Vic­to­ria is an in­spi­ra­tion – she has been in­cred­i­bly brave in her ac­tions and by telling her story.


Iwas so im­pressed with Sha­bana Azmi’s in­ter­view in the lat­est is­sue of Fri­day (‘Item num­bers are sur­ren­der­ing to the male gaze’, De­cem­ber 5) that I asked my teenage daugh­ter to read it too.

wanted her to un­der­stand how Hindi com­mer­cial cin­ema in gen­eral and item songs in par­tic­u­lar are so harm­ful. They not only en­cour­age men to be dis­re­spect­ful to­wards women by por­tray­ing them as com­modi­ties, but have an ad­verse in­flu­ence on young girls too. Many of them watch the song and dance items in the films and be­lieve that good looks are all it takes to be suc­cess­ful in life.

I’ve asked my daugh­ter to en­cour­age her friends to read the ar­ti­cle as well and hope to start a healthy de­bate on the many points that Sha­bana Azmi raised.

I am hop­ing the ex­er­cise will go a long way in chang­ing mind­sets.

The in­ter­view with Sha­bana Azmi, a doyenne of Bol­ly­wood, was an ex­tremely in­tel­li­gent read that high­lighted not only the ac­tress’s jour­ney over the past four decades but also her can­did opin­ions and per­spec­tive on the trans­for­ma­tion that the in­dus­try has un­der­gone in the re­cent past. My favourite part was her thoughts on the por­trayal of women and the role item songs play in ob­jec­ti­fy­ing women. I to­tally agree with her when she says that ‘un­der the guise of cel­e­brat­ing a woman’s sen­su­al­ity what th­ese item num­bers are do­ing is sur­ren­der­ing to the male gaze... mak­ing her an ob­ject of voyeuris­tic plea­sure’.

Mak­ers of such songs might dis­agree, say­ing that we are ex­ag­ger­at­ing the ef­fect th­ese scenes have on the au­di­ence, but she is right as men tend to im­i­tate such songs and it can lead to sex­ual ha­rass­ment. Th­ese item songs might be harm­less fun on screen but can be a cause of sev­eral dam­ag­ing so­cial ills. and daugh­ter’, De­cem­ber 5). But later, on re­flec­tion, I had great ad­mi­ra­tion for her as she is now sin­gle-hand­edly bring­ing up her sur­viv­ing three chil­dren and teach­ing them how to be pos­i­tive in the face of such a trau­matic event.

The ar­ti­cle on how our high ex­pec­ta­tions for our­selves and our am­bi­tions could be hold­ing us back was very in­sight­ful (‘Should you try to be a high-flyer, or aim lower?’ De­cem­ber 5). I hope more par­ents read this ar­ti­cle and in­stead of forc­ing their kids to get bet­ter grades, en­cour­age them to do some­thing they en­joy.

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