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bollywood, films, women

Gender bias in South Asian film industry?

Critically renowned Indian Filmmaker, Aparna Sen, was on a panel at the New York Indian Film Festival today, talking about her work and whether she has experienced “gender bias” in the industry.

Sen said: “I am often asked what it’s like to be a women in a male-dominated industry and I’ve always said that I haven’t come across any gender bias.”

Sen explained: “A film unit is a bunch of very disciplined individuals and when they know that you know the job they shut up and listen and do what they are asked to. It’s only when you are nonplussed that they won’t take you seriously.”

I have often heard women, in competitive industries who have male connections (like Sen) or who have such force-of-nature personalities that they just steamroll through to get what they want, make this kind of comment. There is truth to it, but that doesn’t mean there are not hurdles for women in less fortunate positions than Sen. The Bengali filmmaker did later go on to say that there was an invisible boy’s club.

Others on the panel included, Vaishali Sinha talking discussing her documentary film, Made In India, about a western couple seeking an Indian woman for a surrogacy contract, and Bela Negi,  on her film, Daayen Ya Baayen, about a man trying to find his dignity in poor village.

A great antidote to mainstream Bollywood.


About Herpreet Kaur Grewal

Herpreet Kaur Grewal is a newspaper-trained journalist, editor and commentator. She formerly wrote and edited a section for the social policy and politics magazine Regeneration & Renewal. She has worked for The Times of London and her articles have featured in The Guardian, The Observer and The Daily Express. She specialises in social deprivation issues, gender, human rights , arts and culture.


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Herpreet Kaur Grewal is an editor and journalist currently based in London.

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