#MeToo: The Bollywood Hall of Shame

#MeToo
Revolution

# MeToo which was reignited in the west by actress Alyssa Milano has tremendous ripple effects throughout the world. Celebrities and experts from various fields have come out with their real stories in protest to any sexual harassment. The very recent award shows in the west have seen an incredible amount of support from woman celebrities to this revolutionary # MeToo. Celebrities as Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman, and Meryl Streep have come out in open to show support for #MeToo. They choose to wear black as their form of protest in January 2018, Golden Globe awards.

The women’s rights activist Tarana Burke discussed her “MeToo” as a path to consolidate women under one large umbrella in 2006 as a form of protest. By the year 2017, in October with the addition of hashtag #MeToo has now become a global phenomenon. This is one feminist movement which is growing in strength in the western world. Women have found a new platform to voice their agonies against the moguls. #MeToo has been quite a revolution both in the virtual world and the real physical world.

In the west, sectors such as politics, media, Hollywood, sports are being exposed but what about other largest democracies in the world. India is being affected by #MeToo only in the social media tool. 

With the growing awareness of  #MeToo movement, Bollywood is still in its silent phase. The successful actresses are still keeping quiet. Bollywood has been reluctant to name and shame perpetrators.This industry is an extremely patriarchal as the nation.  No one has pointed fingers at the Bollywood moguls be it established actors, filmmakers etc. It is still able to project its industry as one cosy big happy family in the recent award nights.

BOLLYWOOD OBJECTIFIES WOMAN 

woman seen as a object
Bollywood glorifies woman as a commodity

Present day postmodern society constantly and unavoidably typifies the female body. The negative impacts related to body consciousness were body shaming, nervousness,  depression, anorexia and other unhealthy eating habits.

Bollywood is home to many family legacies. Outsiders have to face a lot of struggle in comparison to the ones born in this industry with the silver spoon. Especially the harassment doubles in case of women. Even during the black and white era, there were certain movies where there was a particular type of body shape for the heroines and the cabaret girls.

Objectification of women in this century has become worse. Item songs with raunchy lyrics and dance moves are absolutely derogatory in nature. Just to name few from some hit songs are Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast –  (1994), Fevicol Se 2012, Dabangg2, Honey Singh is the king of such inappropriate lyrics, Munni Badnaam from  Dabang, Jumma Chumma De De, Gandi Baat etc. Hindi songs depict women to any idea that is consumed by men such as leg piece, alcohol, different body parts etc.

Lyrics in these hit songs are generally lecherous, lowly and females are portrayed as lustful objects. In these tunes, a woman is projected as a sexual object while a gang of boozers sexually badger her. 

woman are displayed as an item dancing around drunk men in such songs. However, no woman can appreciate moving in such a savage domain. These melodies influence society and are prompting legitimization of practices from whistling to assault. Shamefully these item numbers are socially acceptable. Bollywood does encourage chasing, whistling and eve teasing as normal masculine acts. There are enormous numbers of films yearly made by Bollywood just to make big bucks.

HINDI FILMS

stop your patriarchal beliefs
Accept my No

Films such as R Rajkumar played by Shahid Kapoor (2013), Saawariya (2007) Tere Naam, Jeet (1996) Anjaam (1994) Raanjhanaa (2013). Such films glorify the stalkers. It reinforces the belief in the Indian male mind that the woman is a subject of disposal for you. These films just display women as a submissive damsel in distress where her No is totally ignored.Some 2017 hit films as Toilet – Ek Prem Katha and Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya projected the male lead stalking the leading lady, taking pictures of her without her knowledge. Such movie normalizes sexual abuse.In India, Bollywood represents that women can be won over by all wrong means.  These mentioned films just promote all the evils which have caused harassment for the real women in the real world. #MeToo is not enough to give a wakeup call in one of the biggest film industries in the world.

OPINION OF SOME BOLLYWOOD CELEBRITIES ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT

bollywood
Hindi film industry

#MeToo is opening a Pandora’s box. Since October 2017, many stories have come forward. Many A-listers from Hollywood have shared and testified their personal journeys.

Q) Why Bollywood is still so silent on this issue?

A) India is an extreme form of patriarchal society. The Film industry is owned and run by different Bollywood biggies. Legacy is everything here. No one is ready to take ownership. Whoever names them is thrown out of work. Career is always at risk in the glamour industry.

HEROINES VOICE

Kangana Ranaut is one of the opinionated strong women of Bollywood artists who have freely stood up about the rape and sexual crime. Ranaut, who has shown up in woman-oriented hit films, revealed to Reuters she had confronted “serious sexual abuse and exploitation at the workspace”, naming senior actor Aditya Pancholi. She has been quite open not to endorse fairness product as it reinforces the white stereotype amongst the Indian masses. She is surely one of the true feminists in spirit.

