Today in India, women are undervalued by their male counterparts. Instances of harassment, more commonly, eve teasing, are rampant and increasing quickly. Many would agree that media plays a large role in the development of perspective, and based on Bollywood media today, tomorrow doesn’t offer any hope for women.
Recent Bollywood movie, “Dabangg 2”, opens a window into Indian culture through a story of lust and political sabotage. In the film, protagonist Chulbul Pandey, played by Salman Khan, demonstrates the duality of male culture. In uniform, officer Pandey fights the culture of domination by breaking the legs and neck of a man caught harassing a woman. However, when out of uniform in the “Chipkale Saiyan Fevicol Se” musical number, he encourages the disposal of women in the ‘Fevicol Se’ brothel scene. Pandey’s duality upholds the hidden and officially “forbidden” side of Indian culture. The careless use of women as instruments of pleasure only encourages instances rape, and eve-teasing. Furthermore, laxity becoming the norm, young women are more often expected to assume a carefree attitude, further pushing these ideals onto society.
The song, “Chipkale Saiyan Fevicol se,” translated “Hey Love! You Can Glue Me On,” sung by Mamta Sharma and others, perfectly depicts the corruption of male culture in India. Set in Bihar, India, the music video is filmed in a brothel, were prostitutes earn their living dancing seductively around whistle blowers. Its catchy, upbeat tune is provocative, attracting a large male audience to the film. Women in the music video are dressed in skin tight clothes, with garlands in their hair and compulsory red lipstick. The video’s extensive female objectification promotes physical surrender to males’ dominating drive for pleasure, and merely betrays the unfortunate reality of everyday life for many Indian women.
Along with the video, the song’s lyrics also depict a woman compulsively adhering to the expectations a male dominated culture by giving way to seductive charm. The dancer reveals her belief that femininity is defined by male attention when she sings the following:
“O my friend, stick my photo to your chest with Fevicol,
I have been ready for a long time
Persuade me by giving me a missed call.
Stick my photo to your chest using Fevicol.
By using Fevicol, a local adhesive, to stick a picture to his chest, she demonstrates that their connection is merely superficial. She is making a desperate, yet failing attempt to fulfill her need for a heart connection by placing a fabricated image of herself near, but just outside his heart. Beyond unmet emotional needs, the item girl is further devalued in the following lyrics:
Come my king, let me show you the heaven
I set fire to the cold water
I am a barbecue hen.
Swallow me along with alcohol, oh my beloved.
Stick my photo to your chest with Fevicol
The lyrics demonstrate the ultimate saleable existence of women. By comparing herself to meat and alcohol, she makes herself something consumable–disposable. She promises to satisfy one man’s hunger for an evening, knowing that the hunger will return again in the morning.
This false display of women in Bihar suggest that both single women and housewives ought to accept a nature of surrender to male dominance. While “Dabangg 2” and “Fevicol Se” are set in Bihar, a hub of prostitution, the fundamental problem is much more widespread. This one song gives only a glimpse into the present degradation of women in Indian society. And sadly, as Bollywood media of this sort is becoming normal, the duality of male dominance is pushing deeper into the heart of our culture.