Akshay Kumar has recently been making movies that highlights the plight of women in India. His last movie Toilet – Ek Prem Katha was much acclaimed and came as an important reflection on the state of affairs related to women in Indian villages. The usual theme of a backward religious family and the struggles to get them to understand the needs and respect for a woman which generally goes against their apparently ‘religious’ culture. This makes good viewing and this is where it appeals to the heart of the audiences.
However , this is just one side of the story. There is another story brewing up both in Hollywood and Bollywood. There are lots of voices being raised by woman against sexual harassment. This is something that we need to really ponder upon. Hollywood and Bollywood , for us in Pakistan , have been the flag bearers of women empowerment. We do expect a back-dated Brahman to disrespect women by not building a toilet in the house (which by the way is as disrespectful to men as women) and such themes are abundant in most of the films that attempt to ‘liberate’ women. But this sexual harassment thing is liberation gone wrong and needs to be studied as to why such people who are promoting great values for women around the world do not abide by it themselves?
This whole situation tells us about the state of affairs in the film industry. Whether it be Hollywood or Bollywood or our very own non-existent Lollywood , women are generally objectified at will and sold to the masses. Almost all women are victims of it . Yes , there are good movies . Movies that contain a message. But then there is unnecessary nudity and exposure in the name of arts. Some movies are probably made for selling nudity. Some keep it on the subliminal level. Very few movies avoid it especially in Bollywood. Most of the time the woman is an ‘item girl’ dancing for the masses and flaunting her assets in a disrespectful manner. The whole point in discussing this is to understand that people with a commercial intent are hell-bent on selling. A seller is a seller – he does not love his product. Maybe some do but the overall pull of a project moves in the direction the project is created for.
There is so much that has been said about the sexual harassment thing. It probably needs another post.
Coming back to the main topic. Akshay Kumar’s padman which is already a hit if we go by its trailer and the recent success of Toilet , does convey an important message. Women need to be respected and the taboos in the society that do not help a woman live a normal life need to be taken heads-on. Now when I was watching the padman trailer and when I was watching Toilet I was thanking Allah for the gift that we have – religion.
Both these movies and many others like this generally seem to blame religion for the ill treatment of women. This might be true for certain religions especially the ones that are not divine and have a cultural basis. But otherwise if I bring in Islam to the debate and we look at these issues from Islam’s perspective then as a Muslim one must thank Allah unlimited times to have helped us with these issues by sending us divine guidance. Otherwise we can see in a society without a divine religion how difficult it is to break the taboo. In a society like ours where religion is studied and almost every household has books explaining the issues that human beings face especially women related issues. There is a certain beauty in how such issues are tackled without causing any disrespect to any party involved.
There might be areas in Islamic societies which face issues like these but this is generally because they do not follow a religion. Otherwise every adult is not only educated in these issues but ways to tackle them are easily understood and implemented thanks to divine teachings. It is important to see such movies , nevertheless, and realize the blessings of having a divine religion that helped us sort out issues that we , otherwise , would have taken years to understand and tackle on our own.