ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Women in Cinema Collective and the Malayalam Film Industry

In May 2017, in a pioneering move, a group of women creative workers from the Malayalam film industry formed the Women in Cinema Collective to address gender issues in the sector. The formation of the collective not only challenges the patriarchal world view of Indian cinema, but has dragged into the limelight the ugly underbelly of commercial film-making controlled by cliques, cartels, and celebrity power. On a more positive front, it prepares the ground for women who are joining the film industry in larger numbers to lay claim to legitimate spaces for self-actualisation and creative satisfaction.

In May 2017, the Malayalam film industry witnessed an unprecedented development: a section of its women creative workers joined together to form the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC), to address gender issues in the industry. They have presented a set of demands to the state administration, which include the formation of anti-harassment cells during film production, increased representation of women on movie sets, equal remuneration, and a safe working environment throughout the film-making process for female artists and technicians. The Government of Kerala has responded by constituting a committee under K Hema, a retired judge of the high court, to investigate the working conditions of women in the Malayalam film industry (Deccan Chronicle 2017).

What circumstances led to the birth of a collective exclusively for women in an industry that prides itself on having numerous associations and trade unions that represent every activity within its value chain? Why should this new entrant—currently an informal group of concerned women film workers—be marked out as distinctive in the already dense associational geography of the mighty South Indian film business? To answer these questions, one must delve into the recent history of the Malayalam cinema industry.

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Updated On : 18th Dec, 2017

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