Melbourne: Representation of women in cinema has been in spotlight post the Delhi gang rape incident and actress Simi Garewal agrees that Bollywood continues to perpetuate values and customs that should have been buried long ago.
While delivering the Satyajit Ray Memorial Lecture at Melbourne University on the sidelines of Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, Garewal spoke at length on the topic `The Evolution of Women in Indian Cinema`.
"Bollywood has been complicit in the process by continuing to show films that perpetuate values and customs that should have been buried long ago.
"It`s a problem because there are a lot of people in India for whom films are their school, their way of learning. They may be illiterate, they may not read books but they look at films and think: `This is the way things are. This is what I am and how I should be treated`," she said during her presentation to a jam packed audience here.
The 65-year-old actress and chat show host said the Indian woman on screen has been designed and defined by the male.
"If she`s a wife she has to put up with all her husband`s nonsense. If she`s a girlfriend she has to play a little first, but finally succumb and worship him. The lyrics of popular songs exhort a woman to worship her husband even if he is wicked, even if he is cruel."
Even now in most Bollywood films if a woman is intelligent and a career or ambitions, she will have to pay a price, she said.
Garewal concluded by pinpointing breakthrough moments, like Tabu`s film ‘Astitva’ which questioned existence of both male and female and Vidya Balan`s ‘Kahaani’.
Garewal said Indian cinema has not been able to use its powers to bring about the much needed social change.
Talking about the December 16 gang rape incident that sparked nationwide protests, Garewal said, "What is happening in India and Delhi, there is only one way to stop it that is to put fear of God. I would love to see public hanging. There are policies and laws but no one to implement them. A court case can take 15 to 14 years."