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Here we are, talking about how Bollywood objectifies women, how regressive the item songs and their lyrics are, and how perhaps it’s time we break the stereotype and treat women with more respect.
It was one of those Sunday evenings when we assemble before the laptop, for an extended family online gathering. The initial pleasantries done, our folks settle into their favourite routine activity, The Talent Exhibition. I generally avoid this particular section, my teenager being well past that age. This was particularly meant for the under ten age group.
So, the relatives hardly converse, as the young mothers are very eager to show off their kids. I see the children decked up, ready with their keyboards and guitars. Some sing, others do the karaoke, while other mothers wait for their turn impatiently.
Amongst all the chaos, one mother declares that her four year old daughter would dance. The others hoot their encouragement as the lady adjusts the screen and the audio.
“She’s performing impromptu,” the mother claims as the little one readies herself, clad in filmy costumes, makeup and matching accessories, looking like the replica of a Bollywood item number.
“Play the Hook Up Song, louder!” the lady admonishes the rest of her household as the daughter stares innocently at the camera.
My jaws drop. Lady, does the kid know what’s Hookup?
The soundtrack begins and the tiny girl gyrates to the trendy beats. She falters at times, a bit confused, dancing before a computer.
“Do it properly. Shake your hips well like the actress. Lip sync, come on,” her mother calls out.
I take pity on the child, the audio goes off frequently, her steps go haywire. The mother’s directions carry on till the Hook Up song fortunately stops abruptly.
The participants applaud and cheer, I’m glad the fiasco finally ended. But the mother is apparently dissatisfied.
A round more of talent hunts and the lady interrupts.
“She wishes to dance again, the last song didn’t play well. I’ve checked the system, she’ll dance to Chikni Chameli.”
Oh for God’s Sake, I scream out loud in my mind, give the little one a break. But she kicks off again, with more vigour and enthusiasm. Her mother seems to have well utilized the in between time, the child lip syncs the raunchy lyrics perfectly and dances suggestively, just like in the movie.
The applause gets louder this time around, her mother now seemed satisfied.
I sigh, so much for women empowerment, the subject of the hour, the need of the day.
And then we have mothers, educated mothers whose claim to fame happens to be their kindergarten children mouthing Bollywood songs with strong sexual content, not to mention the moves that go along.
Let me be very clear in saying, that I’ve nothing against kids dancing, and their parents showing them off. My concern is the content, and the misfortune of watching underage children swaying to vulgar songs which echo sex and sexism. And all through the performance, the kid wouldn’t know what any of that ever meant, the true implication of Garm Husn, Halkat Jawaani, Badnaam Munni, Hook Up or break Up.
But then the parents sure know, so why subject your kid to this misogyny, from an age so young. Be it popular reality shows, Annual Day celebrations, marriage functions or birthday parties, what’s played in the name of music is popular Bollywood and ones first to perform are children of impressionable age.
The irony that, all of those who accuse Bollywood of demeaning and exploiting women, encourage their children to promote the very sentiments, beats me.
For now, I return to the online family gathering, wondering how many more children are queued up for their exquisite cinematic performances. With the kind of praise the children garner for these, at times I wonder, am I the only one? Upset about something perhaps so trivial?
First published here.
Image source: vinsky2002 on pixabay
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