When Indian actress Divya Unny flew into the southern state of Kerala in 2015, she thought it was for a business meeting with an award-winning director. She was called to his hotel room at 9pm, where he told her she would have to make compromises if she wanted to succeed in the industry. Unny said she rejected the advances of the director, whom she declined to name, and left without a role in the movie.
Three other women involved in India’s film industry, the world’s largest, told Reuters that her experience is not unique. “Men are being called out in Hollywood (but) I don’t know if it can happen in India,” said director Alankrita Shrivastava. “In terms of how our psychology is, how patriarchy functions, it (male empowerment) is much more entrenched”.
The vast majority of Bollywood’s biggest producers and film-makers are men, many from prominent film families who until recently controlled most of the industry.
Earlier this year, Gopalakrishnan Padmanabhan Pillai, a popular actor in the Malayalam film industry, was arrested by police who accused him and several others of kidnapping and molesting an actress. He denies the accusations.
Kangana Ranaut is one of the few Bollywood actresses who have publicly spoken out about the sexual assault and harassment. “I’ve read some stories (about harassment) shared by a few prominent people but most people find it hard to open up about such experiences,” she said. “Victim shaming is very common in our society, it’s done brutally and openly.” – Reuters