Maybe it’s because I’ve not watched a Bollywood film in a while or maybe it’s because there are so many idiotic “arguments” floated by people who are supposed to be leaders in this country, but I’ve ended up defending Bollywood twice this week. Usually, I’m thwacking Bollywood left, right and centre for it’s messed up storytelling/politics/fashion sense/publicity campaigns… you name it, I’ve had issues with it. As far as gender stereotypes are concerned, there’s a lot that’s wrong with Bollywood storytelling, but to point to those problems as the cause of the rapes that are being reported is a pathetic and lazy attempt at laying the blame on someone else’s doorstep.
So this post is about the Rajya Sabha debate that took place on Monday and a ponder about what crimes we can say were inspired by Bollywood.
…it’s difficult to understand how Ek Tha Tiger, which was Bollywood’s top earner for 2012, could inspire rape. Considering the bags under Salman Khan’s eyes, it could inspire you to start using under eye gel. Had there been a rash of gun-toting and shirt-tearing, we could point fingers at Ek Tha Tiger, but the only crime against a woman was suggesting any female would fall for the lines that Salman Khan delivers in that film.
If films really did have such persuasive powers upon audiences, then the crimes we’d have to deal with as a society would be rash bicycling (Barfi!) and jaywalking backwards (Jab Tak Hai Jaan), and more people would adopt girl children (taking a tip from Rowdy Rathore). Instead, what we’ve seen are violent crimes against women and girls. Politicians have been more corrupt than their cinematic counterparts and I think it’s safe to say that the family of the five-year-old would have preferred Chulbul Pandey to the cops they had to deal with in their hour of need.
The next day, there was a report that the UP state government wants its police force to watch Bollywood blockbusters like Dabanng. The hope is that watching Bollywood cops will inspire the real-life cops. Obviously, I had to offer my tuppence.
Dabangg is about a dirty cop whose redeeming feature is that he can make his belt buckle boogie. The hero of Ab Tak Chhappan is a cop who takes the law into his own hands and is decidedly trigger-happy.Singham may have been about a good cop, but considering how said cop was making cars and goons fly, you couldn’t really take him seriously. What do these three men have in common? Machismo, muscles and violence. And entirely inconsequential love interests. Clearly, as far as the ADG’s vision of police and power are concerned, power is a masculine and muscular affair. Not just that, even if they are dirty cops, the fact that they are male makes them good enough to be role models.