Veteran actress and activist Shabana Azmi along with Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) member Vani Tripathi Tikoo and filmmaker Divya Khosla were among those who gathered at the Ficci Frames 2018 for a panel discussion in Mumbai on Monday.
In the panel discussion, she was asked about her opinion on actresses who practise their right of "my body, my choice", especially in item numbers in Bollywood films.
Talking about this, Shabana said filmmakers should be more responsible in depiction of women's body on screen, because the business of cinema is of images.
Azmi said: "When a leading lady says that 'it's alright, I want to celebrate my sensuality in those songs', I have no problem with that. But under the pretence of 'celebrating your sensuality' what you are actually doing is surrendering to the male gaze and objectifying yourselves because the business of cinema is of images."
"When you see the fragmented bits of a woman's body, you see heaving bosom, swinging navel, shaking hips... you are robbing the woman of all autonomy, completely," she explained.
Citing an example, the actress said: "In Zoya's film 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara', a scene shows leading lady Katrina Kaif coming out of the water wearing a bikini and wear her bathrobe. The camera does not go close to her, does not show her bosom. But on that very shot, if the director had decided to go over the top, it would have been objectification. So the intention needs to be clear."
Shabana Azmi also said people in India are simultaneously living in different centuries in various parts of the country.
Considering the presence of women at workplace increasing in India and, at the same time, the incidence of sexual violence growing, is gender equality an outdated topic of conversation?
"Firstly, let's acknowledge the fact that India is living in many centuries in different parts of the country simultaneously. Yes, we have a woman President, woman Prime Minister, woman politicians, but at the same time there are several girl children being killed because they are girls... both the realities co-exist," Shabana said.
"We talk about education, but often education re-enforces the gender stereotype and role play," added the actress, who also stressed that the definition of masculinity needs to be changed.
Tikoo thinks the conversation could have been outdated if there would have been equal opportunity everywhere.
"The conversation holds relevance. The idea of a woman being as good as a man to compete should be stopped but why to compare? The competition should be with oneself and not with a man.
"Who says they are supreme? Therefore, I think unless we are breaking away from the stereotypical idea of gender and role play set by the society and culture, the constant conversation on gender equality will remain relevant and not outdated," she added.
Ficci Frames, which began on Monday, will conclude on March 7.
(with IANS inputs)