First, it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who wanted to clean up India with his Swachh Bharat Abhiyan campaign. Now, it is Raveena Tandon who wants to make Bollywood ‘swachh’ by cleaning out all the stars who might smoke weed or indulge in other intoxicants. The Narcotics Control Bureau sent summons to four Bollywood actors, including Deepika Padukone and Sara Ali Khan, in a drug case related to the use of narcotics in Bollywood after Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, responding to widespread calls from people like Arnab Goswami and Kangana Ranaut to expose the ‘nasha gang’ of Bollywood. What Raveena Tandon should instead be focusing on is weeding out songs like ‘Tu cheez badi mast mast’ or Kareena Kapoor’s Fevicol song.
If the word ‘Nasha’ is so dirty, will there also be a ‘beep’ every time the word is uttered in a movie? And what will Bollywood villains do now if they can’t be shown as drug addicts? What will the authorities go after next? Alcohol? If Raveena Tandon really needs a purpose, she should head the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), and do a 21st-century moral policing of our movies.
The ‘righteous’ uproar against Bollywood’s alleged drug use has been recently fuelled by actor Kangana Ranaut’s claims about Deepika Padukone’s depression being a “consequence”of drug misuse.
To add to this proverbial firing at the industry, Raveena Tandon, too, decided to share her two cents on the issue.
Twas high time for clean up to happen.Very welcome!Will help our young/future generations.Start from here,surely,proceed to all sectors.Uproot it from its core.Punish th Guilty,users,the dealers/suppliers.The profiting Big Guys on the take,who give it a blind eye and ruin people.
— Raveena Tandon (@TandonRaveena) September 22, 2020
Raveena’s declaration for the urgent need of Bollywood’s to ‘clean up’ is fair — drugs are a menace and can lead the youth of the country astray. But why now Raveena? And why after 59 grams of cannabis? And where will this leave Bollywood?
Bollywood’s nashe-wale songs
‘Ankh surme naa’ laddi hoi naar di, khinch khinch ke nishane sidhe maardi,’ goes the popular lyrics of the hit song Illegal Weapon from the 2020 movie Street Dancer 3D. The song also coincidentally features Shraddha Kapoor, whose name has also popped up in the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) investigation of the alleged ‘Bollywood drug nexus’. The lyrics refer to a kohl-eyed girl who uses intoxicants, to put it simply. ‘Nasha’, the Hindi term for intoxication, is free-flowing in the lyrics of most Bollywood songs.
The 1992 film Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar’s hit song ‘Pehla Nasha’ was a tune that almost every 90s kid dedicated their first love/heartbreak to. Then there was Ranveer Singh crooning to ‘Nashe si chadh gayi’ from Befikre (2016). And who can forget our very own Indian hip-hop star Honey Singh bursting onto the scene with ‘Dope Shope’ in 2011?
Bollywood and intoxication
Drugs and Bollywood have a long-standing relationship, but on screen. What happens in the personal lives of actors, I neither wish to comment upon nor ‘investigate’, because there are several top agencies already leading the charge.
If we simply look at the last two decades, films such as Page 3 (2005), Fashion (2008), Dev D (2009), Dum Maaro Dum (2011), Fukrey (2013), Go Goa Gone (2013), Udta Punjab (2016), Sanju (2018) have all dealt with the issue of drugs.
Even before that, nearly every Hindi film villain was portrayed as being involved in ‘drugs and women’, the two being considered equally potent somehow.
Interestingly enough, our very own ‘crusader’ against drug abuse, Kangana Ranaut’s home state of Himachal Pradesh has been considering legalising the cultivation of cannabis.
What goes on screen definitely has an impact on the audience, but the impact of ‘leaked’ personal chats about cannabis consumption seems rather dubious. In fact, what needs real change might actually be our concept of consent and privacy, which in the recent investigation of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death was blown to smithereens.
Reform Bollywood actually needs
What needs real ‘cleaning up’ in Bollywood and in India, dear Raveena and Kangana, is the idea that depression or mental health are frivolous issues, or that misogyny sells. If we all took a break from the ‘ruckus’ around the 59 grams of cannabis, we might realise that the same NCB that is sending summons left, right and centre — pun intended — is also looking into the benefits of marijuana.
Bollywood actors are youth icons and must display model behaviour, but the fact is that without these sensationalised ‘leaked chats’, I would never have bothered to know whether or not Deepika smokes up, or whether Shraddha Kapoor buys CBD oil. What really do come into my day-to-day life are Bollywood films and songs that glorify a range of questionable behaviour, from misogyny, consent breaking, and patriarchal norms.
I wish what Raveena Tandon had asked for was ‘cleaning up’ the attitude with which people say ‘Tu Cheez badi hai mast mast’ to women in India, and the current ‘witch hunt’ against Bollywood actresses instead.
Views are personal.
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