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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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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why i stopped watching bollywood

growing up in delhi in the 90s, i used to be a huge bollywood fan, especially the yash raj films and king khan (yeah, don’t you lie, you too were).

as time went on and as i was exposed to better flicks through our age’s biggest invention — internet, i developed a varied cinematic taste, full of naturalism and realistic drama, especially by the likes of martin scorsese and quentin tarantino. there was no looking back. shahrukh and salman eventually became two of the several bollywood butts of my jokes.

in india, cinema is not a director’s territory; the producer dictates the rules here. there are a few exceptions though — mani ratnam in the 90s and anurag kashyap & dibakar banerjee in the 2000s have managed to create exceptional films, and with actors like nawazuddin siddiqui dominating the mainstream, there is some flicker of hope, but then rampant commercialization and mass audiences willing to spend on masala weekends have made it difficult for creativity to sustain for long.

it seems we have to wait for an indian version of a christopher nolan or a steven spielberg to take on the hindi film industry with creativity, innovation and excellence. here’s something samved iyer states about bollywood on quora:

“I hate Bollywood because most of the films it churns out are 3rd class and total crap. The same love story again and again with different locations and actors. And their acting is also totally stupid. AND SONGS ARE TOTALLY TERRIBLE!!!! Without a shred of meaning in them.

I miss the acting we used to see in the old films. Those beautiful songs still are remembered by many people. And the acting was superb. The dialogue delivery was so powerful that people used to get goosebumps on hearing them. The intensity on the face while delivering the dialogues, the unbeatable background music and the melodious songs are all a thing of the past.

And now you have the same crap story with different actors. What the hell? Does Karan Johar really think he did something great with that insane ADHM? I just knew it that it was going to be boring. I didn’t see it and I will never see it. Only Bollywood “worshippers” would go to any extent to praise that kind of crap.

Not just ADHM.

Ek dhoondho, hazaar milte hain. (Search for one, you’ll get thousands (of this kind of crap!!)

Sadly, most of the audience is still moronic enough to let 3rd class films make it to the 100+ crore club. That is why the lazy directors repeat the same shit again and again. Fault of both; audience and directors. Because the directors just loot people by same films and audience gladly allows itself to be looted in spite of knowing that it shall be the same crap

Fortunately, few intelligent people avoid this trap and so, they do hate Bollywood because of this.

A picture was circulated on G+ where an Indian Army soldier travelling in a train was conveniently ignored by people. No one offered him a seat and he had to sleep on the floor.

But I can guarantee that the same people will flock to a Bollywood celebrity in thousands just to get his or her damn autograph. Worshippers will even seek their blessings!!!!

I hate Bollywood for glorifying itself too much and regularly fooling the audience. But people also aren’t any less.

Frankly, the only actor I admire is Nana Patekar. Simple, down-to-earth man, downright patriot, doesn’t give himself excess importance, lives away from all that “Bollywood glamour”, regularly engages in charity by donating money to families of farmers. He was also seen with the BSF (Border Security Force) soldiers to encourage them.”