CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani and his censor board posse have issues with women abusing, expressing their sexual urges, and for being protagonists of their own films (remember when they felt Lipstick Under My Burkha was too… “lady-oriented”?).
But when it comes to gyrating along to sleazy lyrics that objectify women on-screen and reduce her to belly, thighs, breasts and legs, Nihalani and gang do what they do the best — look away, like Michael Cera in this gif.
Ghungta, a song from Nawazuddin Siddiqui starrer Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, features Neha Kakkar in what is dubbed as the quintessential ‘item number’.
It is a rendition of an RD Burman old song sung by Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhonsle. In the song, Randhir Kapoor, under the influence of some drugs, watches Neetu Singh in a pink choli and skirt, gyrating around for him. He’s obviously turned on by her dance and follows her around, talking about her ghungta and how someone should just take it off.
The song was placed as an added bonus while the villain in the film tries one-upping and plotting against the hero.
Released in 1973, not much has changed over the years, even when there’s talks of ample progress happening around. The song has been remixed several times in the last 15 years, following a similar template when it came to visuals. So the latest one is hardly surprising.
Nihalani, who ordered 48 cuts in the film in order to get it certified, had no qualms about the essential ‘item number’ while allegedly hating the fact that the film was laden with abuses — a film that is produced by a woman. The film’s producer Kiran Shroff had earlier said that she was humiliated by the examining committee for the language and the storyline of the film.
“How, as a woman, could Kiran make a film with so many abuses?” she heard among the committee.
She told The Times of India about what Nihalani and gang had to say about the film:
“You are lucky I’m not banning your film… What are these abuses? Do you plan to make a dictionary of bad words?” Asking her to remove a line that has the word ‘khada’ in it, Nihalani had said, “‘I will never let it pass because I am abused for my song ‘Khada Hai Khada Hai’ to this day.’ I’ll fight this till the end.”
Nihalani, obviously, has a problem with long kisses, women playing the lead, and words. Indian culture and what not. Last month, he had a problem with the word ‘intercourse’ in the recently-released rom-com Jab Harry Met Sejal. He found something to outrage about in Amartya Sen’s documentary film, where he asked for the words “Gujarat,” “cow,” “Hindutva view of India,” and “Hindu India,” muted.
But not one outrage happened when adult comedies (read: sleazy, cheap, all things tawdry) Kya Kool Hain Hum 3 and Mastizaade had their trailers released without a problem. Especially when the posters, too, left nothing to the imagination, let alone the ‘item numbers’ in the film.
Nihalani raised an issue with Ka Bodyscapes, too, because it deals with homosexuality. But, much like the gif (above), he looked the other way when a joke on sexual violence against a man made its way through in a supposedly progressive film like Badhrinath ki Dulhania.
As long as women continue dancing on-screen to lyrics that either refers to them as “tandoori chicken” or “zandu balm” and, like in this song, have lascivious men gyrating along to lyrics that talk of what kind of controversy might erupt when the metaphorical ghunghat is lifted.
Director Alankrita Shrivastava, the woman behind the supremely “lady-oriented” film Lipstick Under My Burkha, nails it when it comes to the male gaze and their idea of what’s obscene.
“Whatever women in our films and in real life are made to do is what men like to see them do. We have been watching cinema through the eyes of men for a long time, and even women are used to it. The feminist point of view is scarcely represented in our culture. Are women really happy being confined to the roles men have assigned them? Of course not. Women are normal human beings with all the ambitions and passions others have. You cannot deny it.”
‘Ghungta’ from Babumoshai Bandookbaaz: