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When will Indian cinema stop objectifying women?

By Anindita Dev | Last Updated: Friday, November 28, 2014 - 18:24
 
Anindita Dev
Anindita Dev
 

We Indians are a hypocritical lot. At one end, we shout our hearts out for equal rights for women, we want to be respected and taken seriously but at the other end, we let the film industry define feminine stature.

Yes, the portrayal of women in our Bollywood films is downright demeaning and there are hardly any of us who have actually ever voiced our concerns.

How many times has the question of sexual objectification and commodification of women in Indian film industry been raised? Plenty! But every time it is quite conveniently brushed aside without a second thought.

Why? Is it because we have become accustomed to the raunchy and indecent jibes that Bollywood actresses are a part of?

With every passing year the role of female protagonists in films has been reduced to the bare minimum. Just a few dance steps on a heavily glamourised song and that's about it.

Is there a dearth of roles for good actresses in Bollywood movies?

We have absolutely no qualms when Salman Khan dances around with Jacqueline Fernandez' skirt tucked in his mouth, in `Jumme Ki Raat` from `Kick`. The song was a super hit and so were the dance moves. Not only was the number received with hooting and jeering in the theatres, people were seen blindly aping the song's moves.

After all, he is a superstar and everything he does can be overlooked. But we cannot deny the fact that Indian mentality and the mindset of the youth, especially men, is partly made up by Indian cinema and how women are depicted in it. Indian cinema contributes considerably to the way our women are treated in the society.

Even the songs these days that are used to depict women disgust me to the core. Take a certain rapper's song `Tu Ladki Beautiful, Kar Gayi Chul`... What could be more sad and degrading than the lyrics of the song? And the irony is that songs like these blare loudly in nightclubs and in the stereos of cars and go on to top the charts. No one condemns it. But when it comes to protesting, eve-teasing or stalking or rape, we Indians are at the forefront without understanding that we ourselves are encouraging the objectification.

We have no objection in shaking a leg or two at dirty or cheap songs or glue our eyes to the screen to watch women jiggling and swaying to some gross number. We are comfortable watching them on-screen.

Hardly do we come across a movie which is not sexist. It is quite disturbing to watch a movie and see how women are pitted against men. Even to attract the love of a 'worthy' man they have to look beautiful and be miss goody two-shoes, added to which is the burden of being the `sarvagun sampanna bharatiya nari’.

Just the other day, I was watching a movie in which the actress who plays an independent working girl, has a mind of her own, loves her boyfriend unconditionally but still has to face his rejection over her best friend who plays a homely timid one.

Double standards anyone?

We demand higher education for women, but movies like these bring out the harsh reality that is evident in our society.

Why is a modern independent working girl not good enough for the guy, than the one who is more traditional in her approach? Seriously! Don't we have an identity of our own?

Then again we have these women oriented movies. It is downright comical that in `Mardaani', Rani Mukerji tackles goons single-handedly but the name chosen for her is `Mardaani`(to be like a man). As if being a woman doesn't make her strong enough.

It was infuriating to watch the way Deepika Padukone's character was humiliated in `Happy New Year` (one of the biggest blockbusters of 2014). The lead hero goes on to compare her to the lowest of the lows of the society, defiling her, insulting her at every opportunity, and yet she takes everything in stride and still keeps falling in love with his character.

Like really? I am stupefied. 'HNY' broke all records at the BO; 'Kick' too did rather well. But the message these films send out to the millions of people who watch these movies is that girls are just to be objectified and leered at.

Little do we think about the deep impact these movies leave on the mind of on-lookers. That is how the mindset will be rooted until and unless we do something about it. Which I assume will be not happen. Because we are so star-struck that reason fails us.

Even feminists are quick to judge men but they forget that until and unless women themselves stop their own sexual objectification, their status is bound to remain where it is today.

Shouldn't cinema be a medium to bring a change in our society rather than keep re-instilling derogatory and regressive values prevalent since the dark ages?

I fail to see any sort of substantial or meaningful roles that Bollywood divas take up today, and don’t think the scenario it will change anytime soon.

We love superstars on-screen and most of us follow them religiously, or even the roles that they play on-screen.

I would not like to point a finger at any one film personality, but I cannot ignore the evident hypocrisy in Indian cinemas either. It is time for change!

 

 

 

First Published: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 15:16

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