Charms of the others..

The women on one of my whatsapp groups ( Schoolmates) are united in Crush-cum-lust for the hunky stars from South. Prabhas, Rana, Ram Charan, Suriya and the other muscular gents with beautiful eyes grace the group DP several times. It is perhaps the only thing I relate to with the members, but that is another post. This fandom is largely thanks to the fact that for some years now, Hindi movie channels are awash with dubbed movies from South. The realization for ‘Non-Madrasis’ that Bollywood is not synonymous with ‘ Indian cinema’, nor can claim any superiority when it comes to music, technical aspects, story-telling, acting- has never been more evident with so much primetime focus every day. In recent years, there has been a mass awakening of sorts to the killer looks and rustic charms of the South heroes. To me this appeal has been immortalised in popular imagination with the image of the drool worthy Prabhas of sweet smile and beautiful eyes, in wet dhoti carrying Shivlinga on his sculpted shoulders ( which is a erotically charged association, come to think of it.)

The women in my group always wonder why aren’t these sexy men coming in a mainstream Hindi movie. Would they ever make it big in the Bollywood. Which role would suit them. Instinctively and with my experience in media- the answer is no.

For decades, Bollywood has had female superstars who were not from the Hindi speaking areas. Bengali and Marathi stars from Sharmila to Nutan to Madhuri. In recent years, quite a few women from European/ American countries have entered the industry. Katrina Kaif being the most successful of this lot. ( She also reportedly couldn’t speak Hindi for years ).

But for the purpose of this article, lets stick to the women from hardcore ‘Non- Hindi’ areas, i.e. South. Vaijayantimala, Hema Malini, Rekha, Shridevi, Jaya Prada are some of the most successful ones of the lot. Some of them like Shridevi, was a superstar in Tamil/ Telugu before she arrived in Bollywood and couldn’t speak Hindi for a long time despite of ruling the roost. Deepika and Aishwarya have come from international modelling backgrounds and while they have South Indian background/ last names, they are perhaps closer to Hindi speaking urban metros than the women of 80s and 90s. Overall, we can safely say that the success of a female star has not been hindered by their linguistic background/ heritage ever in Bollywood.

On the contrast, I can’t think of a single male star who has made it big despite of not being from typical ‘Hindi’ background. It is usually, Punjabis and North Indian men who are mainstream successes. The Southern mega-stars like Kamal Hassan, Nagarjuna, Chirnjeevi, Rajnikanth have been, at the most, recognizable faces for Hindi moviegoers. That’s about it. ( Again, can you think of any male star from any other industry making it big here? Nope. Even Uttam Kumar couldn’t make a dent. International models like Milind Soman haven’t been able to make it like their female counterparts could) If you take all the mainstream stars, their last names/ linguistic heritage has been uniformly Hindi/ Punjabi.

And then in the last 2 decades, the Tamil/ Telugu industry have seen Non-south women making it big. Tamannah, Kajal Aggarwal, Tapsee, Nagma and a dozen more women have been on the top. But again, you don’t see any non-South men making it big there. ( Interestingly, several non-South men have made it big as Villains – which is another post )

So, to conclude- While women can transcend linguistic boundaries while onscreen, men can’t when it comes to mainstream film industries.

My theory is that this is because mainstream industries tell stories about the men and thus require authenticity from men portraying these main characters. Women are seen as transient. It is expected that they adapt to ( largely male) systems which they go into. So be it their marital home, or the movie industry whose language they can’t speak- they are forgiven, nay, welcomed, as long as they adapt to their new homes and stay happy in status quo.

