Bollywood movies are crazy sexist

Bollywood has been notorious for its mistreatment of woman characters—and now data proves it.

Over the years, women portraying central characters in Hindi cinema have been few and far between. Those portrayed, including the protagonists, are rarely holistic and mostly subject to ingrained biases. “Different features like occupation, introduction of cast in text, associated actions, and descriptions are captured to show the pervasiveness of gender bias and stereotype in movies,” a recent analysis of Bollywood movies by IBM and two Delhi-based institutions revealed.

To study such disparities, researchers used an IBM dataset of Wikipedia pages of 4,000 Hindi movies released between 1970 and 2017, extracting titles, cast information, plots, soundtracks, and posters. They also analysed 880 official trailers of movies released between 2008 and 2017.

The on-screen gap

Over the nearly 50 year period, males are mentioned on average 30 times per plot on Wikipedia compared to female cast members, who are mentioned only 15 times. This suggests that an actress’s role is not given as much importance as the actor’s, according to the researchers.

Woman characters are mostly described with surface-level qualities—attractive, beautiful—whereas men are represented as “strong” and “successful” associated with them. “…verbs like ‘kills’ and ‘shoots’ occur with males while verbs like ‘marries’ and ‘loves’ are associated with females,” the researchers noted.

In trailers, women are shown to be much happier and less angry than men. This representation is in line with research from 2012 which found that commercial Hindi films portray “ideal women” as submissive, self-sacrificing, chaste, and controlled, while the “bad” woman is “individualistic, sexually aggressive, westernised, and not sacrificing.”

The data also revealed that during introduction sequences, descriptors for males are profession-driven whereas women are associated with physical appearances, emotional states, or their relation to a male, such as the “wife of” or “daughter of” so-and-so.

In most storylines, males had superior occupations: Over 32% of male characters were doctors, compared to just 3% of women; for female characters, the most popular careers were teachers or secretaries. Roles of lawyers, CEOs, and police officers were overwhelmingly played by male actors.

Despite trivialising their roles, filmmakers don’t hesitate to use women as bait in luring audiences to theatres.

“While 80% of the movie plots have more male mentions than females, surprisingly more than 50% movie posters feature actresses,” the researchers noted, citing examples of movies like GangaaJal and Raees. In these movies, the males have more than 100 mentions in the plot and females have none, yet the posters feature females “very prominently.”

“They want to publicise through (the actress) but when it comes to actual story, she has been sidelined,” said Nishtha Madaan of IBM India. Madaan co-wrote the paper with Sameep Mehta of IBM and researchers from the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi, and Delhi Technological University.

Off-screen woes

Meanwhile, the lack of attention paid towards women extends beyond actresses, too.

A soundtrack analysis of film songs released since 2010 showed that women sing consistently fewer songs than men—a trend that leading female vocalists have spoken out about. “If one takes into account the actual part of the song sung, this trend will be even more dismal,” the researchers said.

Women are also mostly missing in areas like production, direction, and cinematography.

Changing roles

Madaan acknowledges that while this stereotyping is a reflection of “how people think,” it is also a testament to “how the thinking is changing.” With many mainstream actresses like Anushka Sharma of NH10 fame and Kangana Ranaut and Vidya Balan, who opted for female-centric scripts like Queen and Kahaani respectively, things are changing on-screen.

The proportion of female-centric movies has risen in recent years. “Our system discovered at least 30 movies in last three years where females play central role in plot as well as in posters,” the study said, referring to movies like Neerja, Nil Battey Sannata, Margarita with a Straw, Dear Zindagi, Akira, and more.

Between 2015 and 2017, females were the central characters in 11.9% of Hindi movies released between 2015 and 2017. Back in the 70s, this figure was closer to 7%.

