Looks like Karan Johar has moved on from the topic of nepotism. The filmmaker who never shies away from voicing his opinions now spoke his heart out on Feminism, gender pay parity, objectification and the Harvey Weinstein case to SheThePeople.TV, India’s storytelling platform for women.
In an interview with SheThePeople.TV, producer Karan Johar thrashed the film industry for objectification of women and included an underconditional apology for having item numbers in his own films.
Karan Johar said that item numbers needed to go. The objectification of women in cinema and small screen is not acceptable. In an interview on Filmistani by SheThePeople, Karan said, "The moment you put a woman in the centre and a thousand men looking at her lustingly, it's setting the wrong example. As a film maker I have made those mistakes and I will never do it again."
He talked about why and how film played a big role in doing away with gender stereotypes and that the industry finally is taking notice of that. "Films set the fabric of our times. They can be immensely impressionable. When you show a man chasing a woman, it seems like it all so passionate in love but it could amount to stalking. When you show a man being abusive to a woman you think he is being angry but no, he is being wrong. Things you show on celluloid sometimes set a template. So we as film makers need to be very responsible. Sometimes you don't realise the things you write or project but you don't know that they will actually impact society," said the veteran producer.
When asked to identify and describe what feminism meant to him, Karan said that it was his inherent value given he grew up amidst a strong mother and powerful aunts.
"For for feminism is beyond what we know it is. It's hard for one word to encapsulate the power of a woman. Having the been raised by a wonderful and progressive woman, my mom and even my aunts – I think progressiveness was in my dna. To me it's my instinct to be a feminist…to have a progressive stance on what woman can achieve in the world. I am a total feminist."
"I don't know if I draw a distinction in my head. I just react to human beings no matter what gender they are. I have met women who have a certain more masculine energy about them. I am telling a story. If the woman has a lot to do in the film, then that's the story. My sense of belief in equality is such a part of my grain that I don't know how to disassociate from it," his interview noted.
Do you think it has given the entire industry a bad name? "Not at all. It gives you policing and accountability and that is a good thing. There are dark zones of the entertainment industry where there are powerful people taking advantage of their positions – sometimes sexually and sometimes otherwise. I am glad this is being covered by the media. Hopefully now people will think twice. Once you are in a position of power, you think you own everything, including their libidos. I don't think that's done. Anything that's mutual is great…if it's amiable. If it doesn't amount to any tragic use of power. These incidents, the Harvey Weinstein case and others that came out as a result of the Weinstein explosion, I think it's great. Conversation changes things. Fear psychosis has spread and everyone is being more careful. Not just in the film fraternity but fraternities across."
Of top 15 actors in the world, 14 are men. What's the reason for this? Is it because women led movies aren't big budget? Is it because women are not getting enough chance to be part of large scale movies? To the issue of pay parity in the entertainment Karan said, "I think this conversation is very integral and it's bringing truths to the surface." He went on to talk about the math of box office openings. "It's about a trajectory that everyone conforms to, which is as a result of the balance sheets they see. When a Shah Rukh Khan film does an X amount, and opens to that number on a Friday, you know that's why he gets that kind of money. But I am sure if a woman opened to that number, she would be totally achieving that. But then you would argue you don't give women a chance. And that is yes a point of argument. Everything big scale invariably is held by a man. But everything is changing. Tomorrow is about content. Wonder woman for example. It was in line with the boys, right up there with all male super hero films. Yes it is going to all change."