It would be easy to reduce it to simplistic statement that since women are not expected to essay demanding roles in mainstream cinema, and that they function cosmetically within the movies- it doesn’t matter where they come from. ( As long as they more-or-less are racially acceptable. Because you don’t see a woman from Arunachal Pradesh or China in Hindi movies, but women from Europe/ South America are welcome). But then how to explain Shridevi who was called a female Amitabh Bachchan? Or Hema-Malini the superstar? Or Rekha? No-one can challenge that these women and their stardom was based on their proven capacity to carry their movies on their shoulders to box-office success. Or that several times they essayed roles which were breakthrough for the times – being more important than the male ones. While a Tamannah could be explained away as the Telugu industry’s obsession over fair skin tone – how can you explain Nagma or Kajal Aggarwal?

Individually each of them can be explained. Some for their beauty, some for their dancing skills, some for their fair skin, some for their acting. But this theory falls apart when compared to male counterparts. Kamal Hassan doesn’t lack acting prowess. Rana can give any Bollywood star a run for their money in looks/ Machoness territory. And so on.

Another practical explanation could be the heredity. Many if not all today’s male stars have had benefits of their filmy families. Their fathers or uncles provide them with launch pads, sustain their initial career, they are helped by their seniors and friends in the industry. Women generally don’t have this benefit and where they do- they reap the advantages. ( The Hassan sisters, Sonakshi Sinha, The Kapoor sisters and so on.)

But again, why can’t established stars with national appeal move in industries? While the directors/ music directors/ editors/ DOPs can- why haven’t we seen any example of a successful male star moving from one industry to another with success? In fact when they do, they have to do so in secondary roles. ( Nobody will believe that Akshay Kumar will be equal to Rajnikanth in their upcoming movie together, will they?)

So coming back to the ‘authenticity’ theory. Men are expected to be ‘authentically’ representing the ‘roots’. You can’t have a non-Telugu guy representing the angst of Telugus in a Telugu movie. A woman is always expected to ‘adjust’ to the space she moves in. She is expected to forget her ‘maternal’ home and ‘ fit in’ with her new home. She can move in, while the man has to be ‘born’ in and ‘represent’ it. Her role could be bigger and better than the man’s occasionally. But the fact that she is accepted in that role, as a ‘native’ despite of her ‘other’ness is due to our collective acceptance of her ‘non-centrality’ to the representativeness of the culture.

Thoughts? Anti-theses? Arguments?

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Salmania..

I outright want to say that this is a highly irrational and contradictory post dedicated to the irrational guilty pleasure of loving Salman Khan.

I watched KICK last week and oh boy, does Bhai look boiling hot in the goatee and tight spandex.

I absolutely hate goatees. And gelled hair. And buffy muscles. And tight t-shirts. and crotch-hugging jeans. But on Salman it all looks like.. mmmmm…magic.

As expected, he sleepwalks through yet another ridiculous film, struts around like a lost bull and every now and then, oozes the easygoing sweet vulnerable charm which is his trademark.

My ongoing lusty affair with Salman Khan is filled with guilt and contradictions. But I have been thinking about it this week and I think there are a few reasons why he remains the most consistent beefcake in my life, despite of being the ultimate feminist nightmare.

1. Looks. I am extremely partial to men who continue to look this good. And there are very very few THIS good.
2. The disarming boyish charm and vulnerability, which makes me look beyond the macho chest thumping and ridiculous muscles and sexism in virtually all his movies.
3. The eyes. Simply the best eyes ever to grace Hindi cinema and ones who manage to convey several emotions at once. Yes, I do believe he is a fine actor when he chooses to, and every film of his has these priceless moments of baring the soul, which have never ever been recognised. There I said it.
4. Andaz Apna Apna- my all time favourite Hindi film.
5. Nostalgia.

I suspect the last one is the biggest reason. Nostalgia.

Salman Khan was the reigning star of my pre-pubescent hormones. I still remember watching Maine Pyar Kiya and the sultry vision of Salman in white ganjee playing saxophone and riding his bi-cycle down the stairs.

I had never seen something like this. Ever. How could I not fall for this strange-sweet-cute-sexy-gorgeous- clumsy boy?

