Crimes of rape, gangrape, abuse and assault on women are being hotly debated on national TV, generally veering on three sets of opinions: That it’s made into a political issue, or it’s police inefficiency and, lastly, it’s the growing rowdy-ism problem in society. Rarely have I heard anyone talk about the practical angle of who’s fuelling it.
Clearly, the mechanical, ritualistic, repetitive item numbers from Bollywood films cannot look so innocent. Repetition of such permissiveness, analogous to the affordable, non-distinctive chowmein selling on urban street corners, makes it become permissible to society. Such a social entry of repetitive item numbers has every potential of resulting in dangerous misdemeanor. The impact audio-visual cinema and TV entertainment have on society is tremendous. Even in the silent film era, American FBI’s J Edgar Hoover managed to expel renowned creative filmmaker Charlie Chaplin for making The Great Dictator. Although the film made fun of Hitler, Hoover accused Chaplin of “anti-Americanism”, saying audio-visual communication can be construed as influential to society, whether the information was good, bad, right, wrong. So let’s not undermine the power of audio-visual media in influencing our billion-plus people. Simultaneously, I absolutely cannot support Hoover for banishing a genius like Chaplin whose creativity brought continuous newness in his every film.
I’m not against any form of liberty of creativity of a filmmaker, but we have to differentiate between originality of filmmaking and copycat repetitive versions that exploit women’s self-esteem. Sizzling item numbers are digital industrial reproductions; they have no romance and are accepted by society. Everyone watches them together unlike the hidden factor of pornography or B/C-grade films. Repetitive item numbers look alike in their lewd exposure of the frontal and backside of a woman’s torso. The uneducated, whether employed or unemployed, receive signals that these girls driving the men are beckoning them. Repetitive item numbers have purportedly become mandatory to catch the public’s eye, pull them into theatres, or dingy, sweat-smelling video shops in small towns and villages, or directly stream on to mobile phones of most of our 900 million users. Somehow, Helen’s cabaret numbers in days of yore would fit