The first edition of the report arrived at the paltry number after analysing 129 films across Hindi and four southern languages
Despite growing conversations about the inadequate representation of women, both on and off-screen, in the field of cinema, only 8 percent of HOD (Head of Department) positions in the Indian film industry were held by women in 2019-20. The glaring statistics came to light in a report titled ‘Oh Womaniya’ brought out jointly by media consulting firm Ormax Media and Film Companion, a digital platform on Indian cinema.
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The first edition of the report arrived at the paltry number after analysing 129 films across Hindi and four southern languages, in the said period. The HOD positions considered included direction, writing, editing, cinematography and production design.
As per the report, the department that had the highest women representation was production design at 15 per cent, while cinematography fared the lowest at just 2 per cent female representation. Even here, the 2 per cent was made up entirely by one female Director of Photography (DoP), Keiko Nakahara, known for her work on Tanhaji, Shakuntala Devi among others.
The Hindi film industry, however, fares better than its South counterparts, recording a 16 per cent representation of women in HOD positions. The four South Indian film industries — clubbed into one large Southern industry in the report — only have a per cent of women in HOD positions.
In addition to this, the report also focussed on the prominence given to women in a film’s marketing. Using the trailers of films as examples, the report found that in 129 films, merely 10 films saw more than 50 per cent female talk time on screen. This accounted for only 19 per cent of talk time-space in trailers being given to women characters.
The report also put the 129 films through the Bechdel Test, a measure used across the world to gauge women’s representation in cinema. The only requirement to pass the Bechdel test is that the film must feature at least one scene in which two named female characters are having a conversation that is not about a man/men.
Despite being criticised by experts for being too basic and easy to pass, 59 per cent of the movies in the report failed the test. While films such as 'Uri' and 'Durbar' with a predominantly male cast failed the test, even films such as 'Housefull 4', with an ensemble and 'Bigil', revolving around a women’s football team did not pass the test.
(Edited by : Abhishek Jha)