By Ayesha Borker
Edited by Michelle Cherain, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist
One of the largest and most important industries that we have in our country is the Hindi film industry. Bollywood as we call it (an unimaginative take of its contemporary Hollywood), has very well established itself in the hearts of millions of Indians and remains one of the essentialcharacteristics of India. It undoubtedly has a rich heritage of movies with a legacy of actors, directors and musicians of top-notch calibre, to have walked down its hall of fame.
While the bygone era was indeed the golden era, we cannot really say the same about the trend of movies that has now emerged. The so-called modern world of Bollywood has eventually led to a misplaced sense of reality amongst the youth with several subliminal messages being fed knowingly or unknowingly in the society.
For starters, an ideal woman is always the good-girl next door. A career oriented woman is majorly shown with negative shades. In most of the movies the female is merely a show piece for the song and dance routine. Very few directors make female oriented movies leaving little scope for our actresses to act. All in all, it sends a message that this is what women are worth. It tells the society that Indian women always play second fiddle to men. Children grow up watching such movies. In a recent movie called Cocktail, it is blatantly shown how Saif Ali Khan dates and has fun with the ‘out-going‘ DeepikaPadukone, but eventually wants to marry the mellowDainaPenty, because she is the kind of woman he wants to settle down with. Such a theme just reflects double-standards at its best. And the so-called progressive star cast even agreed to work in a movie like that.
Item numbers have become the call of the day and it is extremely disheartening to see that Indian actresses agree to star in them, shaking a leg on raunchy lyrics openly demeaning women. Most of these item numbers are not even ‘demanded by the script’- a term widely thrown around by the fraternity. It is funnier how our censor board is quick to cut down kissing scenes or jump the gun when someone lights a cigar on screen,but conveniently looks beyond lyrics comparing a woman to a chicken’s leg waiting to be gulped down (courtesy: Fevicol Se from Dabangg 2)
On the other hand, heroes stalking their love interest- this is shown as a norm and is sometimes even shown to be ‘cool’. It sends a very wrong message out into the society. Men are subtly exposed to a concept that women are their rightful property.
College-centric movies always portray how amazingly ‘fun’ and ‘exceptional’ our colleges are. Guys entering in Lamborghinis or girls wearing mini –skirtsis the way we work, I guess. Someone needs to actually visit a college for a quick reality check. Glamourizing is one thing but completely altercating reality is another. In our movies actors have achieved everything by the time they pass out college, at a mere age of say, 21 or 22. It is true that a false sense of expectation prevails amongst students that life would be awesome as soon as they grow up. Reality most often has otherwise to offer. Success can be achieved but is rarely instantaneous. College is the time when most youngsters are struggling to find their true calling in life. It is pretty disappointing once you’ve passed the teenage to see movies being made the way they are. It’s like you have grown up but the industry still hasn’t. I’m sure with a population such as that of India; we are capable of showcasing much more.
What is even more disappointing is that actors who are huge stars make these big banner movies that promote women objectification, item numbers and baseless scripts. Their defence is that it is ‘pure entertainment’ or ‘the audience wants it’. What many fail to see is that these movies are just shoved into people’s faces through rampant marketing and end up earning money which is falsely considered equivalent to the audiences wanting it.
The point here is not the script quality of the movies we make; that is another issue in itself. The point here is that how, even after talking of belonging to a so-called progressing nation, we still send outdated stereotyped messages through our cinema. One look at the majority of our movies and no one would even say they belong to the 21st century crowd or the brightly educated minds of tomorrow.
We may not need to ape any other industry or immediately try making ‘serious’ movies ( as movies with decent story lines are sadly passed off) but, we can surely begin by taking note of the kind of archaic or patriarchal messages we are sending into the society through our cinema.
Ayesha has completed her engineering and is currently working.She has a very logical bent of mind and keeps an interest in a variety of topics. She has a passion for writing poems and maintains a blog too(/http://wondread.blogspot.