Disability in Bollywood is a touchy topic and there’s a dire need to rethink how Bollywood portrays differently-abled characters.
Bollywood- Also known as Indian Film Industry is not just a business but is an emotion. Bollywood is a sentiment for most Indians and there is no doubt in accepting that it not only has a huge fan base in India but is also famous among people all across the globe. Cinema is considered to be a powerful medium and reflects the happening of our society. With its vast reach, it has been particularly effective in changing people’s perception and uprooting societal stereotypes.
B-town’s engagement with many special and sensitive categories is not new and therefore it has always tried to portray characters that offer the audience a window into the wider world. Bollywood since its inception has come up with many stories that are about people with disabilities and attempted to break free the audience from the regular narratives.
Nowadays, while dealing with the portrayal of differently-abled, Hindi films often use the comic expression, without the depiction of hard realities of life and behavioural truths. Disability has been widely misunderstood by Indian society due to constant social marginalization and a lack of sensitization and awareness amongst the general public.
Disability and trends in Indian Cinema
There have been two trends that are mostly followed in Bollywood films that portray a disabled character. So far, several filmmakers use disability as a comic interlude or to give a dramatic twist to the script. While some films project persons with disabilities as heroes. The portrayal of disabilities swings between the two extremes in Indian films.
If specifically talking about Hindi films, we have an endless list of movies that raises question on the Indian film industry for not showing disabilities and illness realistically and respectfully. In the Golmaal series, Tushar Kapoor is characterised as a person with a speech disability, who often gets mocked by his fellow characters. His character in the film was just created to manufacture comedy out of his muteness.
There are many other such characters created in Bollywood who displayed one or the other kind of disabilities in order to develop the fun and comedy part in the films. Films like Tom Dick and Harry, Housefull 3, Zero, Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, and immeasurably more depicts the disabled characters exactly in a way, they should not have portrayed.
Arguably, people with disabilities are persistently portrayed as they are unable to live their life independently and a typical portrayal of dependency is showcased. Often, in the Hindi film industry, the portrayal of disability is shown as the pathway of evil. And therefore, many negative characters have been depicted as disabled to create a comparison between Disability and Karma.
Caught up between Reel and Real life
Movies take us inside the skin of people quite different from ourselves and to places different from our routine surroundings. This a major reason, while watching movies people believe it to be real, and what can be more real than disability. It’s a trend in Bollywood where a person who is not disabled portrays the character of a disabled person making the character look unreal. This mounds to be a big reason why the audience is unable to connect with the character.
Let’s just take the example of Bhumi Pednekar and Ayushman Khurrana in their film Bala. Though the movie was not based on disability but was based a societal pressure that a dark-skinned woman and bald man faces. The characters casted in the movie never really lived the experience and therefore, somewhere or the other the audience just took the movie as an entertainment masala.
Shahrukh Khan, the king of Bollywood, played a character of a dwarf man named Bauua Singh in the movie, Zero. The movie also had a character, Aafia Yusufzai Bhinde played by Anushka Sharma, an NSAR scientist (a fictionalized depiction of NASA) with cerebral palsy. The movie didn’t focus on the plot it was built and ended up being a romantic-comedy-drama.
There are many Bollywood actors like Abhishek Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan, who have spoken out about their own battles with disability while growing up. After the release of Taare Zameen Par, Bachchan shared his inspiring story of how he overcame dyslexia as a child. Roshan too has spoken about the several painful speech therapy sessions he went through to overcome his stammer to become one of the top actors in the film industry.
Credit where credit’s due: Bollywood’s successful portrayal of disabilities
Disability as a category is not new to Bollywood. Bollywood has many times proved its genuine attempts to seriously and truthfully get to the roots of disabilities portrayed. There are many films made in Bollywood that, we as viewers can be extremely proud of. Disabilities have been successfully portrayed in Bollywood with movies like- Black, Taare Zameen par, Iqbal, Margarita with a Straw, My name is Khan, Paa, Barfi, Hichki, and the list has many more to add.
