Maneka Gandhi’s comments at a recent event – that movies promote sexual harassment – have been shot down by various actors. The Union Minister for Women and Child Development, at a fest held in Panaji, Goa said “movies have always portrayed the idea of sexually harassing a woman” in order to win her love. Gandhi also added that such portrayals could promote violence against women.
Bollywood actors like Shabana Azmi and Pooja Bhat dismissed Gandhi’s views in a statement to the DNA. Shabana Azmi, who is known for voicing her concerns about social issues, said that while it is a sweeping generalization that every Indian film shows romance that begins with stalking, it is certainly true of some movies. “This needs to change, and should start with actors being sensitized to their responsibilities as artists. No does not mean yes after a while. No means no. Period,” she declared. Azmi also added that young filmmakers like Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap and Dibakar Banerjee feel strongly about this, and that they are serious about not legitimizing stalking in their films.
Meanwhile, actor-turned-filmmaker Pooja Bhatt said that while industries like Bollywood, Hollywood, and also advertisements objectify women, it cannot be the cause of crimes. “The absence of it cannot be the cure either. Crimes against women (which I label violence against women) begins in the womb for most Indian women as most people would rather abort a female foetus and hope for a male heir. This was around since before Bollywood existed,” she said.
Pic: DNA India and Indian Express