Objectification of Women in Indian Cinema

The irony in an independent, educated young woman asserting her freedom and right to wear what she pleases and sing along and dance to whichever item song she wants, cannot be missed. In this post, I will outline the objectification of women in Bollywood dance numbers as analyzed and discussed by Ms. Deebanjana Pal, at the "Gender in Cinema: Gendering Film Screens" workshop I attended this semester.

Ms. Pal presented her talk with the help of 4 clips from Indian movies from different time periods. Using these, she criticized notions about women even as they evolved. She also explored the sexuality of leading ladies in these films, in terms of overtly sexy behavior.

The first clip she showed us was Dimple Kapadia's infamous sarong scene in Bobby. Ms Kapadia's striptease there was a demonstration of the constant scrutiny femalekind are subject to: The heroine in that clip is shown to be unaware of being watched. She has no idea abut the creepy man in the background making a great show of trying not to watch. Yet her performance is so elaborate, and conveys such innate sexuality, as though women, by themselves, are sexual beings - accidental temptresses, virtuously sexy.

The second clip was the sweet kiss scene from Band Baaja Baarat where Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma are drunk and Ranveer Singh kisses Anushka Sharma and then hesitates, but Anushka Sharma kisses him back. Prior to this moment, Anushka Sharma is sloshed and basically sleeping on Ranveer Singh's shoulder. She is fully clothed. She is not sexy-dancing. There is consent and initiative and a two-sided power play in this clip. 

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