These movies not only accomplished their goals with the sensitive performances of the actors but were also commercial hits. These films went beyond their themes to represent people with disabilities.
Ramappa Temple: India’s 39th World Heritage Site
The 13th-century Ramappa temple in Palampet, Telangana is now a World Heritage Site. After being on UNESCO’S tentative list for the tag of World Heritage site since 2014, the Rudreswara Temple also known as Ramappa temple is now finally inscribed as a location with an “outstanding universal value” by the United Nations organization.
Despite being Indian government’s only nomination for the UNESCO World Heritage site tag for the year 2019, Ramappa temple finally made it to the 2021 UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The decision to inscribe this 13th-century temple was taken at the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO held on Sunday in China.
It gives me immense pleasure to share that @UNESCO has conferred the World Heritage tag to Ramappa Temple at Palampet, Warangal, Telangana.
— G Kishan Reddy (@kishanreddybjp) July 25, 2021
World Heritage Site tag
The World Heritage site is given to a location that holds a universal value which implies cultural significance. World Heritage is the designation for places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization gives the tag to a place after selecting them on the basis of cultural and natural criteria. To be included on the World Heritage List, the sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria.
The Ramappa Temple and UNESCO tag
The Ramappa temple in Telangana became the 39th site in India to be inscribed in the world heritage list. During the selection procedure on Sunday which was held in China, over 17 of the 21 member nations supported the inscription of the Indian temple that is named after its architect, Ramappa.
Excellent! Congratulations to everyone, specially the people of Telangana.
The iconic Ramappa Temple showcases the outstanding craftsmanship of great Kakatiya dynasty. I would urge you all to visit this majestic Temple complex and get a first-hand experience of it’s grandness. https://t.co/muNhX49l9J pic.twitter.com/XMrAWJJao2
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 25, 2021
What does the tag mean?
With UNESCO giving Ramappa temple, the tag of World Heritage site is obvious to have the query that what this tag would mean for the temple? And will UNESCO have a say in the functioning of the temple?
It is obvious that the World Heritage tag is for sure going to increase the tourism of the traditional temple located in Telangana. Apart from this, the title of World Heritage and the fame attached to it even makes the government as well as citizens more aware of the cultural and heritage preservation of the site.
Impractical, Degrading & Sexualising
Norwegian Women’s Handball Team fined for not playing in bikini bottoms.
The players in the Norwegian women’s beach handball team were fined on Monday over “a case of improper clothing.” The women players were punished for wearing shorts rather than bikini bottoms during a recent game in Bulgaria. Yes! That’s true. Each player of the Norwegian women’s handball team was penalised as they decided to compete in their usual training uniforms and not bikini bottoms.
The European Handball Association (EHF) has fined the 10-member squad with a fine of 150 euros (around $175) for violating international handball uniform requirements. In the efforts to protest against the rule that mandates the women’s handball team to compete in bikini bottoms, the team wore thigh-length elastic shorts during the match – shorts that are only acceptable for male handball players.
According to International Handball Federation regulations, while male players are permitted to play in tank tops and shorts no longer than 4 inches above the knee, women are required to wear midriff-baring tops and bikini bottoms “with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg” and a maximum side width of 4 inches. In short, for female players, bikini bottoms are the required and a must uniform requirement.
Despite a strong criticism against this uniform requirement for the women’s team in Norway, the International Handball Federation in its statement has said, “All necessary efforts will be taken in order to further promote the sport. This includes the ideal presentation of the sport and that includes the outfit of the players too.”
Why the violation is gaining support?
The federation’s rule that men are allowed to wear shorts, while women can only wear bikini bottoms in itself is problematic. By not complying with the International Handball Federation’s regulations, Norway’s team is clearly standing against the presence of double standards for female athletes in the sports world.
When both male and female players work equally hard and get trained in a similar manner, the difference in their uniform doesn’t make any sense and only promotes sexualising of women in sports.
