The Breakthrough Voice 2nd January, 2019

How Has Bollywood Dealt With Workplace Sexual Harassment?.

With the expansion and outreach of the #MeToo movement, discussions and deliberations regarding stagnant evils are necessary. Sexual harassment, as well as the objectification of women, has been an age-old practice – all the more encouraged by movies. We have been viewers of different genres of movies in which sexual harassment at the workplace is reflected clearly and thus it’s prevalence has increased manifold.

There are numerous incidents which go unreported, and society has not fallen short of adopting Bollywood culture that is watched across the country. Let’s discuss in detail a couple of movies which have had an impact on society in terms of sexual harassment at the workplace.

Aitraaz is one of the movies which has portrayed sexual harassment at the workplace as an advantage taken by women to threaten their colleague’s position or as an act of revenge by falsely accusing a man. Such a direction of the story has instead instigated a chauvinistic attitude in the workplace and encourages inappropriate and discriminatory behaviour, as action is seldom taken in such cases. Movies like Aitraaz accelerate insensitivity towards workplace sexual harassment.

sexual advances by the hero are mistakenly perceived as ‘cute’ or as part of an elongated courtship.

Inkaar is yet another movie which addresses the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace in a casual manner. The woman who accused the protagonist of sexual harassment runs away with him, in the end, to showcase a climax where love triumphs all. But the message of sexual harassment is just trivialised here.

There are numerous such movies where sexual advances by the hero are mistakenly perceived as ‘cute’ or as part of an elongated courtship, where the lines between harassment and actual courtship are blurred. The idea of sexual harassment is so ingrained on the silver screens that, intentionally or unintentionally, it is portrayed through certain problematic scenes within a movie.

Bollywood has not been successful in addressing workplace sexual harassment. There have been instances where women who wish to flourish in their career are asked to make compromises in order to get ahead in the industry. Many such cases go unreported or some accusations are left unconfirmed. A committee for the prevention of sexual harassment, which is supposed to be strict in implementing immediate action against the perpetrator, should be made and regularly monitored.

Kangana Ranaut is one of the actresses who has spoken about sexual harassment she faced at the workplace. She even discussed the fact that even after widespread sexual exploitation, society doesn’t cut short on victim-blaming and shaming, which is extremely tough to handle. But once again, the attitude of people towards sexual harassment has been showcased through cinema where harassment is depicted as ‘love’. It clearly reflects the mentality of producers and directors.

the lines between harassment and actual courtship are blurred.

“We talk about public or police apathy towards crimes against women but nothing comes close to the antipathy shown to women by Bollywood”, said Mahesh Dattani, an award-winning playwright. We need to make movies on sexual harassment in the workplace, but our take on this sensitive issue must be with utmost care, not a careless portrayal of women. Item numbers featured in movies are a perfect example of how women are perceived till today, despite actresses breaking barriers in the film industry.

Although cinema is purely stated to be a source of commercial entertainment, due consideration should be given to a script and screenplay where strong female characters are depicted. As well as zero exploitation and objectification – which should be encouraged by the public as well.

Also Read: Bollywood’s Relentless Tryst With Objectification And Rape Culture


Straits Times


The Week

Images used for representational purpose only. Image sources: Pinterest and Bollybrit

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