by Piyasree Dasgupta Jan 5, 2013 11:12 IST
So we are on a culture spring-cleaning spree. One that aspires to scrub most things 'popular' in our country off the face of earth. The first casualty, if we had our way, would be 'item songs'. No Chikni Chamelis and Chammak Challos, no badnaam Munnis searing you with an unabashed display of their 'halkat jawani' on 72mm, or closer home, on your television screens.
Because like you can see, there's something absolutely shameful about a woman flaunting her gorgeous mid-riff and dancing to a song while men drool. On and off screen. Now, if you can't see the sinister connection between Katrina Kaif cavorting at Hrithik Roshan singing, 'yeh toh trailer hai, puri fillum dikhane ayi' (this is just the trailer, the film is yet to be seen), and an alarming rise in cases of molestation and rape, you either have aspirations to becoming a chiffon-ed mummy that Yash Raj heroines are, or have no understanding of how the Indian society works or are just a man. Of the insensitive, Bollywood loving kind.
In times like these, if you refuse to subscribe to arguments like above, there are chances that you get labelled as a shameless perpetrator of misogyny. Because apparently, women, who offer themselves up as 'objects' when they dance to a suggestive, insinuating song in a film give out just the wrong signals. Signals, that, maybe sex offenders wait for, to jump on the next woman who comes their way?
Maybe there is a need to re-asses the cliches of Bollywood, rethink how the male gaze is represented in Hindi films, but assuming that it is the same that sparks cases of sexual assault is juvenile to say the least.
Not only because in our hot feminist heads, we are denying a woman her right to seek attention from whoever she wants, in whatever way she feels right and defeating our own lofty arguments backing a woman's right to her body, her freedom of expression, her right to seek male attention if she wants to - attention which does not ask for assault.
But also because we are undermining the intelligence of the people who are mostly likely to commit crimes like molestation and even rape. And that is dangerous.
A case of sexual assault, which mostly combines intimidation, cunning plotting to isolate the victim and in several cases days-long planning to target one woman, cannot possibly be committed by a person who gets carried away by the five-minute item number on big screen.
He is not dumb enough to read Kareena Kapoor's gestures on screen as an invitation from all the women of the world. He assaults us, because he knows it is in his power to do so and get away with it. And it is not Bollywood which gave him the reassurance - it was a slumbering police, an age-old tradition of silence in our country, which gave him that sense of power. Only today, the 23-year-old rape victim's friend and the sole witness revealed the cunning with which the whole incident was plotted, and, shockingly enough, how when they lay bleeding for 25 minutes on the roadside, not one person came forward to help.
If a criminal was to follow popular Hindi films by the book, the he would also be very scared of regular Bollywood justice - where the villain gets beaten up to pulp by the hero.
If he is cunning enough to know that our world doesn't have heroes dime a dozen, he also knows that the singing, dancing, whimpering heroine on screen is far removed from any average woman.
While Honey Singh's kinks and Malaika Arora's badnaami , might lend themselves to fiery intellectual debates, the reality, that thrives on trains, street corners or empty parking areas have little time for the above. They have never waited for Bollywood to ask them to strike. Hence screaming 'down with item girls' is losing out on a lot of time to scream and shout about things which can actually get our backs.
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