Men's beach-handball teams uniform vs the women's uniform.
— DJMick Daily (@DJMickDaily) July 21, 2021
As per the Norwegian team, the bikini bottoms aren’t practical in a sport that sees players constantly diving into the sand and a sports uniform should be what players are comfortable in while playing. Apart from this, some players even believe that these rules related to uniform requirements are simply degrading to women.
Norway is supporting its players
It’s interesting to note that although the players are being fined for violating the uniform requirements, the country’s Handball Federation is supporting them. The NHF on their social media platform even supported their team by said that it is extremely proud of its women team for taking a stance against the much-criticised and controversial rule.
In fact, since 2006, the NHF has been campaigning to change the uniform requirements, but “nothing has happened yet”. Also, as per the head of the NHF, Kare Geir Lio, “Women should have the right to have a uniform they think is suitable for performing in their sport.”
Even before the championships, Norway approached the EHF to ask for permission to play in shorts but were told that breaches of the rules were punishable by fines.
The issue is now gaining momentum on social media and is receiving support from various parts of the world as it is believed that such rules are impractical, embarrassing, sexualising, and degrading to women. Also, this inequality when it comes to the uniform amongst the male and female players is not just restricted to handball but impacts other sports like Beach Volleyball and Tennis as well.
@ihf_info Will you PLEASE tell us why it is necessary for the female beach handball players to wear bikini briefs? Why are the shorts the Norwegian team wore deemed unlawful? And why are the men allowed to wear regular shorts instead of Speedos? #Equality #misogyny
— Johanne Brøsted (@JBrsted) July 20, 2021
Dear @ihf_info. 🤾🏻♀️
Can you please stop the forced bikini nonsense at your beach handball games?
It is embarrassing, disgraceful and sexist.
You are ruining both the sport and your own reputation.
Member of Parliament
— Lene Westgaard-Halle (@LeneWestgaard) July 14, 2021
5 reasons why Bollywood has a monopoly over the Indian Music Industry
With absolutely no doubt, the most important thing that we adore about Bollywood is its music. If there’s one common thread that strings together all films that are released in Bollywood, it has got to be the entertainment with the frill of music that just adds spice and masala to these Bollywood movies.
But let’s think about it the other way. Popular Bollywood music has been around since the 1950s and ever since then, its audience has increased exponentially. People might probably be unaware of their Chief Minister’s name, but will surely know the lyrics of ‘Munni Badnaam’.
We love our music Industry, we honestly do. It has given us songs ranging from energetic party anthems to songs that just match well with our mood even when we feel dim. From songs that give us goosebumps sometimes to songs whose lyrics are downright ridiculous, we have it all. But if I ask you to name a few Hindi songs from your collection, it is for sure that most of the songs you will name will be from Bollywood movies. Ok…just for the sake of your satisfaction, try it once.
Bollywood music is definitely one of the reasons why most people love Bollywood, but have you ever thought that how despite having other film industries as well like Tollywood, Mollywood, Sandalwood, Pollywood and so many talented indie music artists in our country, Bollywood still manages to steal the thunder. With this, can we say that the music industry of our country is dominated and monopolised by Bollywood completely?
But if this is the case, it becomes important for us to know the rationales behind how Bollywood maintains its monopoly and governs the music industry of India.
1. Success of Bollywood stands out and above all
It’s a fact that Bollywood stands out and above all other national cinemas as far as its reach is concerned. As the majority of people in our country speak and understand Hindi, Bollywood becomes the choice of Indians. It is therefore that Bollywood music automatically gets its audience with the vast reach of the industry. Since most people in our country listen to Bollywood music, the industry has created its monopoly over the Indian music industry.
As per KPMG in India analysis Bollywood music accounts for about 50 per cent of all consumption in the country and the rest is then divided into regional music, music by indie artists and international repertoire.
