After Sonam Kapoor’s wedding, it is now time for Veere Di Wedding to be out and about for the audience. The trailer for the film was released recently which was perceived to be rather profanity-laden. Veere Di Wedding (#notachickflick) is a multi-starrer which makes an attempt to portray the modern Indian woman and alongside celebrate female bonding.
The only problem lies in the fact that despite all the attempts, it seemingly fails.
The upcoming movie’s trailer has quite conspicuously attempted to illustrate the movie as empowering, uplifting and women-centric – unlike the typical ‘chick flicks’. The leading ladies of the film try to paint themselves as the poster-children for the 21st ultra modern century. These rather cool, rich, urban Indian women live it up and about, they drink, go to clubs, drive cars, aren’t shy of expressing their sexuality and are most certainly not defined or limited by the men who surround them. While these characteristics certainly make me happy as an audience to see the new and fresh perspective of the industry, my hopes are short-lived to see the new song ‘Tareefan’.
Now don’t get me wrong. I too like most of you absolutely love the music and beats of the song. However, as much as I appreciate the music, it falls short of compensating for its rather boisterous lyrics and video. The song features all the lead women of the film and at the first glance, it seems rather progressive in nature.
However, it is almost impossible to ignore the misogynistic, sexist and chauvinist language due to which the central theme of the movie lies defeated. The more disturbing fact is the transparently obvious reflection of our distorted understanding of gender and empowerment.
The way in which ‘Tareefan’ objectifies men draws a similar highlight in the same way that women have long been objectified in Bollywood for more than several decades.
The visuals of multiple, semi-naked, faceless men in bed with Kareena Kapoor, and a man wearing just a strategically placed towel who is eyed by Sonam Kapoor are similar to the scantily clad women seen in most item songs of Bollywood. At one point in the song, Swara Bhaskar casually spanks a man’s butt and laughs coyly.
What I refuse to accept is the fact that how can objectification in any form be normalised to this extent? Are one-upmanship and blatant, mindless reversal of gender roles all we seek as women in this day and age? Is this why we call ourselves ‘modern women’, to shame men?
My problem with the song is also the depiction of ‘empowerment’. The women attempt to embody characteristics of traditional masculinity, both through objectification and more. They are repeatedly shown as excessively in control, the centre of attention and affection of several men, treating others around as secondary and even physically fighting one another in a bar.
Why do we have to imbibe the worst of toxic, male behaviour to feel empowered? Why does our definition of fun and strength always come from the (low) standard set by men? Why can’t a softer, sensitive portrayal be powerful? We are actually celebrating masculinity, just putting faces of women to it.
The most ironic part is the lyrics to ‘Tareefan’. The man sings to the woman -“Hor dus kiniyan tareefen chahidyan tainu?” This line translates to ‘tell me how many more praises do you want?’. This is a classic reinforcement of gender stereotypes. It builds on the notion that the way to a woman’s heart is only through praises or giving her validation.
Badshah’s rap is especially problematic — there are repeated references to a woman’s derriere — from calling it “lean” to “Jeans hai dalli joh voh teri booty pe tight (You’re wearing jeans that are tight around your buttocks)”. Then, as he speaks about a woman’s body parts that he considers perfect and others consider flawed, the camera zooms in on Sonam Kapoor’s breasts (Catering to the male gaze, again, are we?).
It gets more ridiculous, sometimes making me wonder whether the lyrics were inspired by stereotypical WhatsApp wife jokes. “Dieting pe hai toh kyun khatti bhav (If you’re on a diet, why are you showing attitude?)” asks Badshah.
Although the song has got me hooked and I listen to it more often than I probably should, but every time it is about to end I wonder – “Have we internalised misogyny to such an extent that we don’t even recognise it anymore?”