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Get some shame or get a room

“Modesty is overrated” screams a billboard. The copywriter Guru has summed up life in three little words of wisdom. The neighboring billboard, fearing fate worse than death, that of being ignored, goes a step further. Rajnigandha Shekhawat writes.

india Updated: Apr 22, 2011 18:54 IST
Rajnigandha Shekhawat

“Modesty is overrated” screams a billboard. The copywriter Guru has summed up life in three little words of wisdom. The neighboring billboard, fearing fate worse than death, that of being ignored, goes a step further…it has a guy pushing a girls legs apart with the tag line “He wants in, she wants out”…really now, if she truly wanted out she would not have posed for that billboard.

But she and the guy have just finished college, they don’t have time to waste in daily commute to a boring office desk, a boss that will most certainly make them work hard, atleast 12 hours a day on trainee salary. But hard work is for the boring average joes who cant make it to TV!

America has already shown the way to fame and money - all you need to do is take off your clothes, talent be damned. Whether you’re an actor, model, singer, dancer or the new breed called the reality TV star, everyone is hanging it all out to get noticed. And when everyone around you gets naked too, its time to up the ante with provocative gestures accompanied by abusive speech …the more sex you bring to the table, the more crassness you ooze from your being, the more you offend others, the more your chances of getting noticed in the crowd of other naked people.

And being noticed is money in the bank, for branded clothes and cell phones. Who said nudist colonies are not allowed in India? They thrive in our midst, from our mehendi and sangeet party to the office HR function to the dance reality show on a family channel to the college festival, they are whistling from the billboards, blaring from the news headline.

Oh my God, I must be that lecturer type tightass who wears khadi sarees and big bindis, who brands everything cool as anti Indian culture! Surely the next thing I will do is file a petition and get random things like jeans, dancing, clubbing banned to feel a sense of achievement!

But a tightass usually doesn’t use words like ‘tightass’. So then I must be a politician who will crash the next party and reprimand girls to wear something more than a spaghetti. Because normal people don’t get vocal about what makes them cringe….

Besides, who is going to listen to a non famous person anyway? Actually I am the average Jane who is still in shock, wondering how that model must be making eye contact with her parents when they cross her lit up billboard all across town daily.

It wasn’t that far along when people had a sense of shame. The ‘Jhijhak’, that little warning voice of conscience that arose from the pit of the stomach and said “don’t do this, if your parents find out you will not be able to face them”! That voice doesn’t exist for so many, as eager parents, having themselves missed the Bollywood bus, encourage their own kids to gyrate and shake their booty to get on that coveted screen, starting with the wedding sangeet for practice.

When the sociologist said “the Hindi movie vamp is dead, the heroine does it all now” some of us were foolish enough to think that was just about the movies. Because normal people don’t get to touch a movie star in their entire lifetime, that’s how far away that world was.

However, what the cabaret dancer did to seduce the hero from the pious heroine, suddenly jump-cut into the college festival in the blink of an eye. The sociologists were so wrong. The vamp never died, stupid, the heroine did!

Lets face it, being bad has always felt so good! That eye contact when no one is looking, that phone call when no one else can overhear, watching that porno movie with friends, that holding hands by the beach, doing it while the folks are away…Going after the forbidden has always been so exciting, but half the excitement came from keeping things hidden, of not getting caught doing the naughty.

But clearly if Munni’s ass rubbing dance step was performed for a limited audience of one, so many crores would have not exchanged hands! Why should Rakhi make all the moolah alone? More power to the independent girl and her right to do as she pleases, but are we not ignoring that little knot in the stomach that comes if these gyrations start when our parents are in the same room or the little nephew is watching? When I see a 12 year old child thrusting his or her pelvis and heaving the non existent cleavage, I HAVE to look away.

The popular dance show with the diva herself as a judge, gives a perfect 10 score to the girl who has, in her dance with the matka as prop, been roughly felt up across her thigh by a male dancer as she picks up her saree to help him get better access. It’s not even visually sensual, no soft lighting, no favourable camera angles etc that one would defend it as an artistic expression of the beautiful thing called lovemaking.

Its blatant, its crass, its gross.

And its in the episode that supposedly represents the, hold your breath, “culture of India”. More like the culture from an infected Petri dish of our neighborhood sever. With bigger cities not even providing options for studying genuine arts like pure classical dance and music, the only “culture” available is that what is defined by Farah and Saroj, with a generous dose of Chinni.

In college festivals the “cultural segment” is includes heaving chests of not one or two but atleast 5 contestants’ ode to one Sheila. How a contestant can start her jazz dance by spreading her legs wide, and everyone not falling off their chairs in disgust, is beyond me. The festival coordinator gives a sigh of surrender and ignores.

Luckily the jazz dancer doesn’t win but one of the top heavy Sheilas certainly does. Sorry, I noticed, the T shirt was too tight. And how can we forget the guy who wins the “Talent” round by showing his one true talent – a smooth move with which he removes his T-shirt to show the 6 pack abs! In this contest, they are all winners.

Really, with every fair coloured 21 year old wanting to be a model, is there hope for the average girls and boys who put a 14 hour work day? They, the non glamorous, the non exciting? Is there a place for the fully covered girl who gets uncomfortable if a man touches her arm or refers to her as ‘Babe’? Is there still room for two seven letter words called ‘respect’ and ‘dignity’? Can these words be monitised?

We know India didn’t get this over populated because people were holding hands all this while. But they didn’t rub their sex in other people’s faces either. More power to the guys and girls who are screaming for attention just to convey that they are “doing it” …its almost a free country guys, go for it, all we are saying is – spare us your exhibition, get some shame or get a goddamned room!