Telescope: At her expense

In the guise of entertainment and news, a lot of talking down to women. During the IIFA Awards, star scions of Bollywood guffawed at their own witticisms at the expense of Kangana Ranaut louder than the assembled audience.

Written by Shailaja Bajpai | Published:July 20, 2017 12:22 am
TV Soaps, feminism, television, women, gender inequality, IIFA Awards, Karan Johar, saif ali khan, varun dhawan, Kangana Ranaut, india news, indian express At IIFA awards, presenters Karan Johar, Saif Ali Khan and Varun Dhawan threw “rocks” at Kangana Ranaut for calling out Bollywood on “nepotism”.

On Sunday, when a presenter buried every part of herself, except her head, in the sand, you wondered why she was under cover and what would happen next; you will be disappointed to learn that nothing happened next — it was merely a ploy to grab your attention for the next little grain of breaking, exclusive, super-duper news from the world of Hindi soaps (Saas, Bahu aur Betiyaan, Aaj Tak).

Does it bother anyone that it made the woman look perfectly ridiculous?

The same evening, Colors telecast the IIFA Awards direct from New York where, as you either witnessed or learnt the next day from the news channels, presenters Karan Johar, Saif Ali Khan and Varun Dhawan threw “rocks” at Kangana Ranaut for calling out Bollywood on “nepotism”. These star scions of Bollywood guffawed at their own witticisms at her expense louder than the assembled audience. Dhawan and Johar have since regretted their childish comments which were made, Karan Johar told NDTV 24×7, in “humour”. Let’s get this straight: They spoke in front of everyone who matters in Bollywood and before a live television audience around the world, but, hey guys, since it was only a joke — a poor, tasteless, locker room one, but a joke nevertheless — it doesn’t really count?

Wonder if Ranaut is rolling on the floor with uncontrollable laughter.

India News didn’t want to bury women or laugh at them, it wanted to educate them for the arduous journey of life. In pursuance of this noble objective, it has employed a “Family Guru” to advise women. Her advice? Continue to groom and maintain yourselves after and throughout marriage; during the honeymoon which is a time of “intimacy”, reveal what you want about yourself; “be assertive not aggressive”; for everlasting happiness, if there is such a state, touch the feet of the elders in the family, particularly those of your ma and pa in law. Got it?

There was much more in this vein but you get the general drift, don’t you? A woman must look like a bride at all times and behave like the perfect bahu, also all the time. Even on her honeymoon.

Please don’t behave like Kangana Ranaut or even Faye D’Souza who uses The Urban Debate on Mirror Now to take up the cause and cases of women who are demeaned. On Tuesday, for instance, she called out the trolls who went after cricketer Irfan Pathan’s wife for wearing nail polish. So did other channels but D’Souza has been doing so with a consistency that is commendable.

Then there’s a gentleman called Rahul Easwar, described as an author and activist on We The People (NDTV 24×7), who says right-wing people like him believe in “family-ism” as opposed to “feminism” and feel that if sexuality is unleashed, it could lead to a social “collapse”. Basically, behave woman, know thy place which is of course in the home as the perfect bahu — did we just hear that somewhere?

The discussion was on “Female Sexuality: Why the Taboo?”, prompted by the imminent release of the film, Lipstick Under My Burkha this Friday, after it had not been cleared by the Censor Board for being too much of a “lady oriented” film. Huh?

Now wouldn’t we all like to listen to a debate on “Male Sexuality: Why actors appear in briefs?” for Lux Cozi or Rupa Frontline ads, including none other than Varun Dhawan? But when last did you hear male sexuality discussed on television, let alone their underwear?

And don’t let’s even get started on women and the TV soaps. Here, women already follow the “Family Guru” by being beautifully groomed morning and night — and especially when they rise, out of bed, first thing in the morning. It’s the eighth wonder of the world how they manage to do so but never mind, TV soaps are not meant to reflect reality even remotely.

One other comment which has as little to do with the above as the presenter buried in sand had to with TV soaps: The Wimbledon telecast was wonderful to watch but for the very annoying promo for the add-ons for the Wimbledon Channel and Highlights which crept up on the left hand of the screen just before a serve (Star Sports). How can you do that to Roger Federer?

shailaja.bajpai@expressindia.com

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