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Bigg Boss 11: Shilpa Shinde being forcibly kissed is not entertainment, it is a criminal case

Bigg Boss 11 aired disturbing footage of TV actor Shilpa Shinde being forcibly kissed inside the house on a day Time honoured The Silence Breakers as the Person of the Year.

Bigg Boss 11 Salman Khan Updated: Dec 08, 2017 08:50 IST
Sweta Kaushal
Sweta Kaushal
Hindustan Times
Bigg Boss 11,Shilpa Shinde,Akash Dadlani
Akash Dadlani forcibly kissed Shilpa Shinde and when she protested, he just said sorry!

Time magazine named The Silence Breakers as the Person of the Year on Wednesday – women, and men, who spoke out about inappropriate and abusive behaviour they faced and spurred the #MeToo movement. As women and men everywhere took a moment to accept and understand what it stands for, Indian television took a huge step back and showed a woman being forcibly kissed on national TV. The show is Bigg Boss 11, the channel is Colors and the woman is TV actor Shilpa Shinde.

While Bigg Boss 11 is hardly the home of political correctness but showing a woman being kissed so that she would stop talking appeared like it was from a different -- and regressive -- day and age. Akash Dadlani kissed Shilpa against her wish, asked her “kya kar legi” when she asked him to move away and a channel thought it made for late-night entertainment instead of a case of assault!

Though he apologised to Shilpa later, it is frightening that Akash thought it was okay to kiss Shilpa into submission while cameras were rolling. While the onus of filing a case lies on Shilpa, is it okay to normalise such behaviour by showing it on TV? “The police can only take cognizance and file an FIR if the incident happened in presence of the cops. In this incident, it is a recorded version that was aired. Unless the woman actually files a complaint, the cops cannot do anything,” says lawyer Ravi Shankar.

Bigg Boss 11 has shown slut-shaming, weight shaming and worse but with this, the makers took it too far. In fact, the show had to be shifted from 9pm to 10:30pm in 2015 after the Information and Broadcasting ministry took cognisance of the abusive language and graphic content that it shows. But does a late night slot justify airing content like this? Unlike the fictional sitcoms that show a lot of objectionable stuff on the small screen, Bigg Boss is supposed to be a reality show based on footage of people interacting with each other in a closed house format.

The Bigg Boss episode aired every night is an edited version cut from the 24-hour-long footage from the various cameras installed inside the house. By airing this footage, the channel not only acted irresponsibly but also normalised intimidatory behaviour. When asked why they did not edit out the footage, Colors representative replied with the message, “No comments.”

When the video of Akash forcibly kissing Shilpa surfaced online on Wednesday afternoon, Twitterati demanded his eviction from the show. But eviction from a game show is not enough. He must be charged with sexual assault. Hindustan Times also got in touch with Shilpa’s family to find out if they plan to file a case, but they refused to comment.

We will outrage over an alleged distortion of “facts” in a fictional movie but neither a television channel nor the authorities want to take action against an assault on a woman that was aired on national television and the culprit got away with a mere sorry. We will probably see the host Salman Khan chiding Akash on the weekend episode. In a world where men are being outed for their predatory behaviour and women encouraged to break their silence, that ‘punishment’ appears laughable.

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First Published: Dec 08, 2017 08:46 IST