Mumbai: The horrific December 16 Delhi gangrape case led to well-known film personalities taking to the streets in protest. However, it once again ignited the debate of whether the portrayal of women in Indian films and advertisements were also in a way contributing to such heinous acts.
Be it Vidya Balan in 'The Dirty Picture' or Katrina Kaif in 'Chikni Chameli', women from time immemorial have been portrayed as the object of desire in Indian films. While audiences whistled at old-time villain Ranjit raping women, portrayal of women as sex objects in music was also common. In 'Khalnayak', who didn't ogle at Madhuri Dixit's jhatkas in the song 'Choli ke peeche'?
There are some who allege such displays prompt men to exercise their might over women, harassing or stalking them. Sociologist Dipankar Gupta speaks of the song 'Jumma Chumma de de' from Amitabh Bachchan-starrer, 'Hum'. "It is a musically picturised gang rape," he says.
Not only films, recently we have seen advertisements too, like Cadbury's, where a woman is shown licking off a chocolate bar, or an advertisement for inner wear for men that tried to cash in on the sexuality of women.
Is it time to change the way women are portrayed? Actor Rahul Bose says it indeed is. "Item numbers are quite unnecessary in films, it really doesn't add much, and is derogatory to men and women. We should have a body that reviews what is showing women in a bad light," he says.
While movies may not lead to rape directly, the explicitness of some of the content does impact the minds of people. Films are a reflection of the times we live in, and today, it is Bollywood's duty to display social responsibility.