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Gender-Neutral Awards Should Be Welcomed: Bhumi Pednekar

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Mumbai: Versatile Bollywood star Bhumi Pednekar is the first leading actress in India to envision award ceremonies to be gender-neutral in the near future. Her reasoning is based on what’s happening in award ceremonies the world over.

Recently, the Berlin Film Festival has awarded its first ever gender-neutral acting prize to Maren Eggert. The new award means both male and female actors now compete in the same category. The Gotham Awards announced that their best-actor and best-actress prizes are being combined into a single lead-performance category, starting with this year’s November ceremony.

The Emmys announced that, beginning in 2021, any acting trophy can replace “actor” or “actress” with the neutral term of “performer,” even as they maintain gender-separated competition. The Venice Film Festival is also following the Berlin festival to award gender-neutral prizes.

Bhumi says, “Over the course of last year, it was hugely encouraging to see award functions do away with gendered awards. Even from our context, if strong enough roles continue to be written for women and other genders, we can eventually reach a space where we have gender neutral awards.”

She adds, “An artiste should be known for the kind of work that one does and not seen from the lens of gender. I see each one of us as artists who can do their bit to achieve parity.”

Bhumi feels calling all actors as performers is a step forward in the right direction. She says, “We all know that we live in a non-binary world and I feel such steps will only promote inclusivity. It will be a welcoming step towards embracing all genders. It is high time that we break these walls and celebrate raw, real talent without the filter of the gender.”

And we take a note of it, Bhumi!

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