Sexist rant: Things to 'learn' from Prakash Jaju's tweets about Priyanka Chopra

Rohini Nair

Apr 05, 2016 09:06:33 IST

Priyanka Chopra’s former manager Prakash Jaju has come under fire for claiming that the actress attempted suicide “2-3” times during the time he was in her employ.

 Sexist rant: Things to learn from Prakash Jajus tweets about Priyanka Chopra

Priyanka Chopra and Prakash Jaju

In a series of tweets that he posted over Sunday and Monday, Jaju alleged that Priyanka, who had come to Mumbai from Bareilly to pursue her modeling and acting career, was suffering from loneliness and depression and that relationship issue (he has claimed that she was dating model Aseem Merchant at the time) further exacerbated her “suicidal” tendencies.

Jaju’s tweets on Priyanka followed a discussion on Balika Vadhu actress Pratyusha Banerjee’s suicide on April 1.

Priyanka’s mother Madhu Chopra rebutted Jaju’s claims, also on Twitter.

However, Jaju’s comments didn’t just pertain to Priyanka (who he has made a habit of tweeting negatively about).

He had some very “learned” observations to make about womankind in general, and actresses in particular. Oh, and on a side note, he also had some “words of wisdom” about live-in relationships and the causes of depression. Here is what we learned from Mr Jaju’s tweets.

That 18-19 year old girls lack intelligence

Jaju’s specific comment in this respect was “18-19 saal ki ladkiyon mein kahaan hoti hai akkal?” (he tweeted this in context to his claims about Priyanka).

Biology does tell us that teenagers — girls and boys — can be impulsive, have poor judgment and their decision making skills are still developing, because their brains are wired differently than adults.

But to say that a teenage girl does not have any intelligence, and that without a benevolent protector, she might deliberately engage in self-destructive behaviour (as Jaju’s tweet implies) reeks of condescension. Jaju may want to be acquainted with young women (and men) who know — even at the age of 19 — what they want to do with their lives, and how they want to accomplish their goals. Yes, they may on occasion, make the wrong choices or be less able to cope with stress and frustration than slightly older counterparts. But then again, most adults find the world, and daily life, difficult to navigate. So maybe we should give teens a little leeway?

That live-in relationships always end badly for women

Jaju is deeply, deeply concerned about women in live-in relationships. He exhorts them not to let such arrangements continue for too long and to get married as soon as possible. Wait too long, he says, and “the guy loses interest” (gasp!).

It’s a pity that at a time when the Indian judiciary has given partners in live-in relationships the same sorts of rights and protections as those married couples enjoy, Jaju is vocalising an attitude that’s a throwback to the Dark Ages.

Does he believe that it is not possible for a woman to “lose interest”? Or does he just think that most members of the male species are so endlessly fascinating that no woman in her right mind would ever consider walking out on one? Or even, that marriage is the sole goal of most women? The Victorian era is over; women have more than marriage on their minds.

The only reason for depression is loneliness

Here’s a sample of what Jaju has to say on the very serious problem of depression — “the only reason (for it) is loneliness”. He further goes on to say that when an individual is surrounded by family, one is less likely to commit suicide.

Family — providing that it’s a loving, supportive one and not a dysfunctional one — can be an invaluable safety net. And loneliness is definitely one cause of depression. But it is not the only cause. Genetics, biological/chemical factors, substance use, medical issues, stress, anxiety — the causes of depression are multiple. It is a disservice to those who suffer from this very serious condition to claim that merely the presence of your family is a cure, when a mix of medication, counseling and other interventions are needed for one to effectively combat depression.

That parents should not “send their daughters” to work in the film industry

Among Jaju’s concerns is “parents sending their daughters to work in the entertainment industry”, when they may have heard of what a bad world it is. It angers him, he says, especially when they choose not to accompany their children to the big bad city, to watch over them. It is this these young women who then go on to commit suicide, Jaju implies.

Because cases of celebrities committing suicides get an inordinate amount of press, the assumption is that it is a greater issue in the entertainment industry. Every time a case of suicide comes up — such as that of Pratyusha Banerjee — we immediately associate it with instances of other celebrities: actress like Jiah Khan, models Nafisa Joseph and Viveka Babajee, Silk Smitha, etc.

The next step is to connect the pressures of the glamour/entertainment industry with these suicides, and make an assumption that young women, in particular, are unable to cope in this environment.

But what about male suicides? What about a Robin Williams, Guru Dutt or Manmohan Desai? Or the most recent case, that of Tamil actor Sai Prashanth? How does this fit into the “young women can’t cope” theory?

Or how about all those reports that have touched on the high rates of suicide among housewives, farmers and students? Would Jaju also exhort parents to not send their children to IIT because students there have attempted suicide?

That actresses can’t achieve success on the strength of their talent

In his tweets, Jaju claims that Priyanka got the films that she did, only because of him. To those who pointed out that Priyanka’s career has only moved from strength to strength (since the time she severed all professional ties with Jaju in 2004) his response was to the effect that once you give someone the initial push to start them on their journey, reaching a particular destination is inevitable. In fact, he goes on to say that had Aishwarya Rai contracted his services, her Hollywood career would have been even better. He didn’t have a similar point to make about any male actors.

It was just a little while ago that rapper Kanye West faced a global backlash for claiming that pop star Taylor Swift owed her fame to him. When Swift won at the 2016 Grammy Awards, she made it a point to tell her female fans that they shouldn't let anyone take their success away from them.

"As the first woman to win album of the year twice, I want to say to all the young women out there, there are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or you fame," she said.

"But if you just focus on the work, and you don't let those people sidetrack you, someday when you get where you are going, you will look around and you will know that it was you and the people who love you that put you there and that will be the greatest feeling in the world."

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Updated Date: Apr 05, 2016 09:08:35 IST