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10 Eye-Opening Revelations About Sexism In Bollywood From A Study Of Over 4,000 Films

A comprehensive analysis of Hindi movies released since 1970 has brought to light some undeniable truths about just how much Bollywood mistreats its female characters.

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Earlier this week, IBM and two New Delhi-based institutions released a public study of over 4,000 Bollywood films that looked into the disparities between their male and female characters.

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The study used an IBM dataset that included the Wikipedia pages of movies released between 1970-2017 (including plot summaries, soundtracks, and posters), and almost 900 trailers released between 2008-2017.

While no one can deny that there is a huge imbalance in the treatment of male and female leads in Bollywood, the analysis shows just how wide the gap actually is:

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1. In an average plot summary, male characters are mentioned twice as much female characters.

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The study revealed that a typical movie Wiki mentions male characters 30 times, as opposed to just 15 mentions for female cast members – a ratio that has been consistent since 1970.

2. Male leads are most described as "wealthy", "strong", and "successful", while female characters get stuck with shallow qualities such as "attractive" and "beautiful".

3. In terms of what characters do, the verb most associated with females is "marries", while male leads get to beat, kill, and shoot.

IBM / Via arxiv.org

Women also have to deal with getting molested a lot in Bollywood films, according to the data.

4. In their intro sequences, male characters enjoy profession-driven descriptors, while women are introduced through their appearance or relationship to a male character.

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Think "An honest government employee" for men vs. "A beautiful young girl" or "Daughter of xyz" for women.

5. The gender stereotypes are even more glaring when it comes to occupations. Female characters are stuck with being teachers or secretaries a shocking majority of the time.

IBM / Via arxiv.org

The leading occupations for male leads, meanwhile – doctors and police officers.

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6. But despite shortchanging female actors, producers aren't above using them extensively in promotions. More than half of all posters feature women prominently, even though only 20% of these movies mention female characters more than men.

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Films like Raees and Gangaajal mention female characters in their plot summaries a grand total of zero times.

8. An analysis of lead cast dialogues of some critically-acclaimed films sheds further light on the disparity. Only select films like Neerja, Queen, and Nil Battey Sannata give women more lines than the men.

9. It's not just the actors, though. Even female playback singers have had consistently fewer gigs than their male counterparts.

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