2. Opposition between Indie & Bollywood music industry
The tussle is no new to the film industry. It’s not just restricted to Bollywood but other film industries in India to keep their focal point more on the songs as compared to the artists. Yes! The sad reality is that the film industries in our country are highly song-focussed and not artist-focussed which always makes the artist play a secondary role.
The mannerism in which the film industry works often makes the artist and his talent take the backstage while making the lip-synching actors gain all attention from the audience. Although, this is a necessary step in the process, still, it is important to note that the practice often makes the audience ignore the actual talent behind the scenes.
3. Bollywood looks for a shortcut
Bollywood uses a simple strategy: What’s already popular, make it your own. Let me make this easy for you. You must have probably noticed that Bollywood tries to adapt to what’s already famous. We have seen an immense number of Bollywood songs that are a copy of songs that are already a hit. Simply, if something is becoming somewhat famous and is being enjoyed amongst the Indian consumers, soon enough that music gets featured in Bollywood.
We have a clear example of the latest trend in Bollywood where old evergreen hits are getting recreated. The music industry today just looks for a shortcut by picking old or other popular hits to make money by adding a new twist to it.
4. Bollywood: A promotional instrument
For most music artists, Bollywood acts as a promotional instrument. Everybody wants to get into the big industry. Many music artists and singers believe that getting into Bollywood would get them the name and fame they always aspired about, which to an extent is true as well.
Far from doubts, Bollywood has great promotional potential as with its vast audience and reach, it provides the music artist and singers to reach the 1.3 billion population of the country. Therefore, even the artists and musicians intend to get into the industry to create a fan base and an audience.
5. Ownership of music
Gaining ownership with the help of Copyright laws is one of the most important factors that allow Bollywood to access a complete monopoly over the music industry in India. The complicated process of music creation and the involvement of multiple individuals makes it difficult to understand who should be considered as the owner of the song and who is the principal creator of the artwork.
The process and gaining rights over the musical piece majorly go to the music label or film production company that ultimately gives the label the control to exploit the content as well. This simply denotes that the Music Label owning the copyrights can use the ‘work’ in whatever way they seem fit.
The problem with ‘What I eat in a day’ videos
Exploring the harmful side of ‘what I eat in a day’ videos, with the pertinent question being – Is this content really healthy?
Let me start by asking a very simple question to you – What’s ‘what I eat in a day’ videos for you? Let me guess – ‘Doodh chodh do, dahi chodh do, ghee chodh do, atta chodh do, just don’t eat anything’ – at least, these videos on the face perpetuate this very idea of starving yourself to death if in any case, you want the so-called healthy, attractive or slim body. Right?
But you know what scares me the most – the idea that following a particular diet plan that just worked for a specific person will work for everyone on the planet. Honestly speaking, these trends in a sense are a bit problematic, why? Because most of us are now following a sedentary lifestyle with the lowest levels of physical activity, and watching these videos will give us the idea that following the same meal plan might help us achieve similar outcomes.
With every thumbs-up and thumbs-down on our screen, there’s one thing common with these ‘what I eat in a day’ videos, and that’s their thumbnails. Almost every time, I come across these videos online, the image of an extremely delicious-looking salad appears, but right next to it, there mostly appears an image of a woman wearing either a sports bra or a swimsuit making it just obvious that by eating this specific meal plan, you too are going to attain the same body structure.
Don’t you think that meal plans are getting shared too much nowadays? Nonetheless, this craze of ‘what I eat in a day’ videos is hitting an all-time high in terms of its viewer tally. However, some scroll down after watching these pseudo-professional nutrition tips without thinking of it much, but some on the other are obsessed with these videos and often fall for such diet plans which is alarming.
It is unquestionably true that today’s generation is easily persuadable and which is why this leading ‘what I eat in a day’ content by many influencers and celebrities has increased the concerns of many health experts and nutritionists about its dangers as they believe that these videos made on misleading and incorrect information may encourage disordered eating which can lead to unfavourable outcomes.
