Trigger Warning: sexual assault and child sexual abuse


The latest Remi(ss), as my young nephew calls it, of Ek Do Teen has been doing the rounds of social media, making our eyes and ears uncomfortable. It prompted me to re-watch Sheila ki Jawani, Kamli, Chikni Chameli, Laila main Laila or even the tame Raabta title song (where four backup male dancers basically fondle Deepika Padukone on her upper thighs, shudder).

This sure fire pattern of a lone woman dancing for a horde of men has worked before and since Jumma Chumma, which by the way is totally a consent violation song. She says repeatedly “Chumma na de“, “Maine badal diya irada“, while Amitabh and his cronies (a few hundred of them) hose her down, strip her clothes and finally help him obtain the kiss forcefully. Does this remind anyone else of gang molestation? No? Just me squirming then?

For a woman, the crowds become dangerous places of fondling, pinching, and outright molestation. 

Why is this gang fantasy so popular? And how early are we ingraining it in our boys? The young kids in my building play cricket and generally scream bloody murder every evening in the parking lot. They are all boys. Either there are no girl children in the building (hello skewed sex ratio!), or they simply don’t fit into the rowdy games of cricket with trade-offs of batting order based on who owns the bat.

The boy gangs form early. I’ve run into these when I used to work in villages of Haryana. 9 year olds would snigger and nudge each other as we (doctors) walked by. Ganesh pandals, melas, trains, even protests, are heavily dominated by men, who seem to become an ocean wave and move as one. For a woman, the crowds become dangerous places of fondling, pinching, and outright molestation. 

I was 10 when a group of men jostled me from all directions in a vegetable market and someone pinched me. Two ‘someones’ pinched me. I never knew who did it. Is the male of the species wired to function in a pack in sexual pursuit? Learn to form gangs early, learn to be confident enough to leer, learn to be unfeeling enough to molest, or worse, rape someone?

Most of these item songs are placed for voyeuristic marketing.

Are all the men in item songs fetishizing this behaviour? Fondling and just getting near enough to the “item”, does it add to the enjoyment if it’s a gang? The choreography of such songs leaves me baffled. At least in the original Ek Do Teen, the story itself was based on the fact that Mohini was made to dance for men and wasn’t keen on it. 

What do the current films use as an excuse to follow that model? There’s no connection to the script. Most of these are placed for voyeuristic marketing. Yet the hordes of men seem to somehow be inseparable from the choreography of these songs. Looks like we’ll be resigning ourselves to leaving our brains at home if we want to enjoy anything made by Bollywood ever.

Also read: How Does Feminism Deal With Bollywood Item Girls?


Featured Image Source: Ek Do Teen via Indiaglitz.com

2 COMMENTS

  1. That’s a brilliant article. While I totally agree that item songs are simply placed in the movies irrelevant to the plot, to gain “sex” points. However, I think the use of men surrounding women to in these item songs is simply to enhance the point that “this” woman is desired by hoards of men. Which is simply to make her more attractive as an object. Granted that that is not acceptable. I believe that does not amount to promoting gang rape culture.

  2. @ anagh, there is a very important aspect of ‘rape culture’ that people fail to understand. When you have an ‘item song’, which feature lyrics objectifying and/or sexualizing and/or sexually praising the ‘female body’, where the ‘sexy’-ly dressed female dances in a big crowd of men (who are usually a bit drunk)- it doesn’t really matter what the intention of the director is. What is the ‘effect’? So perhaps the director has no intention to promote ‘gang rape culture’, but the effect of the video does not depend on what the director’s intention is.

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