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As artists, we need to strive for the highest virtues, and embody them as we are the light of the world. That’s the sole purpose of art. It’s definitely not promoting misogynistic trash and criminal vices in the name of art.
Bigg Boss 16 started on a controversial note with Sajid Khan’s participation with the #MeToo allegations by many women accusing him of sexual misconduct and abuse.
I’ve been following the highlights of Big Boss 16 ever since I heard of Sajid Khan’s participation in the show. As expected, it was an attempt to whitewash his image, win the audience’s trust, and get back to business i.e. direction. Sajid Khan presented a mellow version of himself, unlike his usual loud, flamboyant persona he sported in his heydays. He was mostly quiet, but was smart to choose his power clout selectively, including international singer Abdu Rozik and riding in on his popularity and reputation.
Apart from Sajid Khan, there were two other controversial contestants, MC Stan and Shalin Bhanot, in the show. The three men are good friends. Shalin and Sajid have been friends for long before the show. MC Stan was part of Sajid’s group in Big Boss. Like Sajid, Stan and Shalin’s motivation to take part in Bigg Boss was to whitewash their images.
Since I’d already shared my thoughts about Sajid Khan in an earlier article here, I’ll discuss the other misogynists in the show.
First the good. Shalin has a fun side and is a born entertainer. This made his stint in Big Boss 16 memorable. It came as no surprise when Ekta Kapoor offered him the lead role in one of her upcoming TV series during the finale episode.
But here’s where the problem lies with Shalin Bhanot: Abuse of power and privilege. He dismissed his ex-wife Dalljiet Kaur’s accusations of domestic violence on the show.
Dalljiet revealed in an interview how she was hurt by his dismissal of her allegations of abuse and also for using their son’s name in the show. Despite that, she rooted for his win. Few weeks after the show ended, she said in another interview how Shalin Bhanot has not yet contacted her or their son yet. Inside the show, Shalin’s equation with Tina Datta went from a love story to a hate story. Datta shared how Shalin’s a better actor than a person.
In fact, we saw genuine sisterhood between Tina Datta and Priyanka Chahar Choudhary. So, it was disappointing when Farah Khan, who was one of the show hosts, slammed Tina and Priyanka, calling them the two most hated contestants on the show. She called Priyanka a vamp and termed Tina as manipulative with a lot of attitude. It was almost as if Farah suggested that throwing attitude is reserved for a select few.
In all fairness, Priyanka, Archana, and Tina were the only women in the show who stood for themselves. While it was predictable that Farah Khan would obviously support her brother Sajid Khan and his friends, it was still appalling to see her being openly biased and rude in her role as the show host. I wonder why the organisers decided to have a relative of the participant to play host as it’s unfair to the other contestants.
When Tina Datta was eliminated in the same episode, Archana Gautam called out Shalin Bhanot’s deceptive ways, to the extent of faking his depression on the show, to win sympathy votes, and make Tina Datta look bad. Archana accused Shalin of slandering Tina Datta and Soundarya Sharma and getting them eliminated while he whitewashed his image.
MC Stan, the winner of Bigg Boss 16, is an Indian rapper with a rags-to-riches journey. At the outset, his story seems inspirational but unfortunately, he’s a misogynist with a capital M. He keeps abusing women in his songs calling them aunty, ra*&i, and other unmentionables.
Auzma Sheikh, his ex-girlfriend, has accused him of domestic violence. After their breakup, Stan shared her address on social media, and she started receiving rape and death threats from his fans. The rapper sent his goons to beat her up. He’s also been accused of alleged threats, violence, and even murder, and being proud of his criminal acts. His attitude towards the other female contestants was condescending and disrespectful. When asked whom he would not meet outside the show, his answer was Archana Gautam.
Archana Gautam, politician and model, my most favourite contestant this season, took on and called out MC Stan several times. Post the show, she’s been vocal about how all MC Stan did was sleep on the show. And how from now on, the contestant with the most social media followers gets to win automatically, irrespective of their performance inside the house.
She’s right because he was not entertaining or inspiring on the show. All he did was flaunt his wealth, popularity, misogyny, and kept harping that he came from a small basti, to win the public’s sympathy. It’s strange how he looks eerily like a desi Snoop Dogg. That Stan doesn’t want to be friends with Archana Gautam shows how much he detests honest, strong, and assertive women.
