Women’s Day 2024! Amrita Rao: A man doesn’t need ten semi-nude women dancing behind him to assert his heroism or machismo; this warrants change – Exclusive | – Times of India

Known for her versatility and captivating screen presence, Amrita Rao has portrayed a diverse range of characters, captivating audiences with her talent and charisma. ETimes got in touch with her on the occasion of Women’s Day for a freewheeling interview where she shared insights on the evolving portrayal of women in Bollywood, challenges faced by newcomers, empowering experiences on film sets, and the impactful role of movies in shaping societal attitudes. Excerpts…
How do you believe the portrayal of women in Bollywood films has evolved over the years, and what changes would you still like to see?
Indian cinema has always accorded equal importance to heroines in their scripts, evident from iconic films like Bandini, Sujata, Aarti, and Mother India. However, even as a child, I cringed at scenes in many movies where heroines were repeatedly depicted as somewhat naive and incapable of handling challenging situations. For instance, they often found themselves trapped even after confidently stating to the villain, “I know everything, I will inform the police.” This trend skewed towards empowering the heroes as smarter and stronger than heroines. Over the last two decades, particularly in music lyrics, there has been a significant decline in addressing women as objects of sexual desire in the most brazen manner. Moreover, a man doesn’t need ten semi-nude women dancing behind him to assert his heroism or machismo. This aspect certainly warrants change in Indian cinema.What challenges do you believe women face in the Indian film industry, and what steps can be taken to address them?
In the film and television industries, newcomers without strong family support may encounter unprofessionalism from directors or producers. They might be pressured into performing intimate scenes or difficult stunts beyond their capabilities, potentially resulting in injury. Fortunately, I did not face such situations due to my supportive family and management by Tips Films. Nevertheless, budding artists should ensure protective contract clauses and have family members or respected managers present on set. Moreover, the inclusion of an ‘intimacy coordinator’ on sets can ensure comfort for artists signing up for on-screen intimacy.
Can you share an experience where you felt empowered while working on a film set?
My entry into movies was marked by consecutive box office hits, instantly establishing me as “Amrita Ji” in the film industry. The empowering aspect for me was being in a position where I could politely decline roles, even from top banners or directors, if they included scenes I wasn’t personally comfortable with. Thankfully, all directors respected my decisions graciously.

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In your view, what impact can movies have on shaping societal attitudes towards women and gender equality?
Movies wield significant influence and can shape societal attitudes towards women and gender equality. Repetitive portrayal of women being eve-teased or accepting violence from men can normalize such behaviors, especially among young audiences in rural areas. To rectify attitudes and reverse such thinking, impactful movies promoting gender equality are crucial.
What advice would you offer aspiring actresses striving to make their mark in Bollywood while staying true to themselves?
Stay true to yourself and resist changing to fit the world’s idea of success. Define your own success and avoid entering the industry with a mindset of doing anything for success, as it may lead to exploitation. Always have a guardian by your side, and remember, you are answerable only to your conscience.

Lastly, how do you plan to celebrate International Women’s Day this year, and what message would you like to convey to your fans and followers?
I am blessed to be meeting Asha Bhosle ji on International Women’s Day as she rehearses for her live concert ‘Asha at 90 years’ in Mumbai. Hosted by my husband RJ Anmol, this event is a perfect celebration for me. Asha ji’s voice has been my inspiration since childhood, instilling a love for cinema and its heroines. As the only legend in the world to perform at 90, we are proud she belongs to our blessed soil!

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