Content Source: Quartz India

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quentin tarantino – the creative motor

after his 8th blockbuster in a row: ‘the hateful eight’, which came out in 2015, mr. tarantino is taking all the time in the world to come up with his next stroke of brilliance, keeping us all wait for it. but we know for sure that the wait shall be worth it, because whatever tarantino does turns into gold. the next movie is likely to be based upon ‘the manson family murders in the 60s, and would probably cast brad pitt and jennifer lawrence in lead roles. this is the first time that tarantino is covering a real event.

tarantino is a creative motor that produces cult cinema, something that is rarely found elsewhere. here are a few charismatic features of his sublime creativity:

  1. style: all tarantino movies are highly stylistic and full of glamour. this one feature stands out if you place tarantino with other great directors of cinema. tarantino has a style that is entirely unique and fascinating and he may be termed as the most stylist filmmaker of cinematic history. right from reservoir dogs till the hateful eight, tarantino has maintained his own stylistic way of depicting life, something we keep craving for. and if we must believe him, tarantino has plans to leave us craving as he says that he shall make only 10 films in his entire film career.
  2. violence: it has to be there in a tarantino flick. it is the violence that makes all his films so powerful and thrilling. tarantino made his entry in filmmaking with the super-violent reservoir dogs and the streak has continued till the hateful eight where we have a bloody climax resulting in the death of all (sorry for the spoiler). by being so drastically violent, tarantino reminds us of shakespeare in a way, all whose tragic plays resulted into death of all the major characters. death being the primary event in the hateful eight, tarantino uses the 60s song: there won’t be many coming home, a ballad that talks about soldiers dying in war. what else violence does in tarantino movies is that it provides excellent thrill to the audience as we are never sure as to when somebody is about to die and so the audience is always on the edge of their seats.

    image source: forgetthebox.net
  3. dialogues: now, this one area is where tarantino is a genius and comes out as one of the best of all times. you simply can’t beat him at this. tarantino deliberately stretches his characters’ conversations longer than the usual so as to present them as more realistic and fun. he has the ability to mold the most plain and random daily conversations of random people into highly entertaining and interesting ones. tarantino’s dialogues exhibit certain inquisition that is very intriguing to the audience, and that slowly uncovers the plot of the film, thereby making the suspense expand to its maximum limits. the dialogues are full of humor and at the same time are lyrical in a modern sense that attracts complete engagement of the spectators.
  4. entertainment: well, the above points and some other factors including excellent performances, realistic action sequences, editing, direction, screenplay, background score, etc together make a tarantino movie incredibly entertaining as a whole. so much so that one always leaves the cinema hall wanting for more. and that is exactly what mr. tarantino’s plan is: to retire from the film arena leaving his fans wanting for more of him, as he says that he shall make only 10 films in his entire film career. guys, 8 have already been made. so if we must believe his words, there are only 2 more films that are going to come out of tarantino’s creative pen.

the most crucial aspect that sets tarantino apart from his contemporaries is his supreme vision. this man creates cinema not for the audience today, but for a upcoming generations. he wants to be known as the greatest filmmaker for decades to come. he wants his films to be viewed after 50-60 years from now by people not yet born. well, that seems possible, as after almost 25 years of its release, i can still watch pulp fiction as many times as you tell me to.

quentin tarantino is a true artist, a creative machine that will stop at will. if today we do not place him along the likes of shakespeare, pablo picasso and michelangelo, the future generation certainly will.

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what makes a work of art great

an artist longs to create such great work of art that astonishes all and outshines its contemporaries. he dwells upon his craft for long years in order to come up with one such masterpiece that shall immortalize his being in the artistic arena. but he does not always achieve that feat. in fact, only one tenth of the entire artistic clan or even lesser is able to book its name in the historical records of grandeur. the rest fail and are forgotten.

so the question that becomes important here is what is it that makes a piece of art great. what work shall stand the test of time and shall be acclaimed as great work for generations in future. is there a formula to such grand success or one has to make his way through subjective experiments?

scholars have believed that in order create great work in the present, the artist must study the past, because without a resounding knowledge of the history, any creation would lack investigatory strength. it would be as if it stands on its own and its existence shall be a transient one. if, however, one has studied thoroughly the traditional patterns of his craft, one shall be in a better position to create great work.

m.m. bakhtin, the great russian philosopher and literary critic, says: “a work cannot live in future centuries without having somehow observed past centuries as well. if it had belonged entirely to today, (that is, were a product only of its own time) and not a continuation of the past or essentially related to the past, it could not live in the future. everything that belongs only to the present dies along with the present. … in the process of their posthumous life, they are enriched with new meanings, new significance: it is as though these works outgrow what they were in the epoch of their creation.”

what a beautiful idea that is! and how true! in order to be remembered in the future, one must work hard upon the past practices that have sustained through the present. t.s. eliot had similar views when in his essay — tradition and individual talent — he says: “no poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. his significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. you cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead.”

