Bollywood is an industry filled with filth and coated with tinsel. It is so radiant and glamours from the outside that what rots beneath the surface goes unnoticed. The industry feeds on the skin of the leading ladies and continues to do that unabated and undiminished. If you add up the screen time of some of our leading actresses for their entire career after removing the songs, item songs and controversial scenes, it might be shorter than a typical movie duration. Of course, they hide behind the reasoning: “it was the demand of the script“. What script? Two decades of love & romance, love inside a marriage or outside a marriage, love story in the office, in the same caste or outside a caste, with the rich, with the poor, here & there, and once in a while a Don or a Terrorist; that‘s it. So much for the creative artists. Wasn’t that the success mantra during the 90’s and the decade following? What was the role of women in this? The actresses were confined to flaunting skin. Don’t the feminists see this as the objectification of women? Oh yes, they do but it is called the commercial cinema exactly like Congress calls tax evasion or corruption as a parallel economy or an informal economy. Euphemism at its best.
There always exists a quid-pro-quo for climbing up a ladder in every profession. If you have some unique skill or become indispensable, you use that to climb that growth ladder, otherwise, you find unethical ways to do so. Having a fair skin is not an indispensable skill; it is found in abundance in India. If you visit any Indian city, town or village you will find a multitude of Indian Women prettier than the women in Bollywood. Some of them don’t even think of going there, and some come back after some unpleasant experiences. Maybe this is one of the reasons as to why there are a lot of white (foreign origin) women as leading actresses in Bollywood. By white I mean a person coming from places farther from the equator, hence less exposed to the sunlight leading to less amount of pigments like melanin which causes the skin to be fairer or whiter than others who live near the equator. Although they are more prone to skin cancers but skin color is the key focus here. In comparison to that, how many male protagonists are white? As per the above definition of white. This is the reason why only a few women (most of them are already done with their careers) are complaining. They know if they speak up, there is no dearth of skin-flaunting talents out there.
This #metoo campaign invites difficult times for the women in India who have nothing to do with Bollywood. It affects only a handful of celebrity men but a lot of middle-class women. It is exactly like what they did in the past. The feminists forced different companies to award more maternity leaves both paid and unpaid. What did it do? Ask women, if they were more employable in the past or they are now? The companies now look before hiring if the women is going to have a baby in the near future. A similar example, one of the communities in India asked for a severe law calling for a non-bailable offense for a general category person if they say something unpleasant to people of a particular community, SC-ST Prevention of Atrocities Act. Ask them if they were more employable before the law or after the law?
People get scared, fear is one of the biggest and strongest motivators. With falling standards of morality, ethics, honesty and integrity, the fear is not paranoia. For an entrepreneur or a hiring manager diversity comes second, survival comes first. What if there happens to be an argument during regular work hours? If it happens with a general category man, you cool it off during the break but in the other case you end up in a jail. In case of annual appraisals or promotions if the general category employee gets upset he at most quits but if a person from that community gets upset, you not only lose your job but also go to jail. And these appraisal reviews happen in a cabin and are not recorded. How do you prove your innocence? Now just replace the SC-AT act with #metoo, the person comes out of the cabin with tears in the eyes and utters #metoo. With #metoo you only need a number of social media followers, if you have that, you win.
If the feminists in Bollywood are serious about stopping the exploitation of women. They should make it possible for women to have bigger and more critical roles in the industry and not just flaunt skin. If it is an attempt for some publicity and creating some noise than #metoo might not work that well, #hetoo or #theytoo might work better. Our Bollywood is not a #metoo industry, we do things that others do. Somebody asked an actress, why did you do a bareback scene? She replied, “because she too did that in her movie and it became a hit.” Ask Bollywood “why do you need to add so much nudity and abusive language in the movies these days?” the best reply “they too (hollywood) do it and they make a lot of money”. Further, with #metoo the pain and agony of the victim would resurface along with the victim coming in the open but #hetoo does not even need the victim, it would just humiliate the alleged perpetrator. Hide the identity of the victim and point the fingers, you could also do #hetoo on someone’s behalf. Moreover, like many of our Bollywood movies #hetoo would be an innovative, novice and creative work of Bollywood which has nothing to do with cut-copy-edit-paste.
Make no mistake, we live in a democracy and by co-incidence this is the election year, if the issue is pushed a little harder, there is a possibility that we will have some weird law passed before the year ends. I am just waiting for this campaign to unravel as a political stunt. PS: You could try to find the political/ideological inclination of the people in question, you might find the connection.
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