Salman’s Obnoxious Actions And Abhishek’s Clueless Patronising… Grow Up, Boys!

Are these men from Bollywood truly clueless about their internalised misogyny or do they think they can get away with such statements and behaviour?

Salman Khan said women’s bodies are ‘precious’ and hence need to be ‘covered’. Abhishek Bachchan referred to his wife Aishwarya as ‘the Mrs.’ Me, I sighed gustily and shook my head.

Now these are wealthy, hugely privileged men – we can presume that they are urbane, well-travelled, aware and educated of social issues frequently discussed on social media. So how do they go on to put their feet so firmly and frequently into their mouths? Are they catering to a particular constituency or could some of these Bollywood personalities genuinely be that clueless?

Salman Khan – where do we even start!

It was an hour long episode of the popular TV show Aap Ki Adalat where Salman Khan was asked various questions, including one about a rule enforced on his sets. Apparently low necklines and revealing clothes are a no-no on his sets; women are told to dress ‘decently’.

He proceeds to explain himself: women’s bodies are precious he says – the more they are covered, the better it is – and the audience breaks into applause. This isn’t about the girls but about boys and how they look at ‘your sisters, wives’ and he doesn’t want women to go through such ‘humiliation’, says Salman Khan.

OK, so lots to unpack here. Khan claims to make a ‘decent movie’, and decent refers only to the sets? He doesn’t seem to care overmuch about the objectification of women on the screen. We see the women clad in some reasonably revealing cholis there. Or perhaps this is ‘Indian clothing’ and as such gets a free pass?

Also, define decent – all the raging testosterone, smashing skulls, airborne bodies, spurting blood, glorified vigilantism is family fare? All the loose cannons tearing around presuming to defend whatever it is they are supposed to be defending… all the violence, blood and gore is decent?

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Then of course there is the absolutely glaring double standard here: Salman Khan himself manages to divest himself of his shirt in every single movie of his – it just seems to disappear at the merest excuse. Women however must cover themselves because otherwise it vitiates the atmosphere on set?

“The Mrs.?” Who talks like that anymore?

The tweet was meant to shower praise on his wife Aishwarya Rai Bachchan for her work in a new film, which it does. But referring to your wife as ‘the Mrs.’? As though she was a dutiful housewife from the 50s instead of a world renowned star? OK, I get that he thought he was being cute, or funny or colloquial, but alas he ended up being none of those.

When a commentator asked him to ‘let her sign more movies’, he tweeted that his wife certainly did not need his permission to do anything.

He was stating the obvious, but the fact that someone needed to be set straight on this is itself telling. Also telling is the fawning praise he receives for being ‘understanding’, for the ‘support’ he gives his wife, his ‘upbringing’, the ‘richness of (his) family values’ etc. etc… did he say in any one tweet that he will share parenting responsibilities? No.

Still clueless – in 2023

Salman Khan’s ideas are hardly unusual – the whole women-are-precious-therefore-to-be-protected notion is problematic for so many reasons. It is the very basis for taking the responsibility off men for behaving responsibly and just decently. It again puts the onus on women to change their behaviour and limit their options/ activities.

Surely we should, by now, have moved past the medieval notion that men are somehow at the mercy of their animalistic emotions and unable to resist the blandishments of the archetypal female ‘temptress’? And why would women in brief clothes make any difference to the atmosphere on the sets if men behaved appropriately – that is the bare minimum, surely?

As for Abhishek Bachchan, maybe he is an affable, nice guy. Perhaps it didn’t even occur to him how condescending and patronising it sounds to use ‘the Mrs’ to refer to his massively successful wife. Unfortunately for him, women now have very little patience with men who think sort of thing is funny or cute or whatever it was he was aiming to be.

We have even less time for the paternalistic attitudes of Salman Khan and the way he presumes to infantilise women. We women would like to invite Bollywood into the year 2023 – clueless isn’t cute anymore.

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About the Author

Reena Daruwalla

A former lawyer, now freelance writer, fauji wife, mother, singer, knitter and lover of my own cooking, I have altogether too many opinions and too few convictions. The more I learn the more I am read more...

38 Posts | 27,124 Views

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