Dear Indian Film Industry (IFI),
I am writing this letter with a heavy heart. There was a time when I loved you like crazy. Now all I feel is apathy. There are times when you still overwhelm me, but such times are like those solar eclipses. Rare.
Consider this scenario – The city is taken over by zombies. They are killing humans and terrifying them. The humans are on the run, stuffing themselves in whatever holes they could find. Over time, the humans create barricades making it more and more difficult for the zombies to find a prey. Then one fine day as the zombies are sitting and twiddling their fingers, a human zombie supporter (who thinks zombies are the messengers of God and sent to make humans pay for their sins) opens up a cinema hall for them. The tickets are sold in minutes. The zombies fill the theatre and guess which movie is playing there?
The zombies watch the movie with enthusiasm and go back out with greater vigour to hunt as many humans as possible. The zombie supporter is happy.
Now replace the zombie with an average perverted Indian male who has a brain development of a two year old Neanderthal and who goes into a theatre to watch an Indian movie where women are either objectified to glory or where Indian culture begins at one end of a sari and ends at the other. The already deranged pervert is deranged further. His misplaced cultural values are further misplaced; his firm belief that women need to be tamed like an animal is further strengthened.
What do you think about these scenarios and the impact they leave?
- Rahul and Anjali are college chums. Anjali is tomboyish and so Rahul never loves her but finds another seductive girl. Years later when God plunks the seductive girl off the planet, Rahul and Anjali meet again. Anjali has transformed into a Bhartiya Nari (true blue pastel colours sari woman who loves children). In the end, it takes the flurry of a sari by the pagli pawan (crazy winds) and the accidental display of Anjali’s blouse concealing that part of her anatomy of which Rahul was always unaware of, which makes Rahul discover the Indian woman in her, the woman whom he could love and dance with in rain.
- There have always been Item numbers ever since Helen was discovered with extra long feathers on her head and back but nowadays if you leave all the leading ladies of Bollywood in a room and tell them that one of them will get to perform an item number in Salman Khan’s next movie, you will find loads of organs to be donated in 30 minutes and a majority of them will be eyes. Item numbers are the best way to parade women as objects. The filmmaker makes money and perverts get the kick to go out and fondle a woman after seeing an ‘item’ hanging from a rope amongst a horde of men trying to catch her skirt on the screen.
- Veronica is a bitch. She goes to pubs, have sex with random men but she is lonely and has no good friends. Our Hero flirts with her, beds her and they are cool with their fun relationship. Enters Meera, the perfect Indian woman, and our hero falls in love with her. Girls like Veronica are just there to have fun. When Hero’s Mom arrives, he had to display Meera like a trophy because that is what every Indian mother wants – a daughter-in-law dipped in our creamy culture, ready to be devoured. The Hero wants this too because our rich culture is rooted somewhere deep in his ankle.
- Adding more to Veronica – she goes to pubs and leads her life on her terms. And she is shown in a negative light. The director throws her at the audience like we throw a bone towards a dog and we lap her up. She gives us the psychological nutrition to believe that our culture still shuns girls who ape the west. Remember, we live in a country where we justify molestation of a girl who goes to a pub. In 2012. Veronica had to wear a salwaar-kameez finally in the hope that Maa would accept her. And Oh! it’s all right for our hero to ape the west. He can womanize and drink as much as he wants.
- The actress have to flutter her eyes, bite her lower lip, sway her body, bite her index finger between her teeth and pinch the index finger on her left hand with the thumb and index finger on her right hand when our Hero is around. I understand blushing but this induces nothing but the strongest urge to *face palm*.
I am not entirely blaming our film industry for the way women are treated in our society and for our medieval mindset. That will be like blaming Pranab Mukherjee for replacing Pratibha Patil as the brand ambassador of SOTC. But he did play a part, no matter how minuscule. Our society is heavily influenced by movies and the biggest movie industry in the world should try to find ways to change the mindset of the society, not to make profits out of it. Showing women as ‘items’ and portraying any deviation from an ideal Indian woman as black are subtle dangerous projections which helps in strengthening the way women are treated in India.
It will not be correct to say that the Indian film industry hasn’t changed over the years. There has been a radical change in how we portray women in our movies by giving them positively bold roles instead of asking them to scream as the hero beats the villain to a pulp, all thanks to the new breed of responsible directors. But there is a darker end of the spectrum as well. In a bid to make money, the mainstream cinema has severely started objectifying women with an equal ferocity. The number of item numbers served every year is now more than the number of train accidents that happen in India.
In a nation which is as tasteless without its sexually oppressing Patriarchal society as Maggi noodles is without its special masala, is it so hard to understand the repercussions of an actress picking up her sari, doing pelvic thrusts and heaving her breasts simultaneously in front of perverts who then go out and look at every woman in the same light? Who then take every girl who goes to a pub as ‘available’ and someone who will enjoy the touch of any Changu Mangu? Who then go out and search for an ideal virgin Indian woman acceptable to his family, no matter that he lost his own virginity years ago? Is it so difficult to understand that an alarmingly huge population of India is not mentally capable of enjoying such a form of cinematic entertainment without obvious consequences?
No, it is not difficult. You just have to look beyond money.
Once a fan.