In a progressive move, the Kannada film industry is setting up a registered body that will address issues of gender rights and equality in the profession.
Called Film Industry for Rights & Equality (FIRE), the association aims to make the industry a safe and healthy work space for its members, The Times of India reported.
The brainchild of actor Chetan, FIRE will have actor Priyanka Upendra as the president along with a "group of eclectic people, each of them passionate about fighting for causes" who will be part of the executive committee. This team will comprise of professionals from various departments including choreographers, writers, actors and directors, along with legal experts on gender issues.
Talking about the initiative to TOI, Chetan said "FIRE aims to address and correct struggles in our film industry, making it a safe and welcoming work environment."
"In a patriarchal society like ours," he added, "nearly all professions are dominated by men and those with notions of male superiority. The cinema industry is no different. Those in positions of film power, from producers and directors to writers and stars, are often of one gender and many with supremacist ideas, marginalizing women in both representation and rights. Also, the desire to amass increased collections by catering to a primarily male audience base leads to further objectification of women onscreen, which may be the result of and/or resulting in prejudicial treatment against women at the workplace when the cameras aren't rolling as well."
In a Facebook post, the Aa Dinagalu star mentioned that the body's first plan of action is to "legally establish an 11-member Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to address sexual harassment & 'casting couch' in KFI".
"We hope our ICC will lead to women's talents and abilities being prioritized over inappropriate, immoral actions by men in our film industry today and, with the creation of their own ICCs, in other adjacent industries like television, fashion, etc., as well in the near future," he told TOI.
Priyanka said that FIRE will be "a united voice against all that isn't right". The body will also work on awareness and focus on issues that aspirants face. "FIRE's by-laws dictate that the president must be a woman, at least 50% of our committee members should be women, and elections will be held every three years," she noted.