Of farts, faucets and perceived femininity on Indian talk shows
A man/woman may choose to answer a question or not. But to deprive them of that choice by treating them differently is unfair. It is much like the parents who make jokes about their son’s relationships with their relatives, but snub any mention of their daughter’s boyfriend — only worse, for here you are fuelling the prejudices of an entire nation.tv Updated: Apr 09, 2017 18:56 IST
Sample these questions:
Have you had a threesome or been part of an orgy?
Have you had sex in a gym?
Have you made out on a plane?
Imagine these questions being thrown at two women actors on the anvil of stardom by a superstar filmmaker on a popular chat show televised across the nation and beyond. Now imagine them having a good time answering them, giving out all the juicy details without batting an eyelash or mincing a syllable.
Sounds blasphemous, doesn’t it? In poor taste, and totally exposing the private lives of the women concerned to the public – so they could be mocked, scorned at, and judged at leisure, over and over again.
But nothing of the sort happened. Not one eyebrow was raised or a traditionalist offended. In fact, everyone had such a good laugh finding out about the sexual activities of their favourite actors that the host had to concede it was one of the most entertaining segments of his show.
The situation is still unthinkable to you, right? I cannot blame you. We have never seen anything of the sort on Indian television. Usually, what we see is heroines having to explain what they were doing at a restaurant with a man and repeatedly denying their relationships – until they get married. Who can accuse them, really? But this situation I just asked you to conjure up isn’t entirely hypothetical. All of it did happen last Sunday, but with just one insignificant difference – the questions were asked to two leading actors and not ‘actresses,’ as we call them. But that seemed to have made all the difference.
Though his films talk of extramarital relationships, homosexuals and Indian diaspora, and his talk show gets out of the biggest celebrities all that every gossip magazine/website dreams of, Karan Johar is yet to revolutionise his couch.
Remember the hullaballoo that was created the last time two women decided to speak their mind on his show? Every time Deepika Padukone and Sonam Kapoor have appeared on Koffee with Karan after their joint appearance in Season 3, they have been visibly restrained and cautious. Progressive as he may be with his bold themes, Johar plays it safe with women guests on his chat show, much like everyone else in the industry and the people around us. He, of course, isn’t the only one.
Firstpost recently interviewed Soha Ali Khan and Vir Das ahead of the release of their film 31st October. While the interviewer asked all sorts of sex-related questions to Vir (would you pay or get paid every time you have sex, would you have someone watch you have sex or watch them instead), he focused majorly on relationships when questioning Soha, who – it was readily perceived – happens to be “conservative and shy”.
Ranveer Singh and Vaani Kapoor had appeared recently on The Kapil Sharma Show to promote their upcoming film Befikre. Though Ranveer was asked all sorts of “toilet” questions (farts and flushes), Vaani was spared the ignominy. Why, you may ask? Because they were “really mean questions for a girl to answer”. Girls/women obviously fart, flush and have sex, but they cannot discuss it in public because that would be an express declaration of their act, which our audience isn’t ready to acknowledge. Not as yet.
A man/woman may choose to answer a question or not. But to deprive them of that choice by treating them differently is unfair. It is much like the parents who make jokes about their son’s relationships with their relatives, but snub any mention of their daughter’s boyfriend — only worse, for here you are fuelling the prejudices of an entire nation.
While it is heartening to see married women like Twinkle Khanna (women are not faucets) and Vidya Balan (women like it, want it, need it as much as men do) go all guns blazing on KJo’s couch, Johar’s Koffee will only be an ideal brew when he does a ‘Kiss with Them’ segment with unmarried women actors with as much mad fun as his antics with Ranbir Kapoor and Ranvir Singh last week.
The author tweets @sneha_bengani
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