Bollywood is the second-largest film industry in the world, only surpassed by Hollywood. Hundreds of movies emanate from this vibrant industry every year. Like all creative art, the film is considered to be a representation of the society and people it portrays. In this regard, an outside would not be judged harshly if he surmised that Indian women are beautiful, but objects of men’s lusts.
Cleavage video goes viral
The Huffington Post recently reported on the case of an Indian actress whose cleavage video was compiled by the Times of India and released to the public. Angered by the heat that the video that went viral in social media generated, the popular actress retorted, “YES! I am a Woman. I have breasts AND a cleavage! You got a problem!!??” and “Don’t talk about Woman’s Empowerment when YOU don’t know how to RESPECT Women!” This last part was in response to critics who felt that this woman was betraying women’s empowerment.
A culture of sexual violence
This comes against a background of widespread anger for the manner in which women and girls are being subjected to sexual abuse by men. Those opposed to Bollywood’s perceived objectification of women blame it for the obsession that men have on women to the extent of raping them. One writer captures the mood of many in these words, “Beyond the realm of body parts, clothing choices, and sexuality, it is questionable as to whether Bollywood actresses, including Deepika, have done much to empower women with their body of on-screen work.”
Essentially, Bollywood is entrenching stereotypes that may be the cause (even if partially) of the proliferation of cases of rape and other forms of sexual abuse in India. Ruchika Tulshyan, writing in Forbes, makes this assertion:
If you’ve watched a Bollywood movie in the last five years, chances are you noticed perfectly-sculpted actresses, donning scanty outfits, not unlike ones you would find on Beyonce. Many famous movies feature women dancing suggestively to item songs.
She further observes that Bollywood movies are replete with scenes of brutality against women, and portrayal of sexual acts, issues that were taboo some years back.
Not a perfect representation of India
It is evident that much of what these movies portray is not entirely synonymous with the life of ordinary Indian people. However, the glorification and reverence of movie stars mean they can influence people to adopt movie lifestyles. This is where Bollywood is betraying women’s empowerment.