Why such a fuss over “laundiya”?
Months after the release of Dabangg 2, a tehsildar complains to the National Commission for Women about some words in one of the songs and the commission shoots off a notice to the film’s producer Arbaaz Khan. The song has been heard over and over again and people have been dancing to the tune at functions for some time now. Some knowledgeable people have been quoted as saying that the word “laundiya” is of Persian origin and is found in the local dialect in parts of Uttar Pradesh. But has any woman complained? And are not the singer and dancer females? The song is set in a north Indian location and is understandable. Do our people and the courts have so much time to actually register such cases, while corruption and crime remain invisible? The things some people will do for publicity, and some people in power will accept it too! Either the tehsildar wants to meet Salman and his family, or he wants to become a hero in the fight for women’s rights.
—Khurshedcheher J Lawyer,
No freedom to abuse
There is no freedom without limits. Unlimited freedom would lead to anarchy. Freedom implies that I have a right to disagree with the views expressed in the DNA, but the restraint I must exercise is not to hurl invectives at the editor. However, I feel that over the past couple of weeks the DNA is advocating unlimited, unrestrained freedom, as in the case of Salman Rushdie, who some felt hurt religious sentiments through his writings. On the matter of the NCW’s overreaction to the use of the word “laundiya”, it seems that some want to have their cake and eat it too. While stating that the use of the word is acceptable, the editorial also says that the portrayal of women in the movies needs to be addressed. I think that the NCW’s notice is legitimate and should not end there. The issue is not about one word or one song, but the commodification of women. Our films revolve around predictable love themes. What has changed recently (for the worse) are the masala songs and atrocious sequences that have no relation to the story whatsoever. Freedom of expression cannot be abused.
—Yasir Khan, Delhi
What I cannot understand is why Bollywood does not use the power it possesses to influence people, to bring about a better society. The songs and dialogues use words like “‘laundiya” and “chikni chameli”, all derogatory labels, that average people get into the habit of using. Have you not heard college boys say: “Dekh! Item jaa rahi hai!” Bollywood is largely responsible for depicting women as weak and objects. It’s time they make good films that can change the mindset of people to start respecting women.
—Komal Naik, Mumbai
Bollywood’s double standards were visible during the Delhi gang-rape case. While many leading film personalities came out to express their shock and condemn the heinous attack on the young woman, hardly any of them said anything about the negative portrayal of women in films and serials. Numerous Bollywood films have shown the hero stalking the heroine until she gives in to his demands. The less said the better about the graphic picturisation of sex and even rape, to titillate the audience. While we should remain committed to the freedom of expression, we must not deny that such negative depiction of women is responsible for the rise in attacks on women in the country.
—Ketan R Meher, by email
The fatwa issued by the Grand Mufti against the all-girl band from Kashmir is a disturbing development that raises questions about the secular nature of our society. Even more worrying is the absolute silence of the Indian government on the episode in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, where fundamentalists have tried repeatedly to enforce Islamic laws. It is strange that no fatwa is issued against Muslims in Bollywood who showcase despicable aspects of Western lifestyle in their films. So while we won freedom from foreign rule over six decades ago, we remain cultural slaves and prisoners of vote banks. Common citizens are constantly under pressure, subjugated to various forms of harassment, and the assaults on women is a major example of this. India is a secular, democratic republic where the freedom of expression must be protected at all costs.
—SG Mirajgaonkar, Pune
No temple agitation
It is unfortunate that the BJP president Rajnath Singh, minutes after taking a dip at the Mahakumbh, joined the VHP chorus for a Ram temple at Ayodhya. It seems that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad feels that the Bharatiya Janata Party is drifting away from the Hindutva agenda, and the party president was trying to allay this apprehension by visiting the congregation of sadhus convened by the VHP. In fact, speaking at the gathering, VHP president Ashok Singhal called for a fresh agitation on the temple issue. But the VHP and the BJP are wrong if they imagine that a temple would satisfy the crores of Hindus across the country. Most of us, even the devout Hindus, do not want another agitation that could cause more bloodshed on the issue. The country has other major problems that we must attend to.
—J Akshobhya, Mysore
Hole in the bucket
Apropos of “SC tells Sebi to freeze Sahara’s accounts”, the Sahara group with the connivance of the authorities, has exploited a loophole in the judicial system. The companies have not submitted the details of the investors till date. They now claim that the optionally fully convertible debentures were redeemed and only about Rs2,000 cr were to be returned, which is unbelievable. The companies have diverted the funds to overseas projects after Sebi initiated action, and it will be next to impossible to retrieve the money. This matter could be going the way of the Hasan Ali case, where the enforcement authority has nothing to seize from an “insolvent” against the tax claim. The law should provide for the assets to be frozen the moment “prima facie” is established, or the accused made to provide a bank guarantee till the case is finally disposed of.
—N Ramamurthy, Chennai