Year 2016 in the Indian entertainment industry was about “Women Empowerment”, much credit to Mr. Gandhi for the popularity of the term. Most of these works have been creative and path breaking. But the question is to what extent have they impacted the people who are ignorant of their own ignorance?
Mr. Bachchan’s elocutions in Pink churned out several famous dialogues, which unfortunately eventually turned into much forwarded memes and lost the depth in their meaning. Sadly, the one with the most impactful meaning was misused the most – “Na sirf ek shabd nahi, apne aap mein ek poora vaakya hai. Ise kisi tarah ke spashtikaran, explanation ya vyakhya ki zaroorat nahi hoti. Na ka matlab sirf na hi hota hai!” (“NO is not a word but a sentence in itself. It doesn’t need any kind of clarification or explanation. A NO just simply means a NO.”). Did the disturbed percent of the so called greater sex realize the true gist of it or did it just end up in the list of famous one liners which will be used while praising Mr. Bachchan. (“Khush toh bahut hoge tum”, “Mere paas gaadi hai, bangla hai…”, “I can talk English, walk English, sleep English”). And has the victim blaming stopped? Or do people still blame the girl who got molested for roaming around at 3AM?
Victim blaming was a common theme throughout Parched, a masterpiece which focused on the atrocities that the women still face at the hands of society. Harsh truth being that the years old repression and torture has acclimatized women in a way that they don’t mind doling out the same cruelty on other women. Most women end up mocking themselves to hide the pain, this is very much evident when Radhika Apte is trying to hide her pain with sarcasm aimed at self – “Duniya mein mere jaisi banjh nahi hoti toh bachchon ki haalaat poora desh hi bhar gaya hota!” (“Had there not been infertile women like me, then the whole country would have been filled with kids). When Tanishtha Mukherjee’s son retorts his mother, who prevents him from abusing his child bride, saying – “Aaj pata chala mera baapu ghar rahne ki bajaye randikhane kyun jata tha.” (“I now know why my dad used to go to a whorehouse rather than staying at home.”); you feel for the poor soul – you feel disgust, contempt and anger.
A son condemning his mother in a demeaning way is still not unheard of in the world and thanks to Star Plus who are trying to bring about a change with their campaign Nayi Soch (New Thinking). One of their innovative effort is where youth icons and popular cricketers – M. S. Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane are seen wearing their mothers’ names on their game jerseys. The question being, why can’t we be identified by our mother’s name, after all what we are is in large part because of our mommy darlings. One would hope that this would bring about a change and make others also draw their identity as much from their mothers as they do from their fathers.
The year ended with Dangal, with the story of a father Mahavir Singh Phogat preparing his daughters to wrestle against the boys who justifies it in plain and simple words – “Mhari choriyan choron se kam se ke?” (“Are my daughters any lesser than the boys?”). People had issues with him asking the girls to fight with the boys, alas nobody had issues with a father forcing his wish on the kids (however, that is another story for some other time). There is this one scene where the referee tells the boy “Chori se, samajh ke kheliyo.” (“She is a girl, be careful while you wrestle.”) and pat replies Zaira Wasim “Bas chori samajh ke na kheliyo.” (“Don’t wrestle thinking that I am just a girl.”). That bang on attitude totally sums it all up. Play the game the way you usually do, don’t try and make it easier just because the players are women.
Movies like Neerja, Nil Battey Sannata and probably others that I missed out on watching, also deserve a mention for various reasons right from celebrating long lost unsung heroes to the quest of a mother to not let her daughter’s life go to waste.
After witnessing all this awe-inspiring work, how I wish that 2017 wouldn’t have started with the incidents that happened in Bangalore or with movies like Lipstick Under My Burkha being refused certification by the Censor Board. Are we starting back from level zero?