How Cinema has represented the concept of women?

 How Cinema has represented the concept of women?



Since its inception in the 1930s, the Indian film industry has consistently ranked as one of the country's most popular sources of entertainment. The majority of movies released share a trait in common: men are portrayed with characters that meet the society's definition of masculinity, while female roles are reduced to misogynistic ideals. This is true even though audiences are flocking to the theatres and blockbusters are becoming popular. As a result, problems about gender stereotyping, the standard of media that the general public consumes, and the incorrect understanding of a balanced society have been highlighted by the lack of equality both on and off-screen.

Eminent directors and performers have stated that it is crucial to examine, confront, and violate rules against such stereotypes in films as well as in society, claiming that the representation of women in mainstream Indian cinema has been “stereotypical and coquettish” for far too long.

Representation of women

Films can be thought of as the society’s mirror. Because they use cinematography to depict the social reality as it is. As a result, the film significantly influences how people see gender, caste, and creed. Numerous studies have been conducted on the representation of women or gender in movies.

Many movies use supporting characters to push their ideas of the ideal woman; they play love interests or engage in ‘nurturing’ professions, giving the impression that they are weak, obedient individuals with little capacity for reflection or debate. In addition to being a far away from reality, these movies give people a false idea about women’s skills and interests, which unintentionally sows the seeds of inequity.

Through the gaze of the viewer, the advancement of women in the Bollywood business may be seen. The perception of women by movie fans and others has contributed to defining boundaries both on-screen and off, and is influenced by elements including politics, economic structure, and culture.

It is not surprising that the Indian film industry is frequently perceived as a male-dominated workplace given the unrealistic standards presented in many films and the dearth of female presence in the business.

According to a 2017 study by the Geena Davis Institute, barely one in ten Bollywood directors are female. According to other data, female actresses received a paltry 31.5% of the screen time, compared to male actors’ 68.50%. Female characters in Bollywood have traditionally been portrayed through the eyes of a largely male perspective because of a disparity in the number of men and women involved in important off-screen processes like scriptwriting, filmmaking, and direction. As a result, gender biases and old stereotypes have persisted in movies. With women having no agency of their own, the majority of Bollywood romances throughout the ages have been exclusively an expression of male desire. For instance, stalking is glorified in countless songs, where the hero pursues the object of his passion obstinately until she consents to his unwelcome approaches. Bollywood item songs usually feature scantily dressed ladies dancing to obscene lyrics while men swoon over the song's hero.

These songs contribute to the issue and spread the harmful notion that harassing women sexually and through catcalls is normal. A few Bollywood movies have attempted to address the subject of feminism, however since box office success is a film’s main objective, faux-feministic movies have started to appear.

The positioning of women in the movies does not only reflect the narrative’s need for tradition, but rather places the male and his masculinity as the ultimate source of power, with the woman only serving as a vehicle for imagination and sensual pleasure. The women’s roles are either depicted at one extreme as a devoted mother, a loving wife, or a “bahu” who is preoccupied with serving others and attending to family obligations. She is also represented as a vamp who wants to wreck havoc in society, which is the other extreme. Ironically, this extremely negative character appears to have her own opinions and isn’t afraid to express them or be open about her sexuality.

Changing scenario

Gully Boy by Zoya Akhtar, Deepa Mehta’s Fire and Earth, and the well-known movie English Vinglish by Gauri Shinde are just a few of the many works that are slowly bringing in a much-needed change to the industry, through representation of women from all walks of life. However, changing times have brought into the spotlight several successes directed by women. The innovative and inspirational movie Pink, starring Tapsee Pannu and Amitabh Bachchan, addressed the issue of women’s consent. The Central Board of Film Certification had various difficulties with Alankrita Shrivastava’s film Lipstick Under My Burkha, which brought up questions about the board’s decisions’ double standards when it comes to approving films that often make fun of women. Kangana Ranaut and Vidya Balan are well-known examples of movies with strong female leads, and actresses like Priyanka Chopra and Anushka Sharma are supporting and creating films with empowering female characters.

The “Female Gaze”

The “Male Gaze,” a concept created by film critic and researcher Laura Mulvey in 1973, is directly opposed by the “Female Gaze.” Cinema has allowed for a “male gaze” that reduces female experiences and characters to passive objects of desire. Now that this gaze has been broken down, female directors may tell tales of female friendships, difficulties, and intimate depictions of the female experience. Women who identify with the “Female Gaze” are given access to cameras so they can relate their tales and take pictures of themselves and their bodies as they view them. Allowing women to be shown using their own distinctive cinematic language is what the female gaze in film refers to.

Men developed the rules and conventions we employ in movies to tell stories about men. Women behave differently in the real world, and female narratives shouldn’t be changed to fit patriarchal norms. Its fundamental issue is with looking at the world through a lens other than male fantasy.


Indian society and its mindset have a highly ingrained patriarchal mindset, which is mirrored in Indian cinema. Cinema primarily appeals to the greater male audience since it is viewed as a kind of escape. Filmmakers don’t want to deviate from the accepted clich├ęs in order to provide women ground-breaking parts because cinema is a business. Thus, it is also the responsibility of the audience to end this vicious cycle of supply and demand by supporting progressive films. Although the transition is gradual and significantly delayed, it is nonetheless happening more frequently.

The majority of mainstream Hindi film adheres to stylized depictions of womanhood. Always shot from a male perspective, cinema. A discussion of whether Indian women of various ethnicities have been successfully portrayed in mainstream Hindi movies in a culture where patriarchal ideals are prevalent follows. It’s challenging to reach a consensus over how women are portrayed. It is incorrect to assume that women on Indian silver screen have been portrayed in the same way because women in India are not a homogeneous group; they belong to different religions, castes, classes, and socioeconomic statuses, and they have various types of ambitions and desires as a result of which they lead different lives. For Indian women to achieve their goals, cinema needs to offer a unique and independent platform for them. The goal of cinema should be to inspire social change through entertainment, not just to amuse. Cinema should strive to create more progressive depictions of women in order to advance modernity as a cultural product, rather than merely making movies. Such representations would accurately reflect women and their place in society.


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