“I have seen a lot of celebrities, social media influencers and quacks post about such trends to engage their audience and influence them. Honestly, it’s a wrong practice and misguides everyone. A large number of the young population receive inspiration from these videos which often leads to crash dieting and adverse health outcomes. Frankly speaking, there is no fixed meal or food that needs to be taken throughout the day, it keeps on changing and ultimately variety is needed. There has to be sustainability,” said Margi Mankad, a Nutritionist based in Pune.
Most important! Differentiate between an Influencer & an Expert
“Just like brushing your teeth doesn’t make you a dentist. Similarly, losing weight or having a healthy lifestyle does not make you a Nutritionist. This might sound weird, but it’s true. Viewers need to understand that these meal plan videos will not only mislead them but will also not provide them with the benefits they are looking for. It’s like blind leading the blind,” said Aesha Mehta, Health Coach at GOQii technologies and Research assistant at Lilavati Hospital, Mumbai.
You will be misguided from your intention if you gain knowledge from unprofessional nutrition guidance. It is, therefore, important and necessary to have legitimate solid advice promoted by professionals as diet plans need to involve the right nutrition content and direction.
“What if a doctor prescribes a wrong medication to the patient? The patient will of course suffer and will have adverse health outcomes. Similar is the case with ‘food’,” Mankad said. “Incorrect practices may lead a person towards extreme weight-loss, being deficient in essential vitamins and minerals, and will ultimately decrease their quality of life.”
Remember! Every ‘body’ is different, ‘genes’ have a role to play
It is important to note that these ‘what I eat in a day’ videos simply put out the message that following the same meal plan may lead any person to lose weight and can help them obtain the same physical appearance as that of the influencer. But the catch here is that these influencers or quacks not just conveniently forget about proper nutrition required by a human body but also discards the role of genetics in determining a person’s weight loss journey.
“Sorry to burst your bubble, but weight loss also relies on genetics. Metabolism, presence of any hereditary or non-hereditary disease, family history, many such characteristics define a person’s body weight and external appearance,” said Vaidehi Apte, a food safety enthusiast and a postgraduate in Food Science from London Metropolitan University (UK).
“It’s good that celebrities and media influencers today are promoting health. But they should only be vocal about a healthy lifestyle, not a particular diet which is often showcased in ‘what I eat in a day’ videos.” Further adding, she said, “It’s high time that people should stop comparing themselves with a person who has a completely different body type and this is the very reason why one-on-one consultation from a professional is mandatory before experimenting with our beautiful bodies.”
A complete deficiency of Body Positivity!
It is no secret that these ‘what I eat in a day’ videos are mostly posted by the influencers who possess the so-called ‘standard or attractive body’ which automatically makes the viewers compare themselves with those thin and small body sizes visible in the visuals.
Hardi Trivedi, a professional in Nutrition and Dietetics said, “These videos often portray the fact that the ultimate achievement of a healthy body is being thin. Most people believe that since their favourite influencer or a particular celebrity is following a certain diet, they can do it too and obtain similar results. But that’s not the case. She also said, “In this whole process of looking attractive, we are losing ourselves and have stopped appreciating who we actually are.”
Not just the viewers! It affects the creators too
Negative feedback and comments are a part of social media and therefore, sometimes it can relatively act toxic as well. Some people look at things with different glasses which can lead to negativity for some. The same is the case for social media.
“Non-stop negative feedback and comments about the creator’s appearance, body or any personal aspect can lead to a drop in confidence. This can even make them become the victims of suicidal thoughts and severe depression,” Trivedi added.
It is sometimes possible that instead of gaining likes, comments and praises for the content shared on social media platforms, the creator might even get trolled which can further hamper the mental health of the creator itself affecting their confidence leading them to depression, anxiety, disturbed mental health.
Therefore, various health experts and nutritionists warn against such social media trends as the visuals present in the videos often mislead people. It is not possible to end this trend at once, but proper knowledge and awareness of facts may help us cope with this catfishing.
