Dil De Diya, the second number from Salman Khan-comeback-starrer Radhe, released today and, true to expectation, is as much an earsore as was the first track Seeti Maar. The ladies in Khan’s films – especially ones that venerate him as the centrepiece – seem to be nothing more than side props. These recent songs are perfect exhibits.
But it’s not just Radhe on whose macho shoulders all the responsibility of cringe sexism in ‘Bollywood dance numbers’ rests. Through the pandemic, between 202o and 2021, the audience has been (mis)treated to a slew of similar tunes that carry the baton of dated song-dance stereotypes forward, without sparing their spoils so much as an over-the-shoulder glance these actors are so adept at.
Here are some such songs whose sexist distress we could have done without in this period of gloom:
1. Dil De Diya
One with Disha Patani and another with Jacqueline Fernandez. Both ‘Bollywood dance numbers’ from Radhe make it a point to paint Salman ‘bhai’ as the inimitable icon of testosterone that he is. In one, he uses the female actor like a dumbbell and in the other, the female actor clings to his single, bare leg.
Wedged between these antics, Radhe is shaping up to be one of the most promising oddities to ever leave the Khan station for Eid.
2. Nadiyon Paar
This Janhvi Kapoor-starrer from Roohi gets multiple minus points for spoiling a perfectly iconic jam from our childhood that bore so much fond nostalgia and many memories of a simpler time. Sorry Shamur, Bollywood let the music play right into the remix room where so many classic numbers are going now to die.
3. Teri Bhabhi
Teri Bhabhi from Varun Dhawan and Sara Ali Khan’s Coolie No. 1 is a quintessential 90s Hindi track just polished shiny. It was only expected since David Dhawan’s name is behind it and so the song serves up a whole new menu of machismo adjusted to the 21st century, but which was perhaps better left in an older era when such sexism sold like hotcakes. (It still does, but then expect criticism.)
4. Hasina Pagal Deewani
Kiara Advani taking the stage solo on a song from a film about India-Pakistan doesn’t sound all too bad as an idea. But when it was executed as Hasina Pagal Deewani from Indoo ki Jawani, it was a heady mashup of everything non-palatable rolled into one. Advani intoxicated and dancing suggestively while the ‘profanity’ makes her male family slobber and female family faint; and of course, the male lead, sanctimonious with his saviour complex as ever, trying to save the girl from embarrassment.
5. Duniya Sharma Jayegi
Ah, throwback to when Bollywood managed to be not just sexist, but almost racist too. Or at least that’s what it seemed like at first listen, when this Ishaan Khatter-Ananya Panday song was still named Beyonce Sharma Jayegi. They changed the name to Duniya Sharma Jayegi – thereby removing errors of perception about disrespect to Queen Bey – but the goriya tic was left intact as if to say, ‘fine we’ll remove the risk of racism but Hindi cinema’s mainstay of obsession with fair skin will stay.’
Views expressed are the author’s own.
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