Bollywood’s Failure to Represent Female Protagonists: A Damning Indictment of Patriarchy and Artistic Mediocrity
As a devoted fan of Bollywood, it is with a heavy heart that I write this op-ed on the downfall of the industry and its shoddy projection of female protagonists over the past seven decades.
Why have we allowed Bollywood to get away with its blatant sexism and objectification of women for so long? Have we become so accustomed to the male gaze that we no longer even recognize it as a problem? Or perhaps we simply don’t care, content to sit back and enjoy the superficial glamor and romance that Bollywood films so often offer.
But let’s not be fooled – behind the glitz and the glitter, there is a deeper issue at play. For decades, Bollywood has consistently portrayed women as nothing more than props for the male lead. They are often reduced to mere love interests, with their own desires and motivations completely overshadowed by those of the male characters.
Even when female characters are given leading roles, they are often sexualized and objectified for the pleasure of the male audience. Just look at the way female actresses are often dressed in revealing clothing or the way their bodies are shot and edited for maximum titillation. It is no wonder that women in Bollywood have struggled to be taken seriously as actresses or to be given the same level of respect as their male counterparts.
But it’s not just the objectification of women that is a problem in Bollywood. The industry has also consistently perpetuated harmful gender roles and stereotypes, depicting women as submissive, domestic caretakers and men as strong, decisive leaders. This reinforces damaging societal norms and reinforces the idea that women are inferior to men.
And let’s not forget about the age-old practice of sidelining women as soon as they reach a certain age. Bollywood’s obsession with youth and beauty means that older actresses are often written out of the picture, while their male co-stars are allowed to continue thriving in their careers. This is not only unfair, but it sends a damaging message to young girls that their worth and value decrease as they age.
It’s time for Bollywood to wake up and realize that women are more than just pretty faces and love interests. We deserve to see complex, fully realized female characters on screen, with their own desires and motivations driving the story. We deserve to see women as strong, independent individuals, capable of leading their own lives and making their own decisions.
It’s high time Bollywood takes a hard look at itself and starts making a conscious effort to uplift and empower women on screen. This can be achieved by hiring more female writers and directors, giving female leads more agency and depth, and promoting inclusivity and diversity in all aspects of the film industry.
As consumers, we also have a role to play in demanding better representation. We need to support films that break away from these harmful tropes and challenge the status quo. It’s time for a change, and it starts with us.
You can now write for RSP Magazine and be a part of the community. Share your stories and opinions with us here.