Talking of MC Stan’s popularity and social following of 7.7 million followers, if he slept his way to the trophy as Archana said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the guy used his money power to buy his followers and get his PR to hype his stardom. We live in times where everything from social following, likes, comments, and shares can be bought. So, the news that his first Insta live post his Big Boss win broke all records, may be suspect.
It’s obvious MC Stan has supporters in high places, including the host and organisers of the show. In fact, when MC Stan won the show, it was Sajid Khan who cheered the loudest, as if it was his win. Farah Khan threw a huge party that was exclusive, obviously cheering the good times that lie ahead for her brother, Sajid Khan and his Big Boss 16 boy squad – MC Stan, Abdu Rozik, Shalin Bhanot, and Shiv Thackerey. Of course, there were also women who warmed up to this boy squad such as Sumbul Touqeer and Nimrit Kaur Ahluwalia. It was a shameless display of power, wealth, and misogyny.
When he was asked about his misogynistic behaviour in the show, MC Stan’s lame response was,” I have a mother and girlfriend.” Dude, all abusers have a mother and possibly romantic interests.
MC Stan’s win is a win for misogyny.
This is Bigg Boss. And who’s the host? Salman Khan, the ‘Bhai’ of Bollywood, with several court cases against him. When he was arrested, Salman Khan said that there’s no jail built that can lock him up forever. When he got arrested for a few hours, he received a massive amount of love and support from the industry and the public alike. Salman made insensitive rape jokes during the promotion of ‘Sultan’, “Filming the wrestling shots was the most difficult thing. When I used to walk out of that ring, it used to be actually like a raped woman walking out.”
Previous contestant on Bigg Boss, Sapna Bhavnani has publicly spoken out against him.
Sapna said, “This man misuses people and I don’t have to give him importance.” She tweeted despite the rape threats, “I really salute all, especially women who have the courage to speak up against Salman irrespective of the rape threats and the cuss words!” When asked why she took part in Big Boss, Sapna explained why while summing the show aptly,
“I went there because never in the history of TV, a woman like me was shown. After me, look at the trend I created. After that they had Diandra, Bani. But before that there wasn’t a woman like me who was represented on the show. People needed to see that there are women like me in India and when I got so popular, then they thought maybe we should feature more women like that. I didn’t need to survive the show. They needed to survive me. They didn’t survive me. They still have that chauvinistic pig (Salman Khan). In fact, every person in the show, every contestant, they are such m** and b**. The whole show is like that.”
Aishwarya Rai and her parents had filed a legal case against Salman for violence. Somy Ali recently accused him of gaslighting, violence, sodomy, and death threats. She also called out his misogyny during their relationship when he cheated on her with several women. When confronted, he beat her, saying, “I am a man and only men can cheat, not women.”
There’s no question that Big Boss was Sajid Khan’s attempt to make a comeback in Bollywood. There’s also no question that he’s talented like Farah Khan, his sister. We know the duo for their quirky, off-beat movies with tremendous mass-appeal. Post the pandemic, Bollywood has been in a financial crutch, and the demand for directors like Sajid Khan will be at an all-time high. At the end of the day, it’s all about the money. Sajid Khan will ensure that the industry is making its fair share of it with his movies.
I understand we all have a dark side in us that can overpower our good side in certain phases of life. I also understand we can overcome those dark tendencies and become better people by acknowledging our misdeeds and how we hurt others. So yes, I believe in second chances, especially if someone’s regretful of their past actions, and will mend their ways.
However, exclusion, misogyny, violence, and gross abuse of power are not cool. I know no one cares about principals in the entertainment industry anymore. However, art is based on character, and artists are the courageous and empathetic truth tellers. As artists, we need to strive for the highest virtues, and embody them as we are the light of the world. That’s the sole purpose of art. It’s definitely not promoting misogynistic trash and criminal vices in the name of art.
It’s high time we stop hailing gangsters as artists, and their criminal expression as art.
Tina Sequeira is an award-winning writer and marketer. Visit her website to know more: www.thetinaedit.com
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