Cinema of Sleaze
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.