And don’t forget. The small-town, non-glam girls like me and my friends were reassured, that if the doe-eyed sexpot like Salman could fall for someone ‘simply Suman’ and not the suave big city counterparts- then we had hope. Provided that we were sweet and innocent, which we believed we were. Since there was no other option really!!

As I grew into puberty and realised that being a Bollywood version of sweet and innocent woman meant sacrificing virtually every enjoyable thing- I sacrificed my ultimate dreamboat instead. I grew out of imagining Salman as the star of all my romantic fantasies!!

But, and it is a very important but- there was no harm in lusting after him, I was smart enough to realise. The perfect body. The melting eyes. The charm. The weird sense of humour. The floppy hair. The looks. The way clothes hug his body- as if they were invented for him. And the special way in which he bared it all with a child like simplicity.

Basically it has always been LUST.

But then over the years, there was also the surprising lovability and sincerity in performance which is lacking in virtually every major actor.

And above all- The absolutely stunning screen presence. Something inexplicable, only feel-able and totally adorable.

Over a period of time everything which I hated in a person came to be associated with him. Male Chauvinist- check. Sexist- check. Animal rights destroyer- check. Stalker- check. Criminal- check.

But human beings are filled with contradictions. Aren’t they? Despite of the overtly macho and sexist and conservative and criminal and outright dumb nature of most his films and his image- maybe it was my memories of sexual awakening, which still drew me in as a consistent fan.

I decided, perhaps hypocritically so, that enjoying a hunky man can be done by dissociating from his troubling image. I would always ignore the movies and news, and instead focused on select screen presence. Which was easy because the films he acted in were so obviously non-story-oriented.

I prefer watching selected clips. And songs. I have some silly favourites which make me feel absolutely charmed and refreshed.

And for a humongously judgemental person like me, it is a very very big thing!!

I seriously think that there has been something in him, which despite of his machoness, transcends the celluloid, and appeals to your very basic nature as a human being. You hope for him and chuckle when he bashes your hopes film after film. Most of the things he does on-off screen are highly offensive and downright criminal. But you want to forgive him. And you forgive him some more. And you hope that maybe he will see the right way and improve.

My friends call this ‘double-standards combined with delusion’ and I agree. Maybe I am a dupe of the magic of image and am willingly ignoring the very important reality. Maybe I am still as starstruck as I was as a 10 year old girl watching my first on-screen crush. Maybe I am a hypocrite to turn a blind eye to the obvious transgressions of this guy.

I know it and I have rationally tried to totally banish him as a non-fan. But then he comes wearing spandex and smiling that smile and blushing that blush and opening those doe eyes and phoooosshhh… all my resolutions to be politically correct with my fandom disappear and I am tempted to ogle at him some more.

And that is not all. You will laugh at this, but I hope he cleans his act so that I can be a fan without this guilt.

I wish he confesses to his crimes and does the rightful time in jail and comes out cleansed of his sins. Like a 1970s BW Blockbuster. I know.

I wish he lets go of his sexism- on and off screen .

I wish he chooses at least a few decent movies to prove that he indeed can act. ( And he can).

I wish he still retains his charm and sex appeal, but temper it with less drama in life.

There. I said it.

Now if that doesn’t sound like a true deluded Bhaitard, I don’t know what does!!

Boss….

Oh I am sure you have already seen and ranted on this ad. It is actually so bad ( one who got what product is being advertised will get a gift of Manchurian Masala), that it is surprising for it to have hit so many nerves.

Perhaps its pseudo-realstic- pretentious progressivism-gone-horribly- wrong is the reason for the mass rants against it. And perhaps the fact that we are smarter in spotting sexism these days.

This is why I am going to link it and proceed to rant about it myself:):)

After years of ‘woman is the CEO/boss of the house’ useless-pat-on-the back trope, we get a ridiculously sexist ad that shows a female boss telling her subordinate-at-workplace husband to stay back to do extra work at office, and then proceeding to go home and cook him a delicious meal and seductively asking him to come back to enjoy the said food.

Lest you think this lady is somewhat cuckoo in her head- because didn’t she ask him to stay back herself? Short term memory a. la. Aamir Khan in Ghajini? Or someone with a split personality like Aparichit? ( Hey, these popular Indian movies are totally accurate in depiction of any mental disorder, OK? Don’t be so snooty).

Noo… you realise she is a good Indian wife, who makes it up to her subordinate-at -work husband by cooking for him. After all, aren’t we all Indian women supposed to do that? Get good grades, earn well, look pretty in short hair and go on to cook perfect meals for our husbands?

Note ladies, that she softly says ‘sorry guys, you will have to just do it’ when her team complains about the timelines. Those of you whose boss said sorry to you, before asking you to stay back after-hours, please stop reading the post now.

OK, now for the rest of the 99% of the mortals who have continued reading this post- note that she looks slightly abashed- especially when she sees the disappointment on her team’s face and even asks her teammate ‘how is it going’, with a kind and considerate tone( we don’t know he is her husband yet.) Because if you want people to like a woman, especially a woman in power, you have to show her ‘soft’ side,lest people call her a bitch.

She looks tranquil in the car. Soft. Pondering. Soft. Sensitive. Soft.

And then she launches into WIFE MODE by asking her husband ‘Rohit’ ( the 21st century default Indian male name that replaced the erstwhile ‘Rahul’ of the 1990s) about what would he like to eat tonight. Because the moment a woman gets a free moment after a gruelling day at work, she likes to think about her husband’s dinner. It is totally natural. All of you, who after a long workday DON’T sprawl on sofa watching your favourite TV show over food cooked by someone else, or at least fantasize about it, please stop reading this post now.

OK, I see 99% of my readers are still reading.

Voila, she twists her hair in a pony at home, ponders about the contents of the fridge philosophically and rustles up a decidedly Udupi looking Chinese meal.

Then Rohit – the same team mate forced to stay back for work gets a call from ‘Wife.’ He sardonically replies ‘ Aaj late hoga. Boss ne bahut jam diya hai.’ ( Biiiiitch!!!)

Wife, who turns out to the said boss( Creative minds!! fantastic idea!!! whatta genius conceptualisation), sends him the video of the meal she lovingly prepared for him.

NOW, NOW, NOW WE GET THE PRODUCT which paid for this ad.

Those who DIDN’T think that the ad was for electrical kitchen appliance or a new brand of Indo-Chinese sauce, please stop reading this post.

OK, now for the rest of the 99% mortals still reading this post. The wife whispers seductively on the phone, ‘Boss ko bolo wife ne ghar bulaya hai’.

Then, the airtel tune starts and you realise that this piece of shit was actually an ad for 3 G connection. You sit quietly contemplating thousands of years of human evolution and how you always hated that Airtel tune and how right you were to pick up Vodafone. (Because how can this brain-dead ‘modern couple’ even compete with a cute pug?)

For all of you who DIDN’T think this woman is quite scary with her short-term memory loss and split personality and Udupi meal, a round of applause. Maybe you haven’t been watching instructive movies like Ghajini and Aparichit.

And a moral of the story for the remaining 99% of mere mortals. Here goes. Quite unintentionally , the ad makers have hit on the exact disorder that our society suffers from. That women are expected to have two distinct personalities: Modern professional woman outside and traditional wife/ mother/ daughter at home. They need to have a short term memory. Wipe out the BOSS identity as soon as you leave office and slip into WIFE identity.

You can be a boss with a corner office, have short hair, wear Sonia Gandhiesque sarees, ride in a chauffeur driven car, earn more money than your husband. But you have to slip into the ideal Indian wife mode as soon as you are in private sphere.

Otherwise, the balance of power just might tilt and patriarchy will shake. SCARY THOUGHT!!!

The ad stupidly celebrates the schizophrenia of our patriarchal society and I won’t even link the garden variety dumb excuses of ‘ WOMEN LIKE TO COOK FOR THEIR HUSBANDS SO WHAT IS WRONG IN SHOWING THE REALITY WHAAAAAA WHAAAA’ thrown by the ad makers and supporters of this ad alike.

But the good news is, that the ad has ruffled many feathers. And people are debating the ad, which has opened up a dialogue about the double shift many Indian women are ‘forced to do’ ( unlike ‘choose to do’ according to defenders of this ad). This is good news that ads like these don’t get a free pass for being covertly sexist. A debate on this ad is especially welcome because,

Because it pretends to be realistic unlike hundreds of ads that show sparkling women talking about detergent or their kids schoolbag as if it was some life-or-death issue.

Because it pretends to be progressive by showing a lady boss and goes on to justify the prevalent sexism in the society by perpetuating the worst and most dangerous stereotypes about women.

Because showing short-haired-lady-boss doesn’t make you a progressive.

Because it refuses to show a powerful woman who doesn’t look guilty in front of her subordinates for doing her job.

Because it reflects the pseudo-equal modern Indian marriage that women are calling out for what it is- a pseudo equal relationship built on age old stereotypes.

Because it champions the ultimate status of modern Indian man as ‘ boss in marriage’ and brushes his insecurities about the rising power of women.

And ALSO because it comes across as advertising CHINGS UDUPI SCHEZWAN CHAUPATI SAUCE and not a 3G CONNECTION.

There.

Bridge ( Bron/ Broen) season 2..

(I was looking in my archive and was shocked to see that I hadn’t published this post!! Especially since it deals with my 2 obsessions neatly wrapped in 10 episodes of pure bliss. Scandinavian Crime and Lady Detectives!)

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Bridge 2. Or Bron/ Broen 2 as it is called in original Danish/ Swedish. Speechlessly great, astounding tv. You know why you should watch this show even if you don’t watch anything else ( other than the equally brilliant first season)?

Outstanding Female characters.
So so non-cliched. It is a pleasure to see shows where women are shown as people. From heroic to bad ass villains to ordinary people caught in life’s complexities. The sheer range of women characters in Bridge- from cops to activists to lovers to tycoons to bitter troublemakers is huge. And there are no thin, young, suspiciously smooth-faced actors there. These women look and feel real and purposeful. Their individuality, intelligence, sexuality is so human, that watching something like Bridge painfully makes you aware of the sexism in virtually every other show.

Saga Noren.
The emotionally distant and inhumanly brilliant Saga gets a painful back story in this season, but the writers do not try to lazily explain Saga away. Saga epitomizes everything about the show. The morality, value system, detached honesty, cool rationality and a sweetly dark humour that makes you happy to be imperfect. The sheer range of this character makes me speechless. She is Lisbeth Salander’s nemesis – with a law rulebook in her hand. Saga tries hard to follow social norms in this season, mostly with hilarious outcome. She is trying hard to be in a relationship too and has memorised all the popular wisdom about modern relationships. Her desperate and ultimately unsuccessful attempts to be part of the normal society actually end up exposing the inherent hypocrisy of the world. Saga, ultimately, is so pure and adorable that you want to protect her from humanity. Not that she would let anyone do that.

Martin.
The intensely huggable and possessing merriest sparkly eyes with the best smile on TV papa bear, Martin is battling his demons from season 1. He is self-destructive in such a relatable way that you want to extend your hand towards the screen and stop him from treading the path that you know will harm him and his dear ones. Saga is perhaps the only one he relates to and is genuinely fond of without any complications. Martin is like you and me- weak, vulnerable, susceptible to temptations but ultimately a nice guy who desperately wants to do the right things.

Partnership.
Saga and Martin is one of the best detective partners in recent times. They are poles apart but are bound by their obsession with work and mutual respect/ affection for each other. Their friendship is priceless for both of them and is the only steady anchor in their rocky lives. In this season also Saga saves Martin’s family. Martin continues mentoring Saga in social niceties and being protective about her, albeit to disastrous results. When these two characters come together in one frame, it crackles with chemistry and camaraderie. Non romantic partnership between an eccentric woman and a more conventional and caring man seems to be the latest Scandinavian gender-bending formula, see Girl with Dragon Tattoo Series, The Killing. Saga and Martin seem like a classic detective pair- a cool, uber-rational, slightly superhuman genius ( Sherlock Holmes) is paired with a warm, genial partner ( a pumped up version of Watson) and the two form lasting friendship. But life is more complex than simple formulas and The Bridge shows us just how so. Towards the end of the show my stomach was twisted in knots with fear that our beloved pair might break off their friendship. The climax, was not unexpected but gut-wrenching nonetheless.

Lack of clichés:
Anything clichéd is going to be demolished in this show. If you, like I, try to be smart and predict the outcome- you will fall flat on your face. Because Bridge 2 is on a mission to give you characters, motives, clues and turn of events that twist the genre and your norms till they are unrecognisable. Seriously. Anything can happen in this show. So make sure not to form too many attachments and cling to any Sherlockian theories here- you will be deeply humiliated.

Emotional pitch:

I was watching the last episodes literally with bated breath, i.e., when you hold your breath for too long and your throat and jaw aches from too much emotion. The show peels away the characters and lays them bare. There is cruelty and honesty in the way we see the battle of conflicting emotions. Every lined face, every leafless tree, the dreary weather, race against time, disappointments, surprises crackle with muted tension. If it was not for Saga’s ‘I want to be normal’ humour, the show would have been unbearable in its sheer intensity.

Storytelling:

Even with a slightly sloppy and disappointing final answer to the mystery , the overall unrevealing of the suspense of the show is pitch-perfect, edge-of-the-seat. Which is not surprising knowing it is the Bridge we are talking about. There is very little one can talk without spoilers, so let me just say that your nerves will be fried in delicious anticipation when you watch the show.

Acting:

See it. Can’t be lauded enough. Can’t be reviewed. Just see it. Sofia Helin and Kim Bodnia are gods. And while Saga is a more challenging character, I think Bodnia’s Martin is my most favourite performance in the show.

Humanity:

Finally, the real success of the show is the deep, very relatable and very very moving humanity that envelops every character, every event, every motive. Be it extreme ideologies or misguided people or dysfunctional relationships- this show champions the imperfect humanity in all of us in a manner that is brutal and still filled with love. Does this make sense? After watching Bridge, I am unable to watch anything else because it just feels so fake and shallow and wannabe.

In nutshell, see the show. And be happy that such TV is being made and we are being able to watch it.

(I was looking in my archive and was shocked to see that I hadn’t published this post!! Especially since it deals with my 2 obsessions neatly wrapped in 10 episodes of pure bliss. Scandinavian Crime and Lady Detectives!)

Condomania- Do the Rex

I am sure I am about million years late on this one, but here goes the best India ad about sex I have ever seen.

It is not just because of Ranveer- on whom I have developed a special crush since RamLeela. I like me these overacting , slightly dumbish, cute boy toy heroes – and he is the freshest and the best of the category since Salman rode that cycle dressed in snug ganjee.

I really liked the ad because the mood and the tone is not that of ‘sex is a game and men are hunting writhing women’, which is normal for these silly deo and condom ads. Neither is it laughably steamy like your typical KS branding. Come on, why does the couple on the packet branding have sex on rough rocks is beyond me- can’t they just do it on the beach? More comfortable.

Do the Rex is a joyous, fun and energetic celebration of sex- without guilt, fake orgasmic faces and objectification. It is silly enough not to take itself too seriously- and treats sex as an enjoyable excercise. It is like good food ads- you feel good about yourself and you want to experience it impulsively.

Do watch the ad. And Do the Rex..

Dead women erotica

OK, I am not a Gone Girl groupie and I wrote earlier about how this sensational bestseller has misogynist problems of its own. But when I saw this image from the upcoming movie based on the book, I still groaned.

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In art and fashion and cinema, dead or dying or tortured women are fetishised and their agony is sexualized. 1980s’ slasher movies of Hollywood or the titillating rape scenes from Bollywood are crude examples of the same. But you see that even mainstream portrayals of women in varying degrees of pain,agony, death, torture suffer from the fetish trope.

It is not surprising that David Fincher has come out with this hugely problematic image. After all, marketing campaign of his Hollywood crap version of Girl with Dragon Tattoo attracted widespread criticism when he chose to sexualise Lisbeth Salander- a rare character of a woman whose whole essence is against objectification of women. This article sums it up nicely.

I can’t understand why Hollywood rarely makes creepy movies with not-so-normal female characters well. Fuck Fincher and the whole mediocre old boys. I highly recommend Stoker, if you want to watch debauched- erotic-creepy-women-centric thriller.

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It is disturbingly beautiful, eerie, deliciously pervy and doesn’t reduce its female characters to fetishised tropes. Hurrah. Not to mention absolute hunky bad boyness of Matthew Goode. This is a great Hollywood debut of Oldboy fame Park Chan Wook. He brings the uniquely Asian storytelling and cinematic style here with aplomb.

Anti domestic violence campaign and goddesses: A Raam Teri Ganga Mailee school of thought…

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I am very uncomfortable with this campaign. Just as I am with Raam Teri Ganga Mailee school of thought. Whereby, viewers are appealed to sympathize with a ‘pure’ woman who is abused by men ( and is usually saved by a man). We feel sorry for the woman because she was actually a ‘good girl’ and ‘still such bad things happened to her’!!!

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I get this campaign. I get it. ‘How can women face such atrocities in country where women are worshipped as avatars of goddesses?‘, is the pitch of this campaign. It is no doubt very well executed.The familiarity of the traditional goddess poses contrasts impact fully with the bruises. It shocks you and moves you to see these powerful idols battered and downcast.

But you see, the patriarchal logic doesn’t consider every woman as a goddess. Rather goddesses ‘symbolize’ the ideal behaviour expected of a woman. IF you behave in a certain way that is sanctioned by tradition, ONLY THEN you qualify to fit in with the symbolism.

And how do you fit in? Only by subscribing to the patriarchal system. If you don’t, then you are not a goddess, but a slut, an unfit wife, a bad mother, a loose woman, an unfeminine freak, a controlling shrew.

And so, since you are not a ‘devi‘, you deserve to be shown your place. You need to be a Ganga, otherwise nobody gives a damn if you are abused you know!
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This is what irks me in this campaign. The ‘goddess vs. whore’ analogy is so so ingrained in our culture that I think this campaign, with undoubtedly good intentions, falls in the patriarchal trap. It places women in the ‘every woman has a goddess inside her that should be respected‘ paradigm. The focus is on the ‘character of the victim’, albeit indirectly. And we are so so so fed up with ‘how should women behave to escape violence’ crap thrown in our face every day. Well intentioned or not!!

Domestic violence as a crime is a very new concept even to the educated urban Indians. Beating up your wife (or other female members of the household) and abusing them has been considered ‘ Miyan-Biwi ke beech ki baat‘. Our society doesn’t exactly condone it, but it is not considered as a matter of ‘law’ as much as a ‘family’ matter.

So, it is a great thing that in recent times, this issue has been raised in a manner that will shock people out of their misconceptions to see what domestic violence really is. It is not ‘miyan -biwi ke beech ki baat‘, but is actual violence where people, mostly women, get hurt and could die.

I would, however, prefer to see this dastardly crime for what it really is. A crime against women that ought to be penalized no matter what the ‘character’ of the victim is. Spare me this ‘shakti‘ and ‘bhakti‘ bullshit, Because we are tired of being goddesses, frankly.

( All Images courtesy taproot india)