Priyanka Chopra– She had addressed a crowd at Marie Claire’s Powertrip 2017 that Weinstein is only the beginning, not the end, of powerful men abusing power in the movie industry and beyond. She has given a major lip service to #MeToo questions without referring to anyone in Bollywood. She also agrees sexual harassment exists in Bollywood and refers to this abuse as power trip done by men.

Richa Chadha– Actress Richa Chadha says that we shouldn’t ever forget about the movement that we all started. We should continue discussing about the same. She hopes and wishes that #MeToo does not die away, it is just not another digital challenge but a page to transform lives. She has also commented if names come out, the Bollywood industry will lose many famous filmmakers and heroes. She even commented that she is ready to name and shame the Indian Moghuls as Harvey Weinstein’s of the Indian film industry if she is ensured security.

Swara Bhaskar, another actress who spoke out against sexual harassment, also said women don’t have the option of a “feminist choice”. The best way to handle harassment at a job is to lose the part but don’t get on the couch. That’s not a feminist choice, and certainly not a liberating choice. It’s like giving a bribe, and that amounts to succumbing to a wrong,” she said.

The need of the hour is to Indianise #MeToo. Someone successful has to come out with their personal stories for justice.

REASONS WHY WOMEN KEEP QUIET     

no voice
Made to be quiet

Victim shaming is acceptably normal in the modern Shining Indian culture. According to a study made by The Indian National Bar Association around 70 percent of Indian women said they would not report lewd behaviour at the working environment. Since they weren’t sure about the legal system or complaint cell and due to the shame inflicted on the sufferers.

INDIAN WOMEN MADE QUIET

  • Women not taken seriously
  • System handicapped in the clutches of patriarchy
  • No one believes her
  • She raises too many doubts as she is doing a publicity stunt or after money 
  •  In the previous lawsuits, not many women have a win situation
  •  Her family and society discourages to voice such atrocities
  • She is just brought up to compromise since childhood
  •  Laws are too weak and feeble

There are multiple NGOs, activists, and media in all forms a radio, print, net and certain legal tools to address the sexual abuse. But first, it has to be the victims who have to gather the personal strength to be ready for this battle.

Women have to be more confident and prepared to take on the battle as her personal lonely path. She needs to address her own phobias. Don’t let #MeToo die in vain in India. Equip #MeToo with legal teething powers to bring down the powerful. As done in the business industry by bringing down the Angel investor Mahesh Murthy who was recently arrested but released on bail later.

‘Ask and then you shall receive’ is a quote from the religious text. Even God helps those who help themselves. So voice out, shout out your stories.This digital revolution called #MeToo is still being heard.

In India be ready for the drama. We always have onlookers, that’s what they do.Be it in an honour killing, child rape, infant rape and gangrape. The perpetrators should be booked.

WALK OF SHAME IN BOLLYWOOD 

CASTING COUCH:

Term casting couch started in the film industry, with particular reference to couches in workplaces that could be utilized for sexual performance between selection team and struggling artists. It is essentially a barter of sexual favours by a new artist to a predominant filmmaker and so on. 

Many years back only, in 2005 casting couch of Bollywood came to the forefront but no one was penalised. These actors were caught asking for sexual favours so that the newbie could accelerate her career. As Shakti Kapoor gets work and so does Aman Verma from Television world. These guys have enough work and fame in spite of facts and evidence of their sexual offences.

Though few talk about the casting couch syndrome, the dark reality behind the glittering lights of showbiz, actors like Ranveer Singh and Ayushmann Khurrana have opened up about their experiences. The film industry’s catalogue of charges of sexual abuse is long.

Below are some Bollywood names who have accused of sexual crimes

Shiney Ahuja was accused of raping his maid and keeping her hostage for nearly two hours in his flat. The 20 year old maid also accused him of threatening her if she tried to report his crimes. When the investigation started, Shiney had at first denied the claims, but when medical reports confirmed it, he later confessed. Although Shiney was sentenced to seven years imprisonment, he was released on bail after serving only a month in jail, and is still getting acting offers and is part of big Bollywood films like Welcome Back.

Vikas Bahl: A female who had worked with Phantom Films had alleged that she was molested by this director of Queen, during a trip to Goa. When the accusations were pointed towards him, Phantom Films asked Vikas Bahl to step down from his position immediately. While the accusations were taken care of, no report was filed against him and as the Indian saga goes on he was never convicted.

