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Bollywood actor Subrat Dutta Talks Gender Inequality + Netflix Series ‘Selection Day’

April 14, 2019

ATM: What is the prevalence of the sport Cricket in India.

S: It is a religion in India. It is very popular in India sports. This is in my words because everyone follows Cricket. Most of the power. Everyone follows and loves it.

ATM: In a metaphorical way.

S: And provocative.

ATM: In America, basketball and football are seen like this.

S: Yes, it is.

ATM: How has Cricket influenced your country?

S: India is a vast and very big country. There are so many languages. This sport holds the country together.  

ATM: Basically, since everyone likes it. When they are together peace comes in ways that would not come if they were not indulging in the sport. This is the same way in my country with basketball and football. Other sports but mostly these. These sports bring people together that on an average day would not generally speak because of racism.

S: Exactly.

ATM: How does your character and main character look at sports?

S: My character is very disciplined, which is a part of the main character. However, my character is a broker. He is a very clever and typical Mumbai. He is jealous and grew up with the middle class. He is a good person, but not to the main character. I help the protagonist go further. I helped him in my own terms. I said he was weird. I said he could not fulfill his dream. I said it was impossible. I said why are you doing this. He said no I will succeed. There are a lot of politics behind this game.

ATM: Anything that is out of the normal consciousness of the black thinking you are deemed crazy. The outside entertainment talk trash about people in entertainment after they leave from their schools and etc. They are thinking about materialistic things not paying attention to their advice or positive words. There is a lot of jealousy. Especially when watching their shows and films. The entertainment has a different consciousness than the people in outside entertainment.

There are black people in the outside entertainment calling their own a coon and a nigger. So do not tell me you want change if the stereotype of the “white man” has moved to the outside entertainment black realm. And you want the white man to give you equality? My race, my kind. So, there is black racism in America.

S: Now, this sounds interesting. Here, It has not really stopped. It is actually trying to show the real reality, naked truth of Mumbai. Because of Suresh, Mohan’s dream is nothing but weird. Cricket is a very costly sports also. You need a ground, bat, pad, ball, gloves, helmet, and etc not like football.

ATM: Express the typical Mumbai as seen in the film in how they are in your Indian society?

S: Mumbai as a city. It has a socio-political structure and it is different from other parts of India because it’s the economical capital of India. It’s the costliest city in India & it has a lack of living space. Every day people come to Mumbai to fulfill their dreams like New York City. So, naturally, people depends on brokers to get a house on rent. So it’s big business in Mumbai. Normally they are clever, practical, experienced. In one word very good Salesman. My character Suresh is like this.

ATM: What are the politics that are behind it?

S: In the selection process maybe, someone is not so good. He got selected because he had a connection.

ATM: So, nepotism.

S: Yes, but not only. If I know you of no blood relation, then you are still my connection.

ATM: How does gender bias influence the politics of Cricket in India?

S: There is no gender bias. Cricket is a popular male team. The female Cricket team is not so popular in India. There is a woman national team. Maybe later. We were taught the game by the British before 1947. You?

ATM: This was the same year color barriers were being broken in America for blacks. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier this year in my country when he was constantly denied. Willie Mays and Larry Doby also broke color barriers later. Women are not even thought of in this Major League Sport. So, yes, no gender bias also.

S: Yes, and this is only one man’s dream of common people in India. So, it is the male protagonist’s dream in the film. If anyone can dream, then it can be fulfilled. The series is also on the struggle.

ATM: Explain the high male dominance behavior that was seen when you all learned this sport from the British and later developed into the ultimate dream in India.

S: In the beginning of the 19th and 20th century, we got with this game. After our independence in 1947 this game slowly became the most popular game played in India of all the sports. There was no gender bias in India. Now the female team is getting popular. As a society we should do more for the women in India. Also, in this Selection Day, it is all about selection and the politics behind selection. In addition, on the selection of a man’s dream. He is serious about fulfilling his dream. These are the points and things that try to explain.

ATM: There is a lot of differences in America to this degree. In India, women are getting recognized as a national team. However, in America, my country, my soil, women are not. You cannot slap names on things and make it appear to be progressing, no. Women in tennis give the same amount of strength as males but are given fewer games or sets to play. Males dominate the NBA. A WNBA player told me, “We do not even fill seats as close to the NBA males.” Imagine you are working and trained so hard, and the view is still looked upon in a patriarchal way. The WNBA women have to go overseas to make up for the large thousands and more to bridge the gap with what the males get paid. Oh, and baseball.

What is Softball? Really? It is 2019, almost 2020, and there is still no women’s national baseball team. Think about if these gender bias in America were lifted who could have become the greatest of these sports in the women gender. Even in India. Europe, Puerto Rico, and China, Australia, and other sectors of the world. Just think. But we cannot think about it, but it has not happened. These gender biases do not just live in America, but in different sports in cultures. Your country’s love for Cricket, is my country’s love for basketball.

S: Yes, I see, but also in India’s film industry there is a much more gender bias. Male protagonists get much more money than the female protagonists. This is a very gender bias. I feel in about five to ten years everyone would be the same. There is also gender bias in the northern parts of India.

