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Is Bollywood Really Ready To #SmashPatriarchy?

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Co-written by Deepika Singh

In the recent wake of the vilification and ‘witch hunt’ of Rhea Chakraborty by Indian media and the Indian public, many Bollywood celebrities have decided to speak up, echoing the anti-patriarchy slogan which read:

Roses are red, violets are blue. Crush the patriarchy, you and me.

The lines first appeared on Rhea’s t-shirt she wore when she went for questioning at the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in Mumbai on September 8. Soon after, the symbolic claim attached to it took social media by storm and people started talking about it. People who supported Rhea’s “witch hunt” began to attack feminism, based on a misconception of feminism, and criticized the actor more. Others began to applaud the actor for his confidence. Soon the lines began to resonate on social media.

Bollywood celebrities have also started sharing the tagline on their social media handles to support Rhea. #SmashPatriarchy started trending on Twitter as a fiery signifier of solidarity, which was really crucial, leaving aside the political-electoral veneer made around the whole issue.

However, beneath the echoes, there is an important question that we must ask ourselves as well as Bollywood: What does this really mean?

Should we consider this Bollywood appeal as an authentic appeal?

Will this change the patriarchal and deeply masculinist themes with which Bollywood has often comfortably engaged and sometimes approved through films?

Bollywood, which in itself expresses the most patriarchal, casteist, racist, homophobic and Islamophobic feelings, in various ways, be it its composition, its production and its promotions, how does it seek to stand firm on whim to smash the patriarchy overnight, what assurances, measures and measures does it speak or provide, calling for an overwhelming patriarchy?

Doesn’t he need to look inward first?

How would he ensure that the call to “break the patriarchy” does not come down to empty, nonsubstantial slogans, as it will be self-destructive for the cause of feminism?

Roses are red, violets are blue;
When the role of the woman was vilified, Bollywood, where were you?

While Bollywood is not a homogeneous entity and there may be different voices and counter-voices, however, it won’t be wrong to infer that overall Bollywood addresses the larger structure in which society is fixed, which happens to be that of patriarchy and therefore, Bollywood has always been status quo by lending itself to being used as another apparatus of the state one of its propaganda mechanisms which helps to maintain social hierarchies and political, social and economic power structures.

Rather than questioning social and cultural prejudices, Bollywood not only feeds on these prejudices and reinforces them in society, but also played an exceptional role in their generation. Whether it is the popular portrayal of love as oppressive, causing suffering for women, or as portraying women in the wrong light or portraying love as manipulation, a violation of consent and a violation of a woman’s space, the media stalking of Rhea should be seen as an extension in the same way, as Bollywood has been comfortable endorsing such a theme through its films for a very long time.

So when people associated with Bollywood support the call to break patriarchy, condemn the media’s violation of a woman’s private space, they have to pause and think to ask how many movies have they produced, performed, sung for or played in, for which the cast was paid equal amounts or in what violation of the private space of the female protagonist or character has not been normalized or justified?

When people associated with Bollywood support the call to break patriarchy, condemn the media’s violation of a woman’s private space, they must pause and think to ask how many films have they produced, directed, sung or performed, for which the the casting was paid equally or in what violation of the private space of the female protagonist or character was not normalized or justified?

At this point, it will be helpful to remember that Rhea’s slander didn’t start with media harassment alone. It started before that, when social media collapsed with insults and buying the “Rhea is a witch who did black magic on Sushant. ”

Did the Bollywood theme refrain from this label vis-à-vis the female characters in the films?

Bollywood has not rallied to call women “witches “,” chudail “,” daayanAnd what not, in the films produced in this way?

So when Bollywood calls for breaking the patriarchy, let us also remember that kind of vocabulary has not yet left Bollywood.

Bollywood, microcosm of society or engine of social change?

If the Indian state is said to have been oppressive towards certain strata of the population, especially women, doesn’t Bollywood imitate the same structures by acting as a microcosm of the state at times, and from patriarchal society to others?

There have been instances where Bollywood celebrities have gone so far as to support their colleagues when called upon to make deeply problematic films. When movies like Kabir Singh | are valued toxic masculinity and respect for patriarchal norms, we hardly saw any Bollywood celebrity oppose it. Bollywood celebrities are perfectly fine with movies like Tanhaji, Bahubali, who brazenly display caste pride, not to mention the public who are all applauded at such a display.

The systematic oppression of Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and Kashmiris hardly attracts the attention of Bollywood, but is used when the propaganda policy needs a high standard. Recently, a student and academic activist Safoora Zargar endured harsher media trials and was witch-hunted and vilified by media and people in an equally if not more cruel light; she was forced into receiving all manner of sexist and misogynistic comments, but she did not see Bollywood awaken to call to break patriarchy. There are so many similar examples, involving people in the Bollywood industry themselves being let down by the same industry, when it let the patriarchy break the efforts and the will of some brave people.

The systematic oppression of Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and Kashmiris hardly attracts the attention of Bollywood, but is used when the propaganda policy needs a high standard. Recently, student activist and scholar Safoora Zargar suffered harsher media trials and was witch-hunted and vilified by the media and people in an equally if not more cruel light; she was forced into receiving all manner of sexist and misogynistic comments, but she did not see Bollywood awaken to call to break patriarchy.

On the flip side, many Bollywood celebrities have not only been comfortable but are also proud of their caste lineages and wear their casteist and Brahmin mentality on their sleeves. Sonam kapoor, who can also be seen speaking out against Rhea’s witch-hunt, which recently openly displayed the casteist values ​​of Karma A system which believes that people enter their lives based on past life karma, which in some way can be used to justify oppressive social hierarchies.

Feminism’s call to shatter patriarchy is not exclusive of the call to shatter all structures of inequality, given intersectionality and therefore, now is the right time to also question how the Dalit-Bahujan-Adivasis are represented in the films and also their literal. representation in the Bollywood industry.

Also read: The SSR case shows how the media denies mental health problems by …

Last but not least, Bollywood’s portrayal of female characters is deeply patriarchal. Women’s bodies are sexually objectified through highly sexist songs, justifying the masculine gaze, promoting a culture of stalking, extending further into a culture of rape in the already patriarchal society.

Is Bollywood ready to break such thematic oppression through the prism of cinema, once and for all?

While many would say that Bollywood is just a reflection of society, we must remember that it is also a trendsetter, a normalization mechanism and a vehicle for social change, which has the big screen to impact people. generations together, at once. Therefore, is hold Bollywood accountable by asking it to be responsible in its themes and its production, too? Will Bollywood deny the influence it exerts on the minds of the masses? If he accepts his power of influence, then there should be no denial in how to use the mechanism of influence in a more responsible manner.

Afterword: a letter

Dear Bollywood,

When you talk about breaking the patriarchy, you need to consider all of these factors and assess your role accordingly. You have the responsibility to fight patriarchy, casteism, racism, communitarianism in your films on a parallel basis.

Instead of just using those social justice terms which sooner or later are reduced to empty slogans as soon as you return to your orthodoxically safe spaces after the episode ends, your fight against social injustice has to be more real. , more significant, more substantial.

We hope this time that the slogan does not support the cause of feminism in Bollywood, for which feminists have struggled and fought for so long.

With love

Of
The granddaughters of the witches that you couldn’t burnEven through the cinematic representations and pottery of your blockbuster films.

Also read: Sushant Singh Rajput and the justice promised by the media tribunal


The authors are currently continuing their research at JNU.

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