Women hold just 8% key HOD positions in Indian film industry

MUMBAI:held a paltry 8% of the head of department (HOD) roles in Indian films in 2019 and 2020, the first of its kind study on the representation of women in Indian films by media consulting firm Ormax Media and digital platform Film Companion found.

A total of fivewere analysed for the report across the sector—direction, writing, cinematography, editing and production design.

And the report, titled ‘O Womaniya,’ took into consideration a total of 129 films across Hindi and four southern languages.

As per the report, only 6% of films were directed by women and the department that reported highest women representation was production design at 15%.

In cinematography, women had just 2% female.

Keiko Nakahara was the only female director of photography (DoP), whose work on ‘Tanhaji,’ ‘Shakuntala Devi’ and ‘Total Dhamaal’ made up the the entire 2% share of women in the cinematography department in films in 2019 and 2020.

“While the topic of pay parity and inequality in cinema keeps coming up during multiple discussions and forums, there is no hard data on gender inequality in Indian cinema industry. So, we decided to research this subject,” said Shailesh Kapoor, founder & CEO, Ormax Media.

Out of the films released in 2019 and 2020, 100 were released in theatres, while remaining 29 were released directly on video streaming platforms.

For theatrical films, box office footfalls were used as the parameter of selection, while for direct-to-OTT films, a combination of YouTube views and Ormax Advocacy (likeability) Score was used.

Anupama Chopra, film critic and founder of Film Companion, said the entire industry knew that it wasn’t a level playing field but there was never enough data available for the.

“I always wondered what numbers would be like and it was shocking to see that 92% of all key departments are headed by men. We would like to highlight and put the problems in front and centre and hope it pushes the people to change.” Chopra told ET.

Overall, writing and editing departments saw 10% and 7% women HODs, respectively.

Incidentally,or the Hindi film industry, is much better compared to the South Indian cinema industries.

If only Bollywood is considered, the ratio of female HODs is 16%, compared to an abysmal 1% in South Indian films.

Another interesting finding of the report was that most of the big blockbusters failed the most basic ‘Bechdel Test’, an Internationally accepted measure of female representation in cinema.

For a film to pass the Bechdel Test, it must have at least one scene in the film in which two named female characters are having a conversation that’s not about a man or men.

“The Bechdel test has been criticised globally for being too basic and 70% of Hollywood films pass this test. In India, 59% of the films we reviewed failed this test,” Kapoor added.

Some of the films that failed the test include ‘Bharat,’ ‘Tanhaji,’ ‘Houseful 4,’ ‘Article 15,’ ‘Uri: The Surgical Strike,’ ‘Darbar’ and ‘Soorarai Pottru.’

Even in film marketing, the male actor’s voice was given prominence.

Out of the total duration of the films’ trailers, women had one 19% talk time. Out of 129, only 10 films had more than 50% female trailer talk time, the study found.

Humility, Workplace Policies & Encouraging Women’s Ideas: 5 Steps To Gender Parity


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Women Power

The International Labour Organisation estimates that two-thirds of the jobs lost globally due to Covid-19 belonged to women.

According to ET Evoke report, various surveys find that achieving gender parity at work can add $28 trillion or 26% to global GDP by 2025. India alone could add $770 billion or 18% to its GDP by 2025 if it enabled half of its productive workforce — women.

Here’s how companies can achieve gender parity.

Research: Harvard Business Review, The Washington Post, Forbes