And Bollywood chooses to keep mum. Again.
It is not every day that we see an actor take a stand for what s/he thinks is wrong. Our film industry is known to play safe. It lives by the proverb: Silence is Golden, especially on issues that need raising the voice most.
Remember Salman Khan’s comment on how he felt like a “raped woman” because he had trained too hard for his role in Sultan? Our otherwise extremely opinionated celebrities neither had anything to say about their beloved ‘Bhai’ nor did they find his ‘casual remark’ as offensive as the rest of the country did.
Deepika Padukone’s star-studded campaign ‘My Choice’ for Vogue went a little too far in its portrayal of women empowerment. Though Twitter had reacted furiously to Deepika’s brave attempt, the biggest of Bollywood stars had come out in her support. Not one of them could see the campaign for what it was. While there were several notions that were stretched a bit too thin in the video, Bollywood hailed it as a new feminist wave and stuck together — as it always does.
http://t.co/7MSprJKAlN superb video my choice. Its a must watch— Azmi Shabana (@AzmiShabana) March 29, 2015
T 1815 - Homi Adajania makes a pertinent 2 min film 'My Choice' ..http://t.co/SUJowJG8Vw .. Women Empowerment .. !!— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) March 28, 2015
This time, it is Ranveer Singh who has struck a storm with a Jack and Jones ad. The billboard, that was put up in 12 Indian cities, shows Ranveer urging men to take work — a female secretary in this case — home. Clad in a “sharp office shirt”, he is seen standing in front of an elevator holding a woman, dressed in casual western office wear, on his shoulder. The elevator operator smirks as Singh winks while the woman on his shoulder is laughing, as the board shouts out, “Don’t hold back. Take your work home.”
Twitter took Singh’s word. It did not hold back at all. Users attacked the campaign for being extremely sexist and offensive. The furore forced Jack and Jones to withdraw the ad on November 21 and send individual tweets apologising to people for causing them distress.
However, not one Bollywood actor has commented on Singh’s faux pas yet. Except for Tamil/Telugu actor Siddharth — who we north Indians know best as Karan Singhania in Rang De Basanti.
He took to the micro-blogging site and called the ad “A new low for women’s rights in the workplace in India.” But he is the only one who has said anything so far on the issue.
‘Don’t Hold Back’ isn’t the first sexist campaign that we’ve seen on TV, web or on a billboard. We are used to seeing our leading heroes and heroines sell fairness creams, jewellery, and household products in advertisements with sexist undertones, but rarely are they as evidently misogynist as in this instance.
Ranveer’s ad does not leave much to imagination. It is like him: in-your-face brash.
Since Bollywood has nothing to defend, or worse, appreciate in this case, it’s doing what it does best — keep mum; not take a stand and let things be.
Urging our actors to be mindful of what they endorse — considering millions readily lap up all that they do — and call out when they see something unbecoming or distasteful done by their lot, will be a plea too clichéd. Whether they realise it or not, they are responsible for propagating stereotypes, consumerism, sexism and a mad race to be photo-ready.
Fortunately, there are a few fish in the sea who are trying to swim against the current. Although small, they are creating ripples. Though hopeful, it isn’t enough, for we need a tsunami.
The author tweets @sneha_bengani
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