HIDDEN TRUTHS OF INDIAN FILM INDUSTRY: A Sneak to the inside stories of Caste, Religion, Colour, and Gender in Cinemas

The hidden truth behind Indian Film Industry which churns out hundreds of films every year with a massive following among Indians and other nationalities globally comes to the fore, thanks to pandemic and the fall of the movie halls and rise of OTT. According to a recent research, in India, audiences used to go to the cinema to watch spectacles, song and dance entertainments, so filmmakers sticked to the tried and tested template. The industry, was and still is mostly risk-averse. The filmmakers say we are giving what the audiences want. They are worried what would happen if the fans turn their back on them.

Apart from this, the research also says about the gender, colour, caste and religious bias in the films that are produced and supplied to masses in large scale. The study further shows that beauty is a close neighbor of fairness in Bollywood films in particular and a pan Indian film industry in general till date. In older films, words such as money, debt, jewelry, fees, and loan were used alongside dowry, indicating compliance to the practice. But modern films exhibited non-compliance through words like guts and refused and indicated some of the consequences of such non-compliance with words like divorce and trouble.

“The era starting from the 1950s and up till the end of the millennium, 74% of babies born in films were boys . The trend and tide started to change a bit from the 2000s, that number had come down to 54%. It was a huge jump, considering the ages old patriarchal mindset of Indian society and its representations through cinema and other pop culture entertainments, but the gender ratio still stands skewed”, the study says.

Over the years, Bollywood films have been representing regressive society, promoting misogyny, colourism and gender biases, but there has been no broad study into its social biases. Most creators are still catering to the upper caste, upper class and dominant religion because mostly they are from the same group of society. According to the research, “It has taken a pandemic to show that the audiences are willing to look beyond stereotypes. And when the audiences say we have the power, we demand more, the filmmakers will have to make better films. Then Bollywood will have to change.” Among the questions the researches brought up were whether Bollywood reflected India’s well-documented preference for sons and if the sentiment around a social evil like dowry had changed. The results showed a huge decline. “India’s son preference” on dowry – a practice that was outlawed in 1961. But in most arranged marriages – and nine out of 10 are still arranged – families of brides are expected to pay cash, jewelry and gifts, and thousands of brides are killed annually for bringing insufficient dowries. The take away is films act as a mirror of social biases and also have a huge impact on people’s lives and film makers and actors should prove their mettle instead of being objects to manufacture consent and desire dancing in tune to a vast industry like fashion and other.



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