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'Unstereotyping' cinema is a way of doing away with patriarchy: Amitabh Behar, Oxfam India CEO

On the sidelines of the Oxfam 'Women In Film' brunch, Oxfam's Behar shared the aim of the initiative and the way forward.

Keyur Seta

Oxfam India organized the ‘Women In Film’ brunch on Sunday (28 October) in Mumbai with the theme of 'Cinema Beyond Stereotypes'.

The brunch hosted the makers of eight films nominated for the Best Film on Gender Equality award. These films are being screened at the ongoing Mumbai Film Festival.

Amitabh Behar, CEO of Oxfam India, spoke exclusively to Cinestaan.com on the initiative's aim and the way forward. 

“We work on gender justice and we work locally," Behar said. "But we realized that local interventions are incomplete because the macro picture and culture is often very much against the ideas we are talking of.” 

Oxfam realized that it is necessary to tap into films to achieve its aim. “When we started looking around, we understood that, at least in this country, Bollywood [mainstream Hindi cinema] is the most important shaper of that macro culture,” he said. That is how the idea of partnering with the Mumbai Film Festival came about.

“We were looking for opportunities," Behar continued. "MAMI [Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image, which organizes the festival] came as a good opportunity for us to connect, where we started saying how do you systematically look at changing the narrative from a patriarchal one to a gender just one.”

This is the third edition of Oxfam India Awards. Speaking about the journey so far, he added, “I think it has been a remarkable journey. We are just growing in strength. Even in terms of the number of films, this year we have eight. It just means there is a greater number of films, which kind of reflect the gender ethos we are talking of. And I am very confident that this will grow because globally also there is this great momentum around questions of gender.” 

Oxfam India has been working towards 'unstereotyping' cinema and Behar is happy that this is increasingly happening in films. “I would say that lately you also have a lot of films which are doing the unstereotyping. And we want to build on that,” he said. 

However, Oxfam India's aim is to go beyond cinema. “And unstereotyping is just a way of saying that we don’t want patriarchy to continue. We want it to change. And we want a society which is gender just,” Behar asserted.

Related topics

MAMI Oxfam Gender Equality Award