Since its inception in the 1930s, Bollywood has been the go-to place for entertainment for a large fraction of the Indians.
We all love Bollywood and most of us even dream of becoming a Bollywood actor or actress. Everything in our daily lives from the way we dress, speak, behave, the style we choose to the way we think has been impacted by the cinemas.
We even see little kids dancing to the songs such as Chikni Chameli from Agneepath and Sheila Ki Jawaani from Tees Maar Khan. This shows the intensity of the impact created by Bollywood on young Indians and our society.
Do these kids know the meaning of those songs?
The lyrics of some of these songs go from bad to worse. Have you ever realized that most Bollywood songs that you rocked to so happily as a child were disgustingly sexist?
How do these kinds of songs and movies influence millions of young and old minds, across urban and rural India?
Bollywood films have a great impact on one’s perception of sexuality and body image. Bollywood films are indeed sold on women for they focus on objectifying women, but these methods adopted to portray women are not only limited to the screen but have a social impact too.
Misogyny is not a new thing in Bollywood
Cinema has far-reaching consequences on the young minds of Indians and Bollywood’s portrayal of women has been stereotypical for way too long.
For a long time, Bollywood romances have solely been an expression of male desire with women having no say. They are portrayed as eye-candy and hyper-sexualized in most of the advertising posters to attract the audience and added to the fuel are the item songs where a female in revealing and modern clothes dances amid a pack of men.
It is very common in commercial films that female characters are objectified as mere sexual objects without intellectual capability, while men are portrayed as strong, professional, and intellectual, and heroic.
The depiction of misogyny in Bollywood is hardly a new problem and is deeply rooted in the industry. Kabir Singh, for instance, though criticized for the way it portrayed an abusive relationship as a form of love was one of the highest-grossing movies of 2019.
“An international study finds that women in Indian movies are made to emphasize their sex appeal but are unlikely to have professions.”
Women are usually portrayed as sexual objects in Indian films and are mostly used for supportive and decorative roles as is evident in Kabir Singh and most Indian films.
Are Bollywood makers fully aware of glorifying and promoting misogyny in relationships?
These movies have made some people fear that it would inspire or even drive people to unacceptable behavior and may promote the dangerous idea that sexual harassment is acceptable. The success of this kind of movie which glorifies misogyny shows that there is still a long way to go to bring a change in the perception of sexuality among young Indians.
Showcase of Body Image
Movies have always been a very effective means of communication and the impression of sexuality and body image as shown in Bollywood films tend to implant wrong ideas in their minds and mislead them.
The female actor is shown beautiful and attractive with a light skin tone and a perfect body which makes the hero get attracted towards her. This portrayal of the women in Bollywood films has led many young girls to achieve the unrealistic beauty standards of the female actors going through the painful process of waxing and other beauty care with the desire to look attractive in the eyes of their partner.
Not only women but men too are the victims of these notions. Bollywood hero is objectified as a tall person with a chiseling physique and without body hair and fat. Most of the men are under hidden pressure to feel good about their bodies and attract their partners.
Most of the youth have forgotten to embrace their bodies. Not everyone’s body type is the same nor has the same skin tone all over their body. It is important to remember that it is their professional necessity that makes the actors take special care to maintain even skin tone and look beautiful to attract the audience.
While some filmmakers are trying to change the depiction of sexuality in Indian films, yet there is much to be done to have empathy and sensibility towards real women and the problems they face.
Bollywood’s idea of sexuality has far-reaching consequences on India’s social fabric. The actors need to realize that overemphasis of sexual scenes can have a huge impact on the young girls and boys and should have the courage to turn down the characters that objectify women with negative body image.
It’s time for all of us to take the responsibility to inculcate realistic cultural values among the young minds so that at least the next generation would know the reality and show respect towards others as well as themselves.