It was four days ago that actor Prithviraj came forward saying he will never again let disrespect for women be celebrated in his movies. This has become a discussion in and around the tinsel town and many have lauded him for this brave decision. But later, critics started tracking down the anti-woman dialogues in the films released in Malayalam. Apparently, noted writer-director Ranjith was also caught in a controversy after he replied to an article which criticised a dialogue in his film released back in 2012. The main demand which can be seen in social media and film-related camps is that the writers and directors should take the lead to avoid anti-women content in their films as it has been pointed as one of the reasons behind the many atrocities in society. Is it practical, writing a screenplay to suit such parameters?
Quizzed about this, noted writer-director Renji Panicker says, “It is an unnecessary topic. We are creating characters not with an agenda to create a male or female for the story. I am not a writer of fantasy films. As I am a writer of normal films, the characters are inspired by those around us. In fact, many male characters are being slapped and killed in different films. So will it come under the tag line - Man assault?” Renji points out that equality of women is absent in our society. “Out of 140 MLAs, how many women members are there in our Assembly. Women are still not allowed to enter the Sabarimala Temple. Similarly, many incidents and attitudes in our society are being reflected in my films. In Mahabharatha, there is an incident called Panchali Vasthrakshepam. There are certain incidents and characters in great epics, which can be interpreted as anti-women, if the criticism goes by these standards.”
Sanjay, who penned the screenplays of films such as Traffic and How Old Are You along with his brother Bobby, feels that it is necessary to avoid glorifying anti-women content. “The first decision we had taken while entering screenwriting was to avoid such content. Since our first film till the last one, we have followed that. But that does not mean that we won’t include scenes in which a woman is being physically or verbally abused. The point is that we won’t glorify such incidents. For example, in our film Mumbai Police, there is a scene in which our protagonist is attacking a woman. But we did not glorify that and in a later scene, another character is found criticising the protagonist for that act,” he says.
Sanjay feels that yet another style to be changed is using differently-abled characters to create comedy sequences. “Some films use mentally unstable characters for comedy sequences. It should be changed,” he says. Does he think that the crime in cinema is influencing society? “I think it does have an influence. If you ask a person about his definition of beauty or style, the answer will be connected to films. So in that way, if cinema can positively influence a person, it is also capable to influence a person negatively.” Actor-screenwriter Murali Gopy feels that cinema does not negatively influence society. “I do not think that a society is going wrong just because of movies. The most horrible crimes committed against humanity happened before the advent of films. When it comes to anti-women content in films, I feel glorifying such content is a wrong practice,” he says.
Screenwriter director Sreebala K Menon feels that audience should reject films with such a story. “We are talking about commercial films which are eyeing money. These films come with content with demand in the market. So when the writer or director include for the dialogues with dual meaning, they judge that these have market value. Normally, they come up with such films again. The main problem starts when women in our family face such comments when they go out. So if the audience decide to reject such films, naturally the number of such films will go down in future,” she points out....