Film-makers and the entertainment industry as a whole play a vital role in establishing the importance and shaping up a certain mindset and perception of the society towards a certain gender. While some content has focused on empowering women, changing the norms and attitude towards women, there is still a gap that exist.
With Sherdil on its way, and Heer Maan Ja releasing on Eid ul Azha, Azfar Jafri has previously given memorable films like Parchi, Janaan and thriller Siyaah.
Janaan brought forward a beautiful story that touched base with the audience. On the other hand we saw a completely different and unique avatar in form of gangster Eman in Parchi. Both films negated the common notion of suppressed and dependent women in our society.
Azfar is one of those film makers who believes in telling a different story rather than stereotypical run of the mill content. However there needs to be more women centric content than the limited number of dramas and films out there.
To highlight the importance of filling this void,we reached out to the Janaan director Azfar Jafri to get his views!
Why do you think it is important to make female-centric content in films/dramas?
Our dramas are very women-centric compared to films.However, I have noticed a shift to a more women in distress roles than in the 80s, where women were strong and opinionated. Today, drama content not is pushing the envelope to bring change in the society. It’s more of an entertainment medium than bringing in mindset change.
As a filmmaker, I see that women roles are not important enough in the film. Our audience is not used to watching women heroes. However, Janaan was very women-centric film and it resonated with the audience. This means as filmmakers we have a responsibility to bring stronger women centric content.
We see a lot of TV content esp reinforcing stereotypes which often undermine women,what are your views on it?
The content in films and dramas can not be restricted to a certain type of roles. It is important that drama/films also depict the problems in society. But at the same time, the content should also have characters that one could aspire to be. A strong woman who could take on this world. A determined woman who could achieve her goals. A woman who brings change in the society. When as a country we are not short of strong independent women, when we are one of the Countries who had a woman Prime Minister, when we are progressive nation with a lot of women role models, then why must we reduce the content to stereotyped roles.
How important do you think is “The damsel in distress avatar” for the success of a drama?
That have damsel in distress only. It is good for ratings. It is a public demand. But a drama like Zindagi Gulzar Hai was well received. There is a gap in the market for a well written empowered women-centric dramas and films. The audience I feel wants to see more interesting stories. It lies in the art of storytelling.
While damsel in distress model is a tried and tested formula, with the increase in awareness and talks on inclusiveness, media as well as audiences are open to change. It is high time that film and drama makers take the leap. Like Azfar believes it is all about the art of story telling!