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22 April 2024

Delhi gang-rape impact: Kareena Kapoor leads Bollywood no to 'item' numbers

By Sneha May Francis and Bindu Suresh Rai

Kareena Kapoor poses as she attends the ‘People’s Choice Awards’ ceremony. (AFP)

First it was Ayesha Takia, then Neha Dhupia. And now, Kareena Kapoor.

These B-town beauties have reportedly announced their decision not to do item numbers.
The brash, suggestive dance tracks, that not only rake in the moolah but also work as a great career boaster for actresses is suddenly being frowned upon.

And this is the aftermath of the recent gruesome event that lead to the gang-rape of a 23-year-old Delhi student, and later her death.
The Indian film industry came under the scanner, with many accusing it of objectifying women, and in a way wrongly influencing the commoners.

Ayesha Takia at the launch of TV show Sur Kshetra. (SUPPLIED)

Ayesha Takia, who has taken a sabbatical post her marriage, insists she won’t accept any raunchy dance tracks ever. “I’ll never ever do item numbers and neither have I ever done one,” she told Indian media.
While her other peers, Neha Dhupia and Kareena Kapoor, might have cited date problems and marriage as their reason to step out, many industry insiders believe that the “girls are making a conscious effort to make a decent make-over”.
Neha had earlier done item numbers in movies ‘Nehlle Pe Dehlla’, ‘HeyyBaby’ and ‘De Dana Dan’.

And, Kareena in ‘Ra.One’, ‘Heroine’ and ‘Dabangg2’.

So, could this mean the end of the item girls?
“No. It won't be the end of item numbers. Besides item numbers per se are not the problem,” explains ‘Talaash’ director Reema Kagti.

Agrees noted filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt. “I don’t think one should succumb to this kind of moral policing. And one should know that our films are being censored before its release.”

Bollywood actress Ameesha Patel during the press conference of 'Race 2' in Dubai. (Ashok Verma)
During the promotional event for ‘Race 2’ in Dubai last week, actress Ameesha Patel faced the brunt of media queries for saying that the action-thriller is “racier and steamier than its predecessor”.
Some would term the statement was a tad insensitive in light of the Delhi case.

However, Patel was quick to shoot down such a sentiment, stating: “By this argument, if cinema has had a negative influence on its audience, then surely, the flipside is also true and it can have a positive change too.
“Stealing, using drugs and rape, this is not cinematic influence but a person’s mindset.”

When asked outright, Patel, who did an item song in a bikini for ‘Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic’ said she would happily sign on for one if it was tastefully done.

Deepika Padukone during the 19th annual Colors Screen Awards in Mumbai. (AFP)
Actress Deepika Padukone didn't disagree either, saying: “You can’t blame cinema for flaws in society.”

Criticising the Indian government, the feisty actress continued to say: “Laws in our country need to be stricter and action needs to be taken. This people who commit the crimes think they can get away with it in our country and that's what needs to be changed.”
Actor Saif Ali Khan, whose wife Kareena Kapoor has faced a lot of flak of late for gyrating on screen to the lyrics of ‘Halkat Jawani’ that croons ‘why desire me with just your eyes, when you can touch’, also jumped into the controversy to say:  “Violence on screen is sensitised. I won’t say it isn’t worrisome that some college kids laugh at violent scenes but targeting cinema is wrong when games such as ‘Grand Theft Auto’ or any such shooter games are way more gruesome.”
However, ‘Mission Impossible 4’ star, Anil Kapoor, father to actress Sonam Kapoor who is allegedly donning a bikini in her forthcoming film, was quite vocal in the social responsibility that comes with being a public figure.
Without commenting on ‘item songs’ in particular, he stated: “As actors I feel that we do have some responsibilities towards our audience.

“When I was younger, I had the privilege to interact with one of India’s finest actors and filmmakers, Mr Raj Kapoor, who told me that while films can entertain, they can also carry a moral message.”
Incidentally, Kapoor, during his heydays in the industry, faced a lot of criticism for his portrayal of actresses in films such as ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’, ‘Mera Naam Joker’ and ‘Ram Teri Ganga Maili’ and even being accused of promoting partial nudity in cinema.
These criticisms have polarized the industry into taking a strong stand against the way women are being portrayed in Indian films.

“I think misrepresentation is the problem not over-sexualisation. Our films put out the wrong idea about women, it comes from not understanding them,” explains Reema Kagti.

“I hope the reaction we are seeing from filmmakers is stemming from them realising we play a huge role in propagating unhealthy gender politics. At the end of the day films shape culture and society and most of our films are extremely misogynist.”


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