perhaps, that is the reason why great artists like quentin tarantino never forget to mention the classics when they come to talk about their own films. they are always inspired by the great work already done by the erstwhile filmmakers. if you watch “the hateful eight”, you’ll find that tarantino has tried to create a similar film as has already been made before, in terms of the impact it has on the audience. he says that the 1982 classic movie “the thing” is very similar to “the hateful eight” as it creates similar atmosphere for the audience.

so, you see, great work is not a creation of the artist’s mind alone. rather, it is an observance of what has already been achieved in the past and what has lingered on in the mind of the artist for long years that finally gets released into a new form of art. tarantino certainly works this way and is one of the best directors we have today. his films shall continue to be loved by millions in the future because he has picked his inspiration from great works that have stood the test of time. the same is true for shakespeare too. and that’s what makes a work of art great.

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how authentic are you

today’s times are tragic times. why? because image has become greater than reality. people often turn towards appearances, without realizing that looks are deceptive. authenticity is rarely valued and superficiality and artificiality has become the realm of the modern existence.

people no longer crave for art or intelligence. they are happy to go after the pseudo stereotypes that are prevalent, glossy and loud. i’m talking about the masses here. there are a few exceptions, of course. but largely, if you see, you find chaos, distractions, people following crap. The kind of songs we get to hear these days, especially the rap/hip hop ones, full of crap talk, it makes us hard to believe that it is the same country that have produced singers like kishore kumar and mohd rafi and musicians like SD burman and shankar jaikishan.

Now, you may call it collective stupidity or anything else, that’s what has doomed India’s progress on an international scale. Whereas in America, the masses are full of new startups and the youth is coming up with new ideas to change the world, in india, we are caught up in petty politics on the basis of caste and religion. We have leaders who are bent upon restoring the ancient practices back at the contemporary stage and we have youth in large numbers who blindly follow the traditional images of power and do not acknowledge democracy. During the day, these goons work in groups and assert power on innocent people on the basis of a specific traditional customs, and in the night, these goons criminally exploit and loot. Under such circumstances, where does one expect new ideas from the youth, where is the question of growth and meeting global standards.

Because everything has been commercialized, politics is no different. Politics is a good career option in india due to rampant corruption. A good candidate for politics just needs to have a great criminal background and several contact links in the existing government. That’s all and then your victory at the polls is confirmed.

Media plays an important role in this image and reality game. Being a part of the same commercialized structure of the capitalist economy of the country, media has to project and maintain an image that resounds with the general public, I.e. The masses, because if you can’t please the masses, you can’t keep the govt happy. Just like the masala movies, media has to add some masala to the news in order to feed the stupidity of mass audiences.

Tv channels are not so distinct domain from the media. In fact, they both fall under the same ballpark. Their most important value is TRP and they are willing to debase themselves to any level in order to maintain the TRP. Hence, the chaos. Now, the people like me, those who don’t watch TV, are blessed souls, because we can think, create and imagine new ideas. But the majority, the larger masses are devoid of this sensation. They are tragically trapped into the same blend of negative masala services that blind and numb.

I hope they come out of this trance and think for themselves what they are capable of dreaming and achieving. I hope india matures to be a world leader. Remember, there’s immense potential that lacks execution.

Image source: http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/OB-YE077_icorru_G_20130712062808.jpg

how to write fiction – advice from a genius polymath

august strindberg, a name that might not sound very familiar but has a fascination behind, was a polymath playwright, actor, novelist, poet, essayist, painter, swedish modernist who married and divorced thrice. infamous for his scandalous behaviour, he was charming as a young man, always attracted to ladies.

his literature is prolific and his paintings are full of expressions with vivid colors. his fiction breaks free the shackles of orthodoxy, as he is a revolt on paper and anger is his most precious emotion as he sets out to write. this is what he has to say to the budding writers, a message he had given to his first wife who had an inclination to writing:

