Film-maker Subhash Ghai, who made his leading ladies wear skimpy ‘western’ clothes in movies such as Khalnayak and Aitraaz, has had a drastic change of views. On Thursday, Ghai shocked the audience at the ongoing International Film Festival of India in Goa, when he asked youngsters to stop wearing jeans.
"I would not like the younger generation to wear jeans anymore. Children must build national character, not corrupt it," he said. When his remarks met with outrage, he retracted, saying he used the term ‘jeans’ for the "western masks we wear." He added, "Be real, even I wear jeans and so do my kids, please don’t take it literally."
But the damage was done. While the virtual world went abuzz with reactions on his statement, right–wing activists lapped it up. "Subhash Ghai took some time to understand, but we are happy that he finally did. Aping the western culture blindly should be stopped right away," said Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s spokesperson Prakash Sharma. "If Ghai has accepted that it’s anti-national to not just wear jeans but to copy the western culture, we welcome this change in his mentality," said Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut.
His industry colleagues, however, were not amused. "Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but this is very regressive," said actor Malaika Arora Khan. "The Indian youth may wear jeans, but know their culture well. Ghai should avoid telling them how to get dress or behave," says ad film-maker Prahlad Kakkar. The heroine of Ghai’s superhit film, Pardes, Mahima Chaudhary, came to his defence. "I have worked with him, so I can say that he must have used ‘jeans’ as a metaphor for Western culture."
The fuss about jeans
In Kolkata, a controversy erupted at a girls’ college in August after authorities sent out a notice prohibiting tight-fitting jeans, short pants and capris in the campus.
In June, a Bangalore college banned students and teachers from wearing jeans. The ban was withdrawn after protests.
In June, Mumbai’s Krishna Menon College refused to admit girls who came in jeans, claiming that the outfit taints its reputation.
In 2009, a college in Kanpur had banned jeans, claiming it will keep harassment in check.