The story of a typical Bangla movie might seem to be repeating the same thing again and again. What happens if the father of a protagonist, usually a traditional male figure, is assassinated? The hero grows up, falls in love and avenges the death of his father. Coincidentally, the antagonist happens to be his going-to-be father in law. Some 'masala' scenes of action and dances are dropped in to liven up the story. That is more or less the plot of a typical Bangla movie. The roles of women go only as far as supporting the central male character or create unnecessary problems in a family life.
If we zoom into the storyline and analyze the plot, we find a deep philosophical or social reality of our culture where women are maltreated very often, or reduced to simpletons. The representation of female characters in the media is basically from the male perspective and women lack their own identity or freedom of choice, in real life, and on screen. They are seen either as goody two-shoes or catty mothers or mother-in-laws who create unnecessary problems in the family. This is actually the representation of our social reality. The scenario is similar around the world, where women on screen are reduced to object that titillate, or become one of a few fixed types – the loving and sacrificing mother who bears it all, the temptress who lures the hero into trouble, the side actress who offers a twist in the subplot – but seldom the central character around whom the story revolves. There's been endless talk about this, and protest from activists, but the scenario has not changed.
The lack of diversity of female character in our media is evident. Why the presence of female character are often marginalized or objectified in our movies or television productions might lie with the filmmakers, or even the audience. The producer or directors expect the female characters in stories to be fair, pretty and young, or perhaps they conform to a formulaic representation of female characters thinking that is what the viewers want to see. As a result, an aged female artist is not given the central role of a story. This is particularly strange given the emergence of female filmmakers, if they do not break the norm and challenge stereotypes, who will? Some female filmmakers like tag 'female', and often use it remain in a 'safe zone' and fend off criticism. But it is they who must accept the challenge, break the barriers and show the world how good and entertaining a movie with a real female character at its core can be.
Having a so many limitations in this industry, the conditions are still improving day by day. Positive trends are emerging and mainstream films are indeed becoming more open minded, albeit at a snail's pace. We have lots of young talents who are coming up with innovative ideas. Perhaps, the day when the representation of women in the media becomes true and real is not an era away.