OBJECTIFICATION OF WOMEN IN BOLLYWOOD
By Mehar Chowdhry(13/09/2020 18:00 IST)
Objectification (meaning):Objectification is an act of treating a person, as an object or thing. It is a part of dehumanization, the act of dissolving the humanity of others.
Bollywood (meaning): A popular entertainment industry in India which openly objectifies women, through sexist dialogues and cheap item numbers.
You all must be wondering that what is so new and unique about this topic. But who talks about it? Objectification and sexism is not a new issue, but it is a long standing one and is constantly tried to be hidden behind the curtains. Be it Mandakini, Parveen Babi, Helen or the current top actresses. From ‘Sheila ki Jawani’ to ‘Munni ki Badnami’ and asking disgusting questions like ‘choli ke peeche kya hai?’ it is usually always women who are utilised as objects of desire and sexual objects. This industry resorts to item songs and objectification of women without analysing the impact it is creating on the society.
To make a movie blockbuster, actresses are made to wear awful clothes and dance on item numbers with trashy lyrics. Why is the society so much scared to empower women? Why is Bollywood so much reluctant and shady about giving its actresses the respect they deserve? The counterpoint to this would be films like Kahaani, Queen, Dirty Picture, etc; did well at the box office and was very much appreciated by the audience. To this, I must point out the fact that how many films of this sort came to rise? What about films like Akira, Lipstick under my Burkha, Fire, Panga, Begum Jaan, Bandit Queen, etc. the list is never-ending. Some of the mentioned movies were not even released as they were banned for mere and petty reasons. These movies had strong female leads and were essentially women-centric and actresses portrayed the true meaning of feminism through their characters. But they were not acknowledged for their efforts, instead they were not accepted.
With the objectification of women, sexism against them also goes hand in hand. Bollywood actresses are no strangers to sexism in media. They face constant disgust in news articles, social media posts and mere irrelevant questions asked to them at press conferences. For example; an Indian leading newspaper found appropriate to tweet a photo of Deepika Padukone’s cleavage, captioning it “OMG!” I wonder what is so OMG in a woman’s cleavage? These media people drool and salivate over John Abraham and Salman Khan’s six and eight pack nude body but will caption Deepika’s cleavage OMG, rate a movie “A” because Vidya Balan has her blouse unhooked, Kareena Kapoor Khan gets disgusting questions to answer related to her pregnancy that how will she retain her stardom once she is a mother and on the other hand Saif Ali Khan is normally congratulated. Does their hypocrisy has a full stop?
What are the main ingredients of a typical Bollywood “masala” films? A strong and muscular male lead and a doting submissive female, she is very beautiful and her beauty is praised by adjectives like; “pataka”, “tandoori murgi” (fire cracker or a piece of meat). The male lead touches her inappropriately and guess what? She enjoys that! Because bollywood has a simple logic or “funda” i.e. “ladki ki naa mein hi uski haan hoti hain!” (there is a hidden yes in every girl’s no). No wonder why rapes are so rampant in our country because Bollywood normalises stalking, eve-teasing and forceful physical contact and moreover it is also portrayed as its desirable to women! Like her only aim in life is to get attention from males. Wherein in reality all this so terrific to experience.
Now a common counterpoint arises that they are just movies made for fun and they do not have a specific intention of objectification and sexism against women. But don’t we all know that in India Bollywood is a soft medium of being very influential on people’s opinion. This is evident from the high number of crimes against women. This is evident from the fact that society accepts when a woman falls prey to misogyny. The society accepts and even enjoys when a actress is trolled all over the internet and is called names for wearing what she likes and carrying herself the way she prefers.
It is high time that actresses get equal roles as male leads, women centric films should be acknowledged and cheap item songs like Sheila ki Jawaani, Munni Badnaam, Fevicol, Laila main Laila be removed from the script of the films.
But to be very honest, one question kept arising in my mind while I was writing this editorial that is not Bollywood showcasing the reality? I am not drifting away from point but I think that this should be viewed from this angle too. Hasn’t the Indian society objectified women from ages? Let’s not forget the Mahabharata in which Draupadi was stripped in front of more than hundred men because her husband lost her in a game of gambling. And have we all forgotten Ramayana? Wherein Sita was asked to perform “agnipariksha” to prove that she is pure for her husband. Is misogyny running in our ancestory? Is Bollywood alone to be blamed for the objectification of women? The answers to these questions lie in our history and within ourselves.