Sexual violence largely ignored by film industry: Big B

Kolkata: Megastar Amitabh Bachchan on Friday said the issue of sexual violence and sexual consent have been largely ignored by the Indian film industry, and questioned the absence of an independent word to denote female valour.

Amitabh analysed the changing role of women in Indian cinema at the inaugural of the 22nd edition of the Kolkata International Film Festival here.

“Meenal Arora, Falak Ali and Andrea Tariang (the female characters in ‘Pink’) are to all intents and purposes emancipated women with all liberties accorded by their financial independence. Yet the film raises unsettling queries largely ignored by our film industry. ‘Pink’ brings the issues of sexual violence and sexual consent into urban middle class homes,” he said.

Talking about films like “Udta Punjab” and “Parched” which deal with sexual violence, Big B said “Pink” provokes audiences to question whether education has changed the way women are treated in urban India or not.

“The Age of Consent Act was legalised over 125 years ago in 1891. How many times has the value of consent been taken for granted in our society? How many times has our culture considered consent and specifically sexual consent important enough to be acknowledged and discussed? How many times has ‘No’ meant ‘No’,” he wondered.

Citing examples of Indian films like the 1936 “Achhut Kanyya”, Satyajit Ray’s “Ghare Baire” ,”Mahanagar”, “Abhimaan”, Shyam Benegal’s “Ankur”, Gulzar’s “Aandhi” to recent endeavours like “Lajja”, “Paa”, “Mardaani”, “Mary Kom”, “Queen”, “Piku”, “Nil Battey Sannata” and the latest “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”, Big B highlighted how women’s portrayal in Indian cinema had changed from the stereotypical housewife to strong and independent characters fighting for their rights.

“Even the word ‘mardaani’ is derived from the word ‘mard’ … the word which is a description of male valour and strength. Why is there not an independent word for female valour? This is something which I feel needs debate and consideration,” said Amitabh, a UN ambassador for the girl child.