No no no, Vidya balan has nothing to do with this column or the views personally. Her association with this post is purely on the basis of her job as an actress. Her latest movie only reinforced my age-old beliefs that the film industry is not the right business for women to be in (the other is the armed forces). I was quite rightly embarrassed by our actors/ actresses doing what they did for the whole world to see. I wondered as to how a man and woman could touch each other with love and without (witness all those nightmarish rape scenes) in front of the film making crew and then put out their work for the world to see. It was something I could never understand. Then over the years, I thought it’s a job like any other. Maybe it’s not so hard after all; that the person playing the lothario, or the prostitute or the villain or the vamp with a thigh-high slit is definitely not like that in real life, maybe it is easy to alienate yourself from the role and people’s perception and go on living a normal life (I don’t believe this one bit though)
Then came cable TV and numerous shows (even news channels started actors like they sat in Lok Sabha). The actors started losing their exclusivity bit by bit by giving interviews, participating as judges in competitive shows, or even in programs where the camera followed them wherever they went and thus the ‘star’ became human or even ordinary with the same values as you and I, the same ethics and moral code that we live by. The film industry that I thought of as debauched, rampant with casting couches and leery personalities suddenly became like a garden when I could go for a breath of fresh air. I mean if hotties like Bipasha Basu, Vidya Balan, Mallika Sherawat, Mallika Arora can blossom in this rough industry then it must be a nice place. If they say that there is no casting couch and that the couch exists everywhere (it is solely our choice to decide to park in the couch on our way to good roles) even in the corporate world then yeah it must be true. Surprisingly men are more realistic when they admit to sexual favours being a very ‘there’ form of currency that you exchange for favours that range from roles to party invites…that proverbial foot in the door. I guess it is easier for men to admit to this than women (exactly like the way they admit so freely to losing their virginity at 15 or any other age…have you noticed that all ‘admittors’ of ‘virginity losing’ stories are men).
So I was saying how actors are shooting their mouths off on every channel about how the industry is a nice place, their constant talking is making the film industry almost sound like something I might want to cuddle up with on a cold winter night! Then I saw trailors of The Dirty Picture (not even the whole movie) and my innocent visions came crashing down violently. First and foremost, let me commend Vidya for her courage in taking up this role. Then let me also do an about turn and say that I will not let my daughter do such a role. Even if it’s a role, I do not want my own flesh and blood to be on the posters that are really dirty and violate your most intimate space (read- Vidya Balan looking on with the faces of three men being shown at three vantage points of her body- namely her breast, neck and shoulder). I hope this poster/ photo was not shot and that it was put together by morphing pictures. Even for art’s sake, the very thought of doing a movie like dirty picture where my daughter goes through all these motions is unbearable for me. Yup it’s just art but what the audience is doing in the theatres while watching the films and taking home Vidya in the their minds do all sorts of things is not what I want my little baby (let me clarify by saying that ‘my baby’ refers here to my daughter. The clarification is necessary due to over sexualisation of the word ‘baby’).
I do not want my daughter to go up there and pander to the male ego and fantasies even if it’s in a movie. And who says its confined to just the reel world? Fantasies start where the film ends. I have the ‘third eye’. It’s way different than that of Lord Shiva’s in that it cannot burn down entities; though how I wish I could those men who mentally strip women and worse you can see it in their eyes. The third eye tells me if the man’s gaze is just that or it is ‘laced’, ‘spiked’, ‘lustful’ and more than just a gaze. It tells me to avoid such men and if I cannot then alter my behaviour in a manner that will make him scoot. But I cannot do this in a profession where I am a ‘man magnet’, where I need to look good, wear revealing clothes (or risk being labelled boring) and also wear dizzy stilettos and shake a leg or two. No sir, Films is no good for a girl. As a mother I get slapped both ways and so does my daughter. Sample this- if I were to accompany my daughter to shoots, I get labelled as the dominating mummy and my daughter gets labelled as ‘being dominated by mummy’ , as incapable of taking her own decisions. So how does this work? Do I let my little one go out there in the world of wolves all alone? Don’t be daft and compare this world to any other, say IT for example. Don’t believe it when the actors say that the couch is everywhere and that it is a matter of choice whether you give in or not. I say these actors are just protecting their names and their turf. Men might be men everywhere, but the proximity and opportunity has just multiplied 1000 times more in films then say in the automotive industry or IT or publishing or research.
All in all I might be sounding just the opposite of the feminist in me. But Films is not a suitable profession for women. Maybe the TV industry where the (god alone knows why or how) all women are clad in the way normal people are (discount the heavy jewellery and silk sarees). Oh okay not normal really, but at least they are fully clothed just like the men. And to end this, have I said that films stars (particularly actresses) are 10000% deserving of their remuneration (allegedly in crores) for all the risks they take and the courage they need to be in such dangerous profession?