollywood. Fullstop.
Recently in Kartik Aryan starrer ‘Pati, Patni aur Woh’, one of its famous dialogue was included in the trailer to remind us about the existence of sexism in Bollywood along with misogyny pertaining to in our society. "Biwi se sex maang le toh hum bikhari ... biwi ko sex na de toh hum atyachari ... aur kisi tarah jugaad lagake usse sex hasil karle na toh balatkari bhi hum hai" ("If we ask for sex from our wife then we're beggars ... if we don't give her sex then we're cruel ... and if we somehow hack our way into attaining sex from her then we're rapist as well") Seriously Bollywood, at the time where we are fighting for declaring marital rape a crime, you want to use it for sympathizing with men that their wives said 'No' and increase the ancient sexism in Bollywood? Oh, how can I forget, the term 'consent' never existed in your dictionary. This sexism in Bollywood is eventually adapted by the audience in their daily lives without even realizing it. And, you might be shocked how I didn't mention ‘Kabir Singh’ even once. Well, honestly that movie can make up a novel when it comes to sexism in Bollywood. An article won't do justice to it.
penned down via Urvi Pandya