Cinema of Sleaze

India Today - - NEWS WRAP - BY As­miTA BAk­sHi

Misog­yny in the In­dian film in­dus­try is alive and well. The ab­duc­tion and mo­lesta­tion of a Malay­alam ac­tress made news when Malay­alam chan­nels re­cently aired an au­dio record­ing of an al­leged black­mail call that was re­ceived by now ar­rested ac­tor Dileep’s close aide. With women’s roles both on and off screen be­com­ing a more glar­ing cause for con­cern, Na­tional Award win­ning film ed­i­tor Bina Paul sheds light on the sit­u­a­tion as it stands and the slow, but sure way for­ward.

Tell us about the Col­lec­tive.

Women in Cinema Col­lec­tive (WCC) is a group of women pro­fes­sion­als in the Malay­alam film in­dus­try that have come to­gether to ad­dress is­sues of gen­der and en­sure that it be­comes a pro­fes­sion of equal op­por­tu­nity and eq­ui­table space of gain­ful em­ploy­ment for women.

The ar­rest of Dileep is a step in the right di­rec­tion. Your take on how the en­tire in­ci­dent un­folded?

Yes, we be­lieve that the en­quiry is be­ing car­ried out with care and ap­pro­pri­ate se­ri­ous­ness. Our con­cern is our col­league and en­sur­ing that this never hap­pens again. We hope that this in­deed will not only be a de­ter­rent but also an op­por­tu­nity to relook at many en­trenched val­ues.

How can one com­bat the ram­pant sex­ism and skewed gen­der ra­tio in the film in­dus­try?

The prob­lem seems to be twofold—one is the no­tion of women and tech­nol­ogy. A sense that women are tech­no­log­i­cally re­tarded and can­not han­dle what the male mind can. The other is a tra­di­tional no­tion of the film in­dus­try be­ing as­so­ci­ated very strongly with ear­lier artis­tic tra­di­tions like the Dev­da­sis, the mu­jra dancers, who were marginalised and con­sid­ered out­siders with an ad­di­tional moral la­belling. Women in cinema were al­ways the ‘other’. Re­spectabil­ity, a catch­word for the mid­dle class, was never ac­corded to women work­ing in cinema. The (in)fa­mous cast­ing couch syn­drome starts right there. In Ker­ala, with a huge mid­dle class, women find it hard to break this no­tion of the pro­fes­sion and find it dif­fi­cult to choose to work in the in­dus­try. Un­for­tu­nately, con­di­tions within the pro­fes­sion also are not con­ducive to in­clu­sive­ness.

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