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Looking beyond the glamorous presence at Cannes: Aishwarya Rai participates in women's summit to talk about gender inequality

News18.com

Updated: May 21, 2015, 1:08 PM IST
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Looking beyond the glamorous presence at Cannes: Aishwarya Rai participates in women's summit to talk about gender inequality
Aishwarya, who has been representing India on the red carpet, managed to speak a bit about the gender bias that exists in the showbiz industry.

London: Floral print gown designed by Sabyaschi Mukherjee and red pouts was not all that was discussed about Aishwarya Rai at the 68th Cannes International Film Festival. The actress, who has been making an appearance at Cannes for more than a decade now as the brand ambassador of L'oreal Paris has rampantly faced bouquets and brickbats on her outfits at the festival for her choice of wardrobe at the red carpet. Thankfully, she was different this time.

Aishwarya participated in the panel discussion highlighting the gender stereotype. While the media frenzy continued to be on the designer outfit and style-quotient of the actresses, it was reassuring to see actress looking beyond the glamorous avatar.

One wonders about how much time was slotted for Aishwarya Rai to speak at the session. Considering that issue of sexism is so predominant in Indian film industry that it is more often than not swept under the carpet and dismissed as a non issue. Actresses reduced as mere prop star besides the hero and given less remuneration than the male actor are just few ailments, to begin with. Given an option, probably, Aishwarya could have spoken all day about gender bias and male dominance in Bollywood. Alas, that was not to be.

The west once again took the centre stage on a topic which is more widespread in India than anywhere else in the world.

The session on 'Women in Motion' hosted by Variety magazine and UN Women's HeforShe campaign, was largely taken over by Mexican American actress Salma Hayek, who slammed the Hollywood studios and its myopic view on choice of films. She came out in the open to talk about how "cinema undermines women's intelligence." Salma's film 'The Tale Of Tales' by Matteo Garonne was in the competition entry while she pointed at the stereotypical mindset of the Hollywood Studio executives. Hayek revealed her observations on how Hollywood doesn't see women as an "economic force." Pointing at their incredible ignorance, Salma stressed at Hollywood's lack of business vision.

Aishwarya Rai, who is gearing up with her comeback vehicle 'Jazbaa', directed by Sanjay Gupta will launch the first trailer at Cannes. The film also features stalwarts like Shabana Azmi and Irrfan Khan. Films focussing largely on woman, directed and produced by women are considered to be niche in India. The approach of the filmmakers as well as the audience changes as soon as they watch a film targeted as 'women-oriented'.

It's shocking that the international market especially Hollywood, which was presumed to be a free, fair and unbiased industry, suffers from similar melancholic attitude. Aishwarya pointed that even in international markets; a film starring woman prominently is considered to be a niche product. Bachchan highlighted at the fact how it was pretty much the same "everywhere across the globe." "We keep coming back to reiterating preconceived ideas."

Aishwarya, who has been representing India on the red carpet, managed to speak a bit about the gender bias in showbiz. The other participants at the session were Under Secretary-General UN Women Elizabeth Nyamayaro, actress Parker Posey, producers Elizabeth Karlsen and Christine Vachon and Variety Co-Editor-In-Chief Claudia Eller.

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