Indian Indie Music Artists who deserve to be on your playlist
Music, no doubt, fills an unavoidable space in our lives. To some extent, we all are dependent on music in one or the other way. Music has always been a go-to for almost all of us. Music is the only language we understand irrespective of the place or the culture we live in.
Specifically talking in context to India where the Music Industry is dominated and monopolised by Bollywood, Indie music is slowly making its mark. It is beyond the shadow of a doubt that India in recent times is not only accepting the drastically changing music but is also accepting indie music with an open heart.
Therefore, to celebrate this World Music Day, we at The Wonk have decided to share a few Indie Artists in India who deserve to be on your playlist in 2021.
1. The F16s
The F16s is a Chennai-based alternative band who describe themselves as ‘a pop band disguised in a rock and roll outfit’. This Indie rock band is known for their catchy lyrics with grooving bass lines and high in energy upbeat drums.
The band comprises of vocalist-guitarist Josh Fernandez, bassist Sashank Manohar, keyboardist/sampler Harshan Radhakrishnan, drummer Vikram Yesudas and guitarist Abhinav Krishnaswamy. The common hatred of the band members for engineering brought them together and helped them found a common ground in the music they liked and wanted to play.
You can listen to the top 10 songs by F16s here.
2. Anoushka Maskey
Anoushka Maskey is a singer-songwriter, who turned the ears of the listeners towards her last year when she described the loneliness and hard truths of the pandemic that changed almost everybody’s life. The self-taught singer released her first musical project “Things I Saw in a Dream” in August 2020.
Maskey’s songs will surely make you feel nostalgic with a touch of relatability. Her distinctive vocal styling is very calm and is soothing for all kinds of listeners.
3. MC Altaf
Yes! The 18-year boy who tutored Ranveer Singh for Gully Boy. MC Altaf at a young age has carved his own lane in the hip-hop scene in the country. The rapper from Dharavi, Altaf Shaikh better known as MC Altaf’s shot into the limelight when his song was featured on the Bollywood film ‘Gully Boy’s’ soundtrack.
MC Altaf’s last year not only released a slew of singles including the trap-leaning “Cash Do”, but also sat in on fellow rapper Divine’s hit track “Mirchi” off his album Punya Paap. The hip-hop artist this year as well released his latest solo single “Soch” and believes to write about relevant things and not just music that serves pure entertainment or commercial purpose.
So, if you are interested in hip-hop and rap, MC Altaf is undeniably the one artist that you can listen to with full trust.
Udyan Sagar, commonly known as Nucleya, is an Indian electronic music producer who is successfully ruling the music charts with his infectious grooves. It is in no way possible that you haven’t danced on the crazy beats of Nucleya. Nucleya, for sure is India’s most popular independent music producer.
5. The Local Train
The Local Train is unquestionably one of the most talented Indie rock bands out there today in India. Known for singles like Aaoge Tum Kabhi, Choo Lo, and Khudi. The Local Train is an Indian Hindi Rock band originally from Delhi, consisting of Raman Negi on lead vocals and guitar, Ramit Mehra on backing vocals and bass guitar, Paras Thakur on lead guitar and backing vocals, and Sahil Sarin on drums and percussions.
The band came together in 2011, and since then the four boys have been leaving everybody astonished with their music and beats.
6. Thugs Unit
Thugs Unit is the first and the only Urdu Rappers from India. Thugs Unit, the Hyderabad-based duo are known for their fusion beats, thought-provoking messaging and signature multilingual lyrics that switch between Urdu, English and Jamaican Patois.
7. Hari & Sukhmani
The Folktronica duo Hari and Sukhmani are known for delivering hit songs tuned with fresh and eclectic sounds with ambient electronics. It’s been 10 years now, and the duo still manages to strike a chord with the audiences with every new song and performance.
Singer, producer-DJ, model, actor and voiceover artist, Ambika Nayak aka Kayan, is always found singing stories. The singer with her Jazz and pop stylistic approach has performed at major music events in the country such as NH7 Weekener (2018) and Sula Fest (2019).
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