“write everything you don’t say as you sit over your knitting. say everything you would like to say when you are angry but must keep quiet… instead of playing some dumb sonatas on the piano, take some pen and paper. (don’t write poetry, for god’s sake. there is no room in those short lines — least of all when you are rich in ideas and everything floods over.) to write for you is simply to remember. think of some small significant event in your life. first isolate it. see that it has a beginning and an end. one has to know where it is leading…! if you get “angry” your style acquires color, for anger is the strongest of all spiritual emotions. you say you lack education! god preserve us from writers who retail what they have read in the books. it is people’s secrets that we want to know… think of an injustice, get angry, bring forth invisible enemies, create adversaries… be “mad” — it isn’t everyone who can be that and not many of those lucky enough to be able to, have the courage… there was something called the sin against the holy ghost! i think they meant by that: resisting one’s calling. that was said to be the only unforgivable sin. remember that!”

so you see, strindberg inspires. he wants you to be “mad” and “angry”, as he himself was. he wants you to have the courage to set out for your calling, because resisting it is a sin to the holy ghost, and that too an unforgivable one. another ‘tip’ that he throws off at us is to isolate any significant incident from life and start writing on it when you clearly see a beginning and an end to it. it is the secrets that the people want to know. so explore the confidential.

strindberg has written some of the most wonderful plays of the modern era. the taste of realistic drama may be relished at his writings. deeply inspired by emile zola’s essay on naturalism, strindberg strove to create fiction as a mirror to the real life. his characters are picked up from his neighborhood, people he had observed for long, and his plots were based upon the local gossips.

strindberg was a creative genius, and his creativity reaches heights of magnificence in his paintings. leading the impressionistic movement in sweden, his paintings till date are considered the most original works of the 19th century. the father of the swedish literature, strindberg is an institution of creativity and artistic excellence. we, the feeble lot of the 21st century, must learn the nuances from this polymath, a prolific playwright, who wrote over 60 plays in his four-decade career. shakespeare could write 39.

click here to find a few books of this genius polymath that you’ll enjoy reading.

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why intellectuals must raise questions

an inquisitive mind is one that is not dead. it is a sharp weapon that cuts through the vague cloud of oblivion. curiosity is life. a questioning spirit is one that takes to task the unclear and the ambiguous. to spectate without a skeptical knack is to endure a potato existence. a mind that is not curious is dead meat. for it to be alive, there has to be a constant inquisition that demands answers, that does not stop till truth is unfolded on its path. and that finally walks over the terrains of truth, and that does not stop at moments of doubt, and that rather strengthens in the dark wells of doubts, and that finally erupts out a victor. such inquisition and such an inquisitive mind alone is pure, such an inquisitive mind alone is chaste, such an inquisitive mind alone is fertile, such an inquisitive mind alone is profound, such an inquisitive mind alone is supreme.

Edward Said was a renowned professor of literature at Columbia University, a public intellectual, and a founder of the academic field of postcolonial studies. an arab-american who spoke out against american foreign policy and its support for israel, said was a tireless advocate of palestinian rights.

in 1993, he presented his bbc radio 4 reith lectures on “representations of the intellectual.” said was appealing here to intellectuals – and budding intellectuals – to reflect upon their craft and political engagement. expertise, he said, goes beyond competence, of being conscientious about what you do, and having the right skills to do it. rather, said stressed the importance of making choices. he asked what was for sale, whether the goals you set yourself with your expertise were conformist or critical, and, perhaps most importantly, in whose interests were you acting?

“the particular threat to the intellectual today,” said reckoned, “is an attitude i call professionalism.” professionalism “means thinking of your work as an intellectual as something you do for a living, with one eye on the clock, and another cocked at what is considered to be proper, professional behaviour – not rocking the boat, not straying outside the accepted paradigms or limits, making yourself marketable and above all presentable.”

all of which can, and indeed should, be countered by courageous intellectual amateurism. anybody can do it – even professionals. above all, it means a readiness to withstand comfortable and lucrative conformity, a desire “to be moved not by profit or reward but by love for and unquenchable interest in the larger picture, in making connections across lines and barriers, in refusing to be tied down to a specialty, in caring for ideas and values in spite of the restrictions of a profession.”

an intellectual ought to be someone who raises questions at the very heart of professionalised activity. it’s a sense of self-worth, said reckons, an affirmation of engaged activity that hinges on an audience. indeed, is that audience there to be satisfied, a client to be kept happy? or is it there to be challenged, provoked, mobilised into collective, democratic action?

source: versobooks.com

http://www.versobooks.com/blogs/

 

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