'Yes, Bollywood commodifies women'

By Hindustan Times

At a time when the entire country is asking for dignity and respect for women after the brutal Delhi gangrape, lyrics of hit Bollywood songs like the one above — Fevicol Se, are drawing flak from audiences for objectifying women. And perhaps, in a first from the fraternity, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt admits that Bollywood does commodify women.

“There is no denying that filmmakers have portrayed women as objects, but it’s time to correct that — to portray women as characters who exercise rights, make decisions, and are in the driving seat of their lives, not as mute animals being led by the chain by the menfolk,” he says.

Bhatt says filmmakers will have to be “sensitive to the environment” because filmmakers are also from the society. “If the society is in turmoil, you need to respond to that turmoil. If people feel that women are being commodified in the media, then you need to pause and introspect. You cannot go on a denial mode, and say, ‘we don’t do anything.’ We should be brave enough to face it and make corrections,” he says.

The filmmaker, however, makes it clear that Bollywood does not contribute to violence against women. “The answer is a resounding no. Indian cinema has portrayed rapists as demons who have been brought to justice by the heroes. There is no credible evidence that Bollywood has contributed to violence against women.”

Also, when asked about the recent criticism of the ‘item number’ culture, he says, “Item songs have not come into existence now. I can think of Helen, who performed cabaret numbers.”

For every three movies or songs that might do that, there are three more that are doing just the opposite — Zareen Khan, actor who has done item songs, on films objectifying women.

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