Picture this. An actress dressed in a skimpy black, back-revealing blouse and dhoti salwar dancing to a Marathi item song, with disco lights and a whistling audience in an auditorium packed to capacity.
This happened not at a television reality show, but at a programme held to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Shiv Sena’s youth-wing, the Yuva Sena. The dance was just one among the many that took place at Shanmukhananda Hall, Sion on Monday evening. The Marathi item number was followed up with Hindi saucy hits, including Jalebi Bai and Sheila Ki Jawani.
The bold dance-fest at the function came as a departure for the party, given its projection of itself as one of the custodians of Indian culture and its traditional use of the tutari and other prominent symbols of Maharashtrian culture.
For years, the Sena has been at the forefront of protests against Valentine’s Day. It has orchestrated nation-wide protests, burnt greeting cards and even bashed up youngsters ‘caught’ celebrating Valentine’s Day.
In 2009, the Sena severely criticised the movie ‘Girlfriend’, claiming that the theme was against Indian culture since it talked about the explicit relationship between two women. The film was termed by the party as a ‘bad influence’ and a ‘blot’ on Indian culture.
However, ever since the Yuva Sena has been launched, there has been a noticeable change in the way the party is being projected and Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray suggested, albeit indirectly, that such changes were necessary. “Times have changed and you have to talk with the youth in their language. I am happy with their progress,” he said.
Several other changes were seen in the programme — traditional diyas were replaced by electric ones and chairs on the dias were replaced by bar stools for Aditya Thackeray and his team. It was announced that the Yuva Sena Facebook page saw 15,000 members joining it in a month.