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Last Updated Sunday May 27 2018 01:02 PM IST

Indian film industry is sexist in its treatment of women: Mira Nair

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Renowned Film-maker Mira Nair at the Kolkata preview of
photographer Nemai Ghosh's exhibition Mira Nair. Photo: IANS

Mira Nair, who successfully took societal films like "Salam Bombay" and "Monsoon Wedding" to international audiences, feels the Indian film industry is "very much sexist" in its treatment of women.

In a freewheeling interview with IANS, starting from her filmmaking style to racism and sexism in the industry, the Indian-American director delved into issues like censorship in Indian cinema and the tough journey for the country's women to make a mark in an arena which continues to be largely sexist in its approach towards them.

"There are several more women directors and technicians in the Indian film industry than there are in the West. But, undoubtedly, it is still a very sexist industry in the way men refer to women or the way women are used in films here. I fear patriarchy is very much existent in the industry.

"I was very thrilled to know that a film such as 'Bareilly Ki Barfi' has been written and directed by a woman with such panache and grace. But I am sure it is not an easy task to make your way through in an essentially male dominated industry," she said, mentioning she had called "Bareilly..." director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and met her.

Nair, who faced the heat from the censor board for her film "Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love" that was banned in India for its erotic content, deplored the raging protests against Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Padmaavat" in some parts of the country and said censorship in Indian cinema has reached a "draconian level".

"I think the random instances of anybody making an objection to your film are getting more and more (hoarse) in India. It is a pretty terrible situation. Also, a draconian and sort of arbitrary level of censorship is going on. It is unfortunate."

"Although I believe negotiation can sometimes enhance creativity, it isn't exactly the recipe to nourish in a great country like ours, where any person can slap you up and burn you down. I deplore it. I really feel for Sanjay Leela Bhansali and his work," said the director of the much acclaimed "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" and "Mississippi Masala".

Nair, now busy with the stage version of her Golden Lion-winning film "Monsoon Wedding" in Broadway, also revealed her plans about her next project.

"I'm just about to start a real dream project, an eight-hour film. I am going to start it in the middle of the year and I am very excited because I have been planning it for many years. The whole of it will be shot in India and, of course, with Indian actors," she smiled.

The filmmaker, who once turned down an offer to direct "Harry Potter 4" to pursue "Namesake", based on Jhumpa Lahiri's novel, said she doesn't regret her decision as she prefers the "privilege of inspiration" more than the prospect of a blockbuster film.

"The decision was more from the heart. I believe in the privilege of inspiration and I was deeply inspired by the 'Namesake' at that point in my life as I too had lost a parent. I wanted to tell a story that was imbued with such a sense of melancholy and the sense of crossing bridges in India and the United States; those are the bridges I have known and crossed myself. I don't regret it for a minute," she said.

Read: Women Issues | After a 90-year wait, Minnie Mouse gets her Hollywood moment

The opinions expressed here do not reflect those of Malayala Manorama. Legal action under the IT Act will be taken against those making derogatory and obscene statements.

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