Women telling women stories- Why we need more of that in this post #MeToo era
Sometimes its not about a story but how you tell that story which creates a lasting impact. And the impact intensifies when the person who tells the story has actually experienced it. With every passing day, we have seen a new change in the way films are being made and projected.
There’s no doubt that the majority of filmmakers are still catering to the populist’s sentiments, but at the same time, we have witnessed films who are breaking the moulds of stereotypes and serving as a mirror to the society. We no longer have to rely on male filmmakers to showcase the plight of women in our society. Our women filmmakers have taken the baton in their hands and are pushing the envelope one film at a time. This year itself we have two major films-‘Chhapaak‘ and ‘Panga’ telling the stories of women releasing this month.
So how much impact does it makes when women tell women’s story? The answer is a lot. Now I am not trying to discredit any of the male filmmakers who have given us some gem of the women-centric films. They all have done a commendable job and there’s no doubt about that.
But look how things change when women-centric stories are narrated from a female gaze. The recently released ‘Chhapaak’ starring Deepika Padukone in the lead was such an on-point portrayal of the plights of acid-attack survivors. I feel when a woman tells a story of this magnitude she handles the subject with more sensitivity. Handling grave issues with sensitivity is of utmost importance and Meghna Gulzar has always showcased how good she is at doing so.
This week we have Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s ‘Panga’ hitting the silver screens. The film revolves around the story of a woman, Jaya Nigam who aspires to fulfil her dream of playing Kabaddi for India. The film highlights how motherhood and household responsibilities cannot be a hurdle if your family supports you in achieving your dream. Ashwiny had shown us her sensibilities in her very first film ‘Nil Battey Sannata’. It was indeed not an easy story to tell in your very first film but Tiwari proved that she is here to tell stories and minting money is not her priority.
Then we have Vidya Balan starrer ‘Shakuntala Devi’, based on the life of mathematical genius and calculating prodigy also known as ‘human-computer’ from India. The biographical film is helmed by Anu Menon. After ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’, director Alankrita Srivastava will be treating the audience with ‘Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare‘. Starring Bhumi Pednekar and Konkona Sen Sharma, this film too seems to be as promising as Srivastava’s previous one.
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Last year, Shonali Bose presented one of the most beautiful films ‘The Sky Is Pink’. Now though the film was based on the life of a terminally ill motivational speaker Aisha Chaudhary, but not even for once you will feel that you are being sucked in a draining emotional drama. The film, in fact, showcases that there is so much more to life than just death. Watching that film was a cathartic experience, to say the least.
In this post #MeToo era, we need more stories to have a female gaze. Since ages, we have seen films which have used women merely as a prop. Female characters have been endlessly objectified. They have given little to no agency and that’s how our films have only set the wrong precedent for the longest time.
Big film studios and banners need to hire more female writers and directors. Female directors making mainstream commercial cinema is the best way to change the stereotypes and narratives that have been set to suit the patriarchal society. It’s 2020, and as they say, the future is female, Bollywood definitely needs even more women to tell female-centric stories. That’s the only way we can bring authenticity and sensitivity to the stories that actually needs to be told and are the need of the hour.