Representation of women in Indian cinema has been a hot subject of debate after the Delhi gang rape incident last year, and yesteryear actor and chat show anchor Simi Garewal feels Bollywood continues to perpetuate customs that should have been buried long ago.
While delivering the Satyajit Ray Memorial Lecture at Melbourne University on the sidelines of Indian Film Festival of Melbourne recently, Garewal spoke at length on the topic, The Evolution of Women in Indian Cinema. “Bollywood has been complicit in the process by continuing to show films that perpetuate values and customs that should have been buried long ago. It’s a problem because there are a lot of people in India for whom films are their school, their way of learning. They may be illiterate, they may not read books but they look at films and think: ‘This is the way things are. This is what I am and how I should be treated’,” she said during her presentation.
Garewal, 65, said that Indian woman on screen has been designed and defined by the male: “If she’s a wife, she has to put up with her husband’s nonsense. If she’s a girlfriend she has to play a little hard to get first, but finally succumb and worship him. The lyrics of popular songs exhort a woman to worship her husband even if he is wicked, cruel."