ATM: Same in America. No matter how hard a woman works on a film/television in any entity, she is paid less.  The pay rate is very low for women.

S: Yes, it is in the same in America.

ATM: It is 2019. It is also progressing in America, but it sounds like it is more progressing faster and more rapidly in Bollywood.

S: More than 20% of the woman did it by working. There are so many cinematographers now in the last five years. Several women did cinematography, direction, writing, and others. Even the content is gender bias. There is 95% of the content about gender bias.

ATM: Ok in America, the pay rate might be slowly progressing. But the black woman and other women are starting more faster than India with dominating the storytelling in Hollywood. This has been visible within the last five years, but it was always happening. Some just create their own companies and make their own films. This is slightly different in America. The percentage has lowered to about 71%. It is not 95%. I know this because I talk to them all day; the women are more so taking over. It is visibly shown.

S: Also, in India with independent films that do not bother about gender bias. They just make and do a film. In this business it is about 40 or 60% percent. There are no corporations for consideration.

ATM: The film tax incentives regulate. If you have no tax incentives, then you have nothing coming in the way. I am not saying all tax incentives, but if someone allows it, the vision could get revised to show the dominance socialness in society. But for this, we have Netflix and other streaming platforms giving a voice to independent filmmakers. It is not the same percentages in this case in a good way.  

S: Correct.

ATM: How can nepotism negatively get in the way of someone who is trying to achieve something?

S: It existed in the middle century. This came from the king and queen in Britain. India is much more about family control and has gotten more democratic. This exist everywhere in every art form. You cannot wipe it out. Even in the 21st century, our prime minister was not from any big family. There are chances, but in the middle century it was different. If someone does not give the advantage, then he or she cannot do anything. From the beginning of the world, nepotism was always there. You cannot deny this.

ATM: Yes, I feel nepotism has run and is still running rapid in America too.

S: Yes.

ATM: Now, how is nepotism seen as a good factor in your society right now?

S: Everyone will not get a chance with every talented people. So, people get a chance. “He is so lucky.” Why is he lucky? There are so many talented people. He/she gets chances because that is lucky. If someone gets a chance, then it is like “Oh he is lucky.” If he is from a poor family or not a super popular family, then they are lucky when they make it big or what they do. This is what we call it.

ATM: There lens should not be open for everyone. If it is, then how would you know what is truly going to change things. The lens is so small that not everyone can be lucky. Not everyone in a metaphoric sense can have a selection day. There were other boys in this film that wanted to be selected, but they did not. A lot of people have dreams, but not everyone’s dream is going to get made. What is meaning to be will be. This is reality and this is honesty. How can you see the real dreamers out of the bunch? I said this in America’s outside entertainment a few years ago, some took it as negative. I was like look at society, it is true. The smaller it gets you see the people who want it or prone to getting luck. They were will start appearing.

S: This is very true. It exists. If someone wants to make it big in any sports or anything, they must be smart, talented, different and must have their own vehicle to achieve their dream.

ATM: People need to understand this.   

S: You are different. In the film, Radha is different. Everybody is different. This is the beauty and continuous process.

ATM: What is different is called weird in all societies.

S: Yes, this is happening everywhere in journalism, science, the learning process, and more.

ATM: But wait, wouldn’t what’s being considered normal was once considered weird before it gets the ‘normal’ lens or title. It is a cycle.

S: (Laughs). Yes, you are right, Gabrielle.  

ATM: How are fathers seen in Indian society?

S: In most of the Indian fathers are the boss of the family. However, in certain parts such as Northeast, South, the mothers are the boss of the families. It is very strong. 70% of fathers are the boss. Whereas, 30% is the boss. It is a stage. After marriage, men shifted to women’s house in certain places in India like in Meghalya.  

ATM: So, is this because a black/ minority racial divide like seen in America for the reason these men are kept out of the house or is it apart of the culture or social norms in Indian societies today?

S: It is a culture. Culturally the father is the boss. Everyone knows it in India.

ATM: In America, it has been systemically implemented in the black/Latino or minority culture. About 50 years ago about black fathers were a part of the household. But now? You have the American justice system that keeps them incarcerated on faulty charges and destroys the atmosphere and image of a black father. But you are saying India point of view is cultural but was not forced by white supremacy like in America. The black woman is left to raise the children and do everything in the house. See, this creates a generational curse for the black image and minority image. It is expected for you culturally in India but done politically in America.

S: Yes. Here it is expected because it is cultural for the mother raising the children. It is not forced.

ATM: Over here in America, it is done on purpose.

S: Our ancestor set it up in our more 2000-year culture. It lives in our genetic memory. It is to be expected and be done by my mother and my wife.

ATM: Umm.

S: Yep. What time is it in America right now?

ATM: Oh, it is 4:36 am EST Saturday, in New York.

S: Oh shit, I am so sorry to keep you up. It is around 2 pm IST on Saturday afternoon in India. Will you interview me on my other film?

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