Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Thought piece – Are “Item Numbers” over-stepping the limit?

Saw Sanjay Dutt’s and Koena Mitra’s act in the song “O, Saki, Saki” from the film “Musafir.” I had seen excerpts of it earlier, but it’s the first time I am seeing it in its entirety. The song is a rage with the youth, my own son being a cult follower of the latest trends. He has downloaded a ring tone on my mobile phone and plays it often.

It irritates me to hear the tune every time I receive a call. The irritation became even more pronounced after today’s viewing of the entire song. Here was I doing my daily morning exercise and my eyes nearly popped out on seeing the visuals. Shocking, would be an understatement, in my opinion.

There are no appropriate words to express my outrage and indignation at this song. It pushes the limits and then proceeds to cross them. No, not the fine boundary, but the extreme limiting line between gratuitous violence, murder and mayhem. And it is sure to spoil the impressionable youth, like my son, who will be persuaded to believe that violence, sex and indecency is okay. Moreover, it sets out to glorify deadly and insidious habits that can be harmful for health as proved by science and medicine.

First the thrusting, and hip wiggling Koena Mitra is constantly shown gyrating, her panties on view, tantalizingly. “Item number” the purveyors of such stuff would say. But how would she like being called an “Item number” on her face. She is naked except for some shiny underwear stuff that adds to her allure. Okay, a little eroticism is needed to sell a movie, but this is outright sexual provocation, nothing else.

Then Sanjay Dutt brandishes his knife. Then the dancers come out with weapons like scythes, swords, machetes, and make motions like killing each other and the sexy Koena. Suddenly, there are enough weapons on the screen to fight an entire medieval war.

Come on; is this okay to show the deprived millions who watch these acts of suggested violence? I mean, the film is already full of such stuff, showing enough gore, but do you want to show violence in a song too? They say it is harmless, I don’t think it is harmless when it would even incite one person to think about violent acts.

“Oh sharabi, kya sharabi, jo nasheme na rahe.”
“What is a drunk if he isn’t intoxicated?”

Now, don’t tell me these lyrics aren’t provocative. It is, in the extreme. It gives the impression that to drink is to be in a state of bliss. True Indian poets have poeticized intoxication in their works, but this is pushing the limits further. Dutt is shown in a state of drunkenness. And he passes the blade of his knife around Mitra’s throat several times. If it isn’t provocative and violent what is?

Drunkenness, lewdness, lechery, provocation to sex is what we see when we switch on the television. Is this needed? Isn’t it incitement? When such questions are asked the songwriters, directors hide behind the curtain of artistic freedom. Is this art? Not by any stretch of the imagination, I think.

Would somebody do something about this? I don’t know what the public think. But the makers of such “Item numbers” would even claim that it is artistic and that what is elevating. Being hypocritical comes naturally to the Bollywood denizens.

Over to you Caferati, what do you think?