Thappad to Pink, no amount of films raising awareness on sexual harassment or rape can hide Bollywood’s hypocrisy when it comes to gender. Devi, a multi-starrer with Kajol as the prominent face, released in March has got lakhs of views on YouTube. The 13-minute short delivered a hard-hitting story about rape survivors.
But then it all went downhill when Kajol gave an interview to Anupama Chopra on Film Companion this weekend.
Kajol said, “Women who cry and scream about something which is not as gruesome as rape lose their credibility as women”. She went on to add “trivialities” makes things difficult for “true survivors”. All of this while she was discussing her 13-minute short film on rape and sexual assault survivors. Irony died a slow death.
Sexual assault cannot be defined on a rating scale. No one should define who is a “true survivor”. Every woman who decides to “scream or cry” about their sexual abuse has to overcome many barriers of social stigma, safety and career issues before they can even speak or whisper. It looks as if the #MeToo movement taught the Bollywood film industry nothing.
There are many stories of abusers easily carrying on with their lives while women faced harassment and were slut-shamed. Singer Chinmayi Sripada, who accused lyricist Vairamuthu of sexual harassment, was out of work for many days.
Even an unwanted touch or gesture in a crowded metro or bus can make a woman feel numb and helpless. Being a woman herself, Kajol should’ve realised that.
But Kajol isn’t the only Bollywood actress who hasn’t bothered to keep up with the times or read up.
Last year, another actor from her generation had made similarly regressive remarks. During the actress’ round table with Rajeev Masand, Rani Mukerji had said that the onus to save oneself from sexual harassment is on women. They should fight back, hit back and men won’t bother anymore, was Mukerji’s opinion. Thankfully other women at the interview, Deepika Padukone to Alia Bhatt, not only visibly cringed but also spoke back.
Devis and trivialities
Kajol and Rani Mukerji sound like those relatives in your family who blame women for the harassment they face while also saying they really respect women and that women are ‘devis’.
It all comes down to how hypocritical the film industry is. Bollywood objectifies women, gives them almost no clothes to dance in a song, romanticises stalking and teasing. In Bollywood, na still means haan (Tamasha, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Kabir Singh)
During the interview, Kajol says that the subject of film Devi was “something that she definitely believes in”. She has destroyed it with her ‘trivialities’.
Views are personal.