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Apr 25 2013

Start with stopping the item songs. What do YOU say?

Dec 29th 2012 a young 23 year old girl, Nirbhaya- the heart, soul and life of her parents, lost the battle with life and passed away. She had fallen prey to the most ghastly of human act by six demons. The incident spurred a movement never seen before. People took to streets, shaken to the core by the torture and torment that the girl underwent. Promises were made, but alas, only to be broken. Politicians continue to sit back, refusing to make the country safe for women, while the atrocities continue.

On Apr 15th, we were yet again reminded of the monstrous form of men, a form beyond comprehension. What can possibly drive someone to subject a 5 year old to the kind of assault even animals aren’t capable of?  Again protesters took to streets, while the government sits tight. We seethe with anger and frustration and wonder over and over, what has gone wrong and how can we right it?

Of course, the government needs to step up their act and implement some really strict laws that would mete out severe punishments to perpetrators of crime against women. But do you think, Bollywood, as an icon of today’s culture, plays a role in people's psyche too? If so, do you think we should start by stopping the item songs? Yes, we’re talking of stopping the Munni, Sheila, Bubli and yes, stopping the Fevicol, Zandu and the likes that are on the rise- at least the way they’re picturized. We asked you and you replied. Here's the verdict. 

Apr 29 2013

Start with Stopping the Item Songs. Let's Say It.

So we hear that the soon to be released movie “Shootout at Wadala” has three item songs. While Kangana Ranaut is the lead, Priyanka Chopra does an item song, “Babli Badmaash”, Sunny Leon does the ‘O Laila’ and the singer Sophie Chaoudry does the ‘Ala Re Manya’ over much leching, I’m sure. Now we danced on ‘Munni Badnam Hui’, albeit with a few reservations at first before opening up. We even warmed up to gyrating on ‘Sheila Ki Jawani’. Okay we even collectively agreed that Kareena Kapoor totally got away with doing the ‘Fevicol Se’ but the bottom line is- in the wake of the increasing number of cases of crimes against girls in India, should the Indian film industry take its share of responsibility in what’s going drastically wrong with our society? We asked YOU if we should start by stopping the so-called "item" songs.


Item songs are the mostly out of context songs in Indian movies with awesome beats, pun-filled lyrics, featuring famous or wanna-be famous actresses, commonly endowed with long abs, wearing attires that expose the just-mentioned-long-abs and cleavage, with lots of men openly drooling at her. Our discussion here pertains to these kinds of item songs.


Sharmila Tagore said in a recent interview that these songs are played openly and unabashedly in weddings and other celebrations. Women are seen dancing to these songs. Then when the same songs are released on film then they become a problem. She felt that the same logistics should be applied both on and off screen.   She went onto say that we must not blame media images for the way woman are treated in society. There are deep socio-economic factors that are causing violence against women.

Kajol said in another interview that these have always been around. And there are countless others in the industry who see no reason to stop this rising trend of item songs.


So knowing that the country’s socio-economic factors often cause violence against women, does it not become even more imperative that we not encourage it?  ‘Item songs’ of the past were done by Helen, Bindu, etc  but were certainly not one-woman-many-men kinds.  Kareen Kapoor’s ‘Yeh Mera Dil’ in Don and ‘Chaiya Chaiya’ from Dil are more in keeping with the concept.

Of course, at end of the day, the onus lies on us- to imbibe the good and shun the bad. Like Prashant Sharma, from Ahmedabad, Indiathough fully agreeing that these songs are vulgar, subscribes to the theory that we own our actions irrespective of the environment- in his words. He blames the ‘sanskaar’ of men who behave badly. He points out that movies show mother-in-laws mistreating their daughter-in-laws too. Change has to come from within. That’s true. Of course, that is where the parents come in. The rich and the poor alike have to look into their kids’ eyes and tell them what’s wrong and what is right. Parents are never off the hook. It is their prime responsibility to instill good sanskaar (culture) in their kids. But as Roli Mehrotra, from Dallas, Texas, points out, “we do have to start from the place that is 20% the cause and has 80% of impact due to its reach and influence”. And here’s the danger in the way the item songs are picturized. While movies show that there is a consequence to evil deeds, group leching is practically passed on as ‘normal’. While movies all over the world do show men “enjoying” the moment as part of “male bonding”, it is always depicted in a controlled club setting, any other place- its’ pure evil. The worst part in an Indian movie is that it is thrown in right smack in the middle of an otherwise family movie, for no apparent reason.  And that is highly irresponsible of the movie producers. It promotes “gang versus girl” assault. Like Roli puts it, “people get conditioned by watching something over and over again to the point that media makes them believe it is normal”. If at all such song and dance combinations are to be made, like Roli says,” release them as music videos that are meant only for adults”. Alpa Shah from North Carolina suggests that Indian movies and TV shows need to be rated as PG, R, etc. That’s long overdue.

So let’s say it- all those producers who think they have hit the jack pot in having discovered an easy way to market their movies, think again. Because ultimately, we should all do our part in righting the wrong.

let's say it

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