Gone are the days of creating a project about a damsel in distress waiting for her prince to come and rescue her. Instead, it is time to usher in gender sensitivity, and allow women to take charge and fight for themselves in the narrative of projects under children’s films genre, say industry experts.
Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chief Prasoon Joshi feels one should be very conscious about gender sensitive while making a project for children.
“Gender sensitivity at the time of conceptualisation of films is important. I remember my 12-year-old daughter feeling empowered when she watched ‘Mulan’. It is important to be conscious of this particular thing,” Joshi said during a panel discussion on the position of children’s films in India and the way forward at the ongoing 48th International Film Festival of India here on Wednesday.
“We can’t just leave it to correct itself. We have to be conscious about gender sensitivity in our stories,” he added.
“Mulana is a story about a young woman who goes to war instead of her aging father, and overcomes obstacles.
Devika Prabhu, who looks after programming on channels for children for Disney, also opined similar views.
“Mulan’ is a wonderful example. It was a big shift to show that the girls are on the front foot and that they are willing to take a step. They are not waiting for someone to come and rescue them or determine their fate. The storytelling also needs to be more overt to see the change that we like to society to reflect,” she said.
Director Nitesh Tiwari, who has also made children-based films like “Chillar Party” and “Bhoothnath Returns”, said that he has always tried to balance the gender scale in his films.
Adding to it, Rajiv Chilaka — founder and managing director of Hyderabad-based Green Gold Animation and the creator of TV shows like “Krishna” and “Chhota Bheem”, said: “Before the launch of ‘Chhota Bheem’, we showed the pilot episode to boys and girls. After the screening, the boys were happy and excited, but girls were upset that a character named Chutki is not doing anything.”
“I had to tweak it and show that Chutki is coming up with all the ideas and Bheem is doing all the action.”
Joshi — who also recited his “Taare zameen par” at the panel discussion, questioned “why should a boy character do all the things and girls are just left to think of ideas?”
“I think there should be a conscious effort to bring the heroes out of girls,” he added.
The “Dangal” maker Tiwari also pointed out that the line distinguishing a children’s film is blurring.
“A film which has kids as protagonists need not be a film about children. And a film which doesn’t have kids at all can also be a film for kids. It depends on the subject and the content,” he said.
They also urged superstars and big production houses to come forward and support children’s films.