Rising Menace Of Reels In India - Where Should We Draw The Line?

A now-viral video shared by Instagram user Salma Sheikh has stirred a debate online. In the clip, the woman is seen wearing a black saree and dancing in the aisle of an aircraft.

Oshi Saxena
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Rising Menace Of Reels In India - Where Should We Draw The Line?

Image Credit - @desimojito/X

Imagine you're on your way to work, college, or any other destination, Simply going about your day, suddenly, something catches your eye—a person, standing alone, starts dancing wildly. It could be a bustling metro station, a crowded train platform, or even an airport terminal. You find yourself witnessing an impromptu performance, perhaps to a catchy Bollywood tune or a popular song. While some may find it amusing or entertaining, for many others, it's anything but comfortable. While bewildered onlookers exchange glances of confusion and mutter disapprovingly, the performer remains unbothered, seemingly fueled by the desire for online approval.


From Likes To Discomfort

These occurrences have become increasingly common in recent months, reflecting a larger trend towards turning personal expression into a commodity and chasing after online popularity at any cost. Whether it's someone breaking into Bollywood-inspired moves at Mumbai airport or an anonymous individual twerking on the Delhi metro, the message is clear: people are willing to sacrifice public comfort for the sake of digital validation.

The performers, driven by the desire for online attention and validation, seem oblivious to the discomfort they may be causing those around them. As they enjoy the virtual applause of likes and shares, commuters and bystanders are left feeling awkward and uneasy.

The rise of social media platforms has transformed the way we communicate, connect, and share content with others. What was once a private moment or a spontaneous expression of joy has now become fodder for digital consumption, eagerly devoured by millions of users craving their daily dose of entertainment. But what happens when these moments of self-expression spill over into the public sphere, disrupting the normal flow of daily life and infringing upon the comfort of others?

Passenger’s Dance Performance on Flight Sparks Online Debate 

A now-viral video shared by Instagram user Salma Sheikh has stirred a debate online. In the clip, the woman is seen wearing a black saree and dancing in the aisle of an aircraft. She performed the song Style Style by AR Rahman and SP Balasubrahmanyam while other passengers looked on and the flight crew attended to their duties.


The Instagram reel has gained significant attention, with over 1.6 million views and 16,000 likes since it was posted. However, the video has also faced backlash from many internet users who found her actions inappropriate. The video has clearly divided opinions, with some people questioning Salma's choice to dance on a plane, while others acknowledge her boldness in sharing the moment publicly.

The Kolkata Airport Incident

Take, for example, a woman named Saheli Rudra shared the video on Instagram, and it quickly went viral. In the popular video, Rudra, dressed in blue pants and a white shirt, does frenetic dancing moves in the airport's waