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Posts Tagged ‘Sexual harrassment’

ashokbhatia

Gone are the days when Bollywood used to specialize in churning out only male-centric movies. There were times when our heroes used to be super humans with powers that even God would have hesitated to manifest. Our heroines were inevitably ‘cute’, irrational and dumb. Our families were massive piles of relatives dressed in garish clothes and living in ugly bungalows. Our idea of wooing a girl was dangerously close to molestation. Our assumptions regarding the IQ of our audiences were different. The movies catered mostly to the intelligence of an imagined front-bencher, and were inane, vulgar and obscene.

Cut to the present. The heroes are no longer diffident about shedding their macho image and reveal their softer side on the screen. The heroines have now become far more decisive and assertive. They resist amorous advances. They call the shots. They continue to be as beautiful as ever, but have become…

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Gone are the days when Bollywood used to specialize in churning out only male-centric movies. There were times when our heroes used to be super humans with powers that even God would have hesitated to manifest. Our heroines were inevitably ‘cute’, irrational and dumb. Our families were massive piles of relatives dressed in garish clothes and living in ugly bungalows. Our idea of wooing a girl was dangerously close to molestation. Our assumptions regarding the IQ of our audiences were different. The movies catered mostly to the intelligence of an imagined front-bencher, and were inane, vulgar and obscene.

Cut to the present. The heroes are no longer diffident about shedding their macho image and reveal their softer side on the screen. The heroines have now become far more decisive and assertive. They resist amorous advances. They call the shots. They continue to be as beautiful as ever, but have become far bolder.

Women have found their own voice in the movies, perhaps mirroring the kind of social changes in the offing. More and more female protagonists now sweep us off our feet not only by their chutzpah but also by their brains and brawn. The males are still around, but they often got relegated to the background. If they happen to be in the foreground, they happen to be in a supportive role. Or, they get teased, mocked at and hounded till the time they mend their corrupt and lecherous ways.

Some movies have even gone ahead and made us wonder if the members of the tribe of the so-called sterner sex are even necessary in the scheme of things. However, for the evolution of our species, a balanced approach is called for. A realization is to dawn that women are not objects of lust, violence and humiliation. They deserve all the respect and adoration that is rightfully due to them.

Rays of hope

Here are some Bollywood offerings in the recent past which have had women-centric scripts and have also done well commercially. Most of these have depicted strong females, real or imaginary, who have carried the narrative on their strong shoulders and turned the tables on the so-called sterner sex.

Jalpari

(The Mermaid, 2012, Nilab Madhab Panda)

jalpari

A delightful movie which makes an effective comment on the issue of female foeticide.

Kahaani

(The Story, 2012, Sujoy Ghosh)

kahaani

A courageous widow who tries to unravel the mystery behind the unfortunate death of her husband in a poison gas attack on the Kolkatta metro.

Gulaab Gang

(The Pink Brigade, 2014, Soumik Sen)

gulab_gang

Here is a gang of women activists and vigilantes who take up issues like domestic violence, the dowry system, rape, civic service deficiencies, and female education.

Queen

(2014, Vikas Bahl)

Print

When her fiancé calls off their wedding, the heroine decides to register a protest by proceeding on a mono-honeymoon trip, savouring life on her own.

Lakshmi

(2014, Nagesh Kukunoor)

lakshmi-movie

A girl is kidnapped and sold into prostitution. Assisted by a lawyer, she faces violent threats, coercion and bribes, stands up in court and in a landmark case in India, succeeds in putting the traffickers behind bars.

Mary Kom

(2014, Omung Kumar)

marykom

A biographical sports film which depicted the famous Indian boxer’s ascendance to fame. The heroine pursues her passion even while she discharges her family responsibilities with the support of her husband.

Mardaani

(The Masculine One, 2014, Pradeep Sarkar)

mardaani

A policewoman takes personal interest in the case of a kidnapped teenage girl and ends up busting a gang specializing in human trafficking in India.

Parched

(2015, Leena Yadav)

parched

The movie captured various evils of the society – deep-seated attitudes of patriarchy, child marriage, dowry, marital rapes and physical and mental abuse of women.

Jai Gangaajal

(Hail the water of the Ganges, 2016, Prakash Jha)

jai_gangaajal_poster

A newly appointed police officer stands up to her seniors and attempts to end the reign of corruption, terror and anarchy in the area under her charge.

Pink

(2016, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury)

pink

Built around an incident of molestation and attempted rape, the movie highlighted the regressive attitudes towards women who dress ‘inappropriately’ and attend parties, thereby being considered fair game. A “NO” may come from any woman – a girlfriend a sex-worker, or even one’s wife – and needs to be respected as such.

Neerja

(2016, Ram Madhvani)

neerja

A courageous flight head purser stands up against the vicious hijackers of a plane. She helps to save 359 of the 379 passengers and crew on board but gets killed in the process. Based on a true incident, wherein the woman received Ashok Chakra posthumously, the highest civilian honour in India.

Nil Battey Sannata

(Good for nothing, 2016, Ashwini Iyer Tiwari)

nil_battey_sannata

An uneducated household maid and single mother of a young girl sets out to ensure that her daughter dreams big and changes her lot in life.

Ki and Ka

(She and He, 2016, R Balki)

ki_and_ka

A delectable tale of role reversal of genders in a marriage, where the wife becomes the bread-winner and the husband takes care of the household.

Dangal

(The Wrestling Competition, 2016, Nitesh Tiwari)

dangal_poster

A real-life father braves opposition from the society to train his daughters to become star wrestlers, who go on to win international recognition. 

Blast from the past

This is not to say that Bollywood has not come up with women-centric movies in the past. Here are some which readily spring to one’s mind.

Hunterwali (1935, Homi Wadia)

nadia-hunterwali

Mother India (1957, Mehboob Khan)

Movie Mother_India

Bandini (1963, Bimal Roy)

Dark Bandini

Khamoshi (1969, Asit Sen)

khamoshi

Insaaf Ka Tarazu (1976, B R Chopra)

insaaf_ka_tarazu

Bhumika (1977, Shyam Benegal)

bhumika

Arth (1982, Mahesh Bhatt)

arth

Mirch Masala (1987, Ketan Mehta)

mirch_masala

Aastha (1997, Basu Bhattacharya)

aastha_-_in_the_prison_of_spring

Godmother (1999, Vinay Shukla)

godmother

Astitva (2000, Mahesh Manjrekar)

astitva

Lajja (2001, Rajkumar Santoshi)

lajja

Then and now

The difference is that women in earlier movies were mostly the sacrificing, the weepy and the self-pitying kind. They would take matters in their own hands but only when driven against a wall. Now, they come into their own out of sheer free will, revealing the inner strength they possess.

However, the fight against a deeply entrenched patriarchical mindset is far from being over. What we see today are mere green shoots, that too on the silver screen, which are confined to the metrosexual male. Movies directed at upwardly mobile urban youth alone mirror the new set of values. Centuries of social hierarchy has conditioned male minds to accept only certain conservative patterns of behaviour and dress for women. A person who deviates, dresses differently and goes partying is seen as fair game.

Creativity, Commerciality and Social Challenges

Creativity innovates. Commerciality exploits. For good cinema to flourish, a culturally vibrant social environment is necessary. If fine arts are better understood and appreciated, if there is a solid rooting in humanities and social sciences, imaginative and responsible movie makers would surely come up with meaningful entertainment which nurtures the soul while giving pleasure.

The intrinsic purpose of movies is commercial. However, if the message being conveyed also helps the society to correct itself, there is a real value-add which needs to be lauded. Producers and directors who come up with such creative offerings deserve all the admiration and adulation they richly deserve.

Needed: Different shades of chivalry

Indian males really need to reboot themselves for the 21st century. They could learn a lot about the art of chivalry from such heroes as Ashok (Anupama, 1966, Hrishikesh Mukherjee) and Arun (Chhoti Si Baat, 1975, Basu Chatterjee). This change can only start at the dining table and in the kitchen, within the confines of a home.

Parents of those who indulged in ‘mass molestation’ in a premier metro of India recently need to seriously introspect and start grooming their wards to practice different shades of chivalry in the days to come.

Bertie Wooster would surely approve. So would the likes of Honoria Glossop and Florence Craye.

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/women-through-the-bollywood-lens-part-1

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/women-through-the-bollywood-lens-part-2-of-2

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/different-shades-of-women-in-plumsville)

 

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What do Reka Maximovitch, Araceli Roiz and Lisa Rundle have in common? Well, their hormones broke through the glass ceilings of the rigid hierarchies of their respective employers. All of them had affairs with their high and mighty bosses and ended up filing sexual harassment cases against them. I am convinced that besides harassment, they also underwent the trauma of lewd comments and ridicule at the hands of their peers and subordinates. One can readily imagine the mental anguish suffered by them in the process.

Sexual harassment cases in companies are notorious for being immoral as well as immortal. Penguin Canada ex-CEO David Dravidar eventually went in for an out-of-court settlement. So did Phaneesh Murthy a decade back when he quit Infosys. The fact that he was recently back in the news for the wrong reasons, with i-GATE handing him a pink slip so as to minimize damages, goes on to show that old habits die hard.

Sexual-predator seniors and victim-subordinates often live off each other. As long as managements have a tolerant attitude on issues of sexual harassment at work place, skirt-groping CEOs and seniors with irrepressible libidos would conveniently continue to forget keeping their trousers zipped.

CEOs who are power drunk could indulge in this. So could those who are over-stressed and find such affairs an easy way to relax and unwind. Then there are the incorrigible ones who could not stay out of trouble. Whatever the justification, affairs of such nature lower the self-esteem of employees as well as the employers. These also corrupt the working eco-system, thereby impacting business results in the long run.

Some career-wise ambitious PYTs who do not mind petty flirtation in return for rapid advances in career could reach a tipping point after which it becomes difficult for them to apply brakes on the relationship. They then end up keeping the boss’ amorous treadmills running.

Managements which keep their eye only on the performance of their CEOs and tend to look the other way when it comes to issues of moral turpitude also create an enabling environment for immoral activities to flourish. They could also use a sexual harassment case to ease out a senior who has become too big for his boots.

What is it that managements can do without appearing to be intruding into the privacy of an individual? Having women in senior positions in the organization surely helps. Creating an atmosphere where developments of an amorous nature get reported and promptly acted upon is another anti-dote. The best deterrent is a clear and unambiguous message that sexcapades of any kinds are just not acceptable, irrespective of the level or importance of the persons involved.

Physical attraction and lust easily pass for love in the confined office space. And an affair of such nature easily turns into litigation. Once the mutual needs are no longer congruent, hot babes in offices, whether blonde or otherwise, could easily file lawsuits in countries where laws take a dim view of such conduct and courts award millions of greenbacks as compensation.

To save unnecessary costs as also to avoid a severe dent in their market image, managements need to understand that if they lock up a bunch of smart people in a room and not expect them to react to each other, they live in a fools’ paradise. After all, if left unchecked, human hormones are powerful enough to demolish a hierarchy!

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