Shiamak Davar: He is a top Bollywood choreographer who was sued by two Vancouver based former students of his own dance school for sexual harassment in Canada. Two male dancers accused Shiamak Davar of assaulting them through a spiritual organisation of his dance routine.

Karim Morani: Chennai Express producer Karim Morani was accused of rape and blackmailing in Hyderabad by a 25-year old woman from Delhi. She said he had drugged her and raped her under a false promise of marriage but Morani rubbished the claims initially. Police booked Morani on several charges including rape, wrongful confinement and criminal intimidation in 2015. In September that year, he surrendered to Hyderabad police and the court rejected his plea for bail.

Mahmood Farooqui: He is a film director. His last work was Peepli live as a co-director. He has been convicted and sentenced to seven years for the rape of an American scholar from Columbia University in 2015. He uses the same traditional patriarchal tool in his defence as he claims he was falsely implicated. His better half, director Anusha Rizvi, is battling the case.

Madhur Bhandarkar:  An aspiring model and struggling actress, Preeti Jain, accused him of rape in 2004. It was one of the biggest controversies, but the climax of this issue happened when this model cum actress was booked for three years in jail for plotting to kill director Bhandarkar.

Ankit Tiwari: He is male lead Hindi singer. Tiwari is known for hit songs like “Sun Raha Tu”, was arrested on charges of raping an advertising professional in 2014 but was acquitted in that case. Now he just got happily married to someone in Jan 2018.

Onir Dhar: The National Award winning director of films like  “I Am” and “My Brother Nikhil”, was charged with rape by struggling actor Yuvraj Parasher. Dhar, who had been open about his sexual orientation, said Parasher was making baseless claims for publicity.

Irrfan Khan:  Mamta Patel, a small time actress who had a small role in Paan Singh Tomar, accused star Irrfan Khan of ‘deceitful intimacy’ in a major casting couch scandal in 2014. She alleged Irrfan had promised her roles in Bollywood movies in exchange for a sexual relationship.

Inder Kumar:  This actor who died in 2017 was accused of giving her a break in the movies and that he will marry her shortly. She told that he had confined her in the Versova flat for three months, during which period, he continued to rape and torture her. Inder Kumar said all these charges were baseless and it was a consensual relationship. He was arrested and booked under sections 376 (punishment for rape), 324 (causing grievous hurt), 342 (Punishment for wrongful confinement) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

 Subhash Kapoor: Actress Geetika Tyagi charged film producer of Jolly LLB Subhash Kapoor of sexually assaulting her. She had even put up recordings on YouTube of her slapping him after he acknowledged to it in front of his wife. The video shows him clearly admitting his vice and saying he will accept the consequences. It also shows his wife begging Geetika to not go public with this.

Other yesteryear heroes who have been accused of sexual harassment during their young days are Jeetendra and Rajesh Khanna.

This kind of sexual abuse has come not just from Bollywood but also from other regional cinema. #MeToo will take many years to book the sexual offenders in the Indian subcontinent. However, the recent outcry of any sexual abuse in the world results in the woman being taken seriously due to #MeToo.

END RESULT OF THESE ACCUSATIONS

  • Men are still walking free and head held high. His character is not doubted and questioned.
  • The perpetrators are getting work and social acceptance in spite of not only just being accused but also when found guilty.
  • He is able to use the ancient old stereotypes and dialogues as they discredit her story. They tell the world she is a gold digger. Its false,  bogus accusations, the woman is mad are some of the statements regularly made by offenders.
  • “Her story is baseless” as says Jeetendra’s advocate who is now accused of sexual assault five decades back.This is the latest Bollywood accusation of a yesteryear hero in Feb 2018.
  • The victim has to face character assassination.
  • She gets no work, literally gets excommunicated just because she dared to challenge the male perpetrators in this so-called twenty-first century.
  • Indian women have to put up everything in line when she is putting up a fight against her perpetrators.
  • The bearer loses all that is important to her.

However, there is still hope. The words “me too” have become a rallying cry throughout the world but to become a hashtag #MeToo will take many more years as it has enormous forms of social and cultural obstacles to move.

CONCLUSION

Indian society needs a social, cultural, political change to have a gender-neutral society. It’s a community where a woman from times of foetus has to struggle for survival through sex selection test then foeticide, amniocentesis, abortion etc. It will have to be a collective effort, not leaving any segment of the society where women can feel safe both in her personal as well as her professional space. #MeToo has surely given these women voices but it is for the entire society to accept the crime and punish these offenders. Hoping and praying for a safer society for all.

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