Prakash Jha bats for more representation of women in film-making

Updated: 10 February, 2018 15:23 IST | PTI | Mumbai

The stereotypical portrayal of women in cinema can change only if their representation is more in every aspect of film-making, feels producer-director Prakash Jha

Prakash Jha
Prakash Jha

The stereotypical portrayal of women in cinema can change only if their representation is more in every aspect of film-making, feels producer-director Prakash Jha. The film industry is dominated by men and the portrayal of women on screen depends on the "male gaze" from behind the camera, he said. "It is the male gaze and social gaze which reflect the cinematic gaze. The male gaze from behind the camera reflects how women are portrayed on screen," Jha said today at a panel discussion during the Difficult Dialogues conference here on the portrayal of gender in cinema. He said the representation of women in every aspect of film making -- like story-telling, writing, directing and cinematography -- is abysmally low.

The characters in movies are a representation of observations and experiences in real life, Jha said, adding that cinema is a constant communication with society. "Cinema may not be able to make a change but a constant discussion helps to ensure the issue is not forgotten," said Jha, who is known for hard-hitting films like "Mrityudand", "Apaharan" and "Gangaajal". He said every kind of subject is possible to be portrayed in cinema and added that the need of the hour is to provide opportunities to women. Jha lamented that the Pune-based Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) has only three female teachers so far since its inception. At present, there is not a single female teacher in the total faculty of 24, he claimed. The producers, the market and the audience do not trust women filmmakers and this attitude has to change, Jha said, adding that there is an audience for every kind of cinema. Terming the criticism of film "Padmaavat" as regressive, Jha said more women have watched the film than men, and filmmakers get encouraged by such a trend.

"The sensitivity of the audience also determines what kind of films are made," he said. On the occasion, Jha revealed that he is working on the script of his new film "Satsang", based on religion. "Religion has become an important aspect of socio- political life. It is the biggest business," he said. However, the filmmaker refused to divulge any further details and said he would speak about it at an appropriate time. Filmmaker Shohini Ghosh, who is also a professor of mass communication at the Jamia Millia Islamia university, said noted director late Rituparno Ghosh's movies portrayed women characters more sensitively than what a woman filmmaker would do. She also added that gender is not synonymous with women. Ghosh said there is a complex way of how people engage with cinema. They get influenced by cinema but not in a predictive way. Filmmaker Ketan Mehta said gender stereotyping is not good for women and men.

"Being gender secular is need of the hour in the eyes of the new India," he said. Surina Narula, the CEO of Difficult Dialogues, a forum for examining issues of contemporary relevance, had yesterday said that gender equality is not adversarial to men and they should also join the conversation and participate in formulating policies on the issue. Policies are designed to help people live a better life. The need of the hour is keep stakeholders informed regarding the formulation of policies, she said. Goa State Women's Commission chairperson Shubhalaxmi Naik, the commission's former chairperson, Pramod Salgaonkar, and North Goa district collector Nila Mohanan also participated in the event yesterday.

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First Published: 10 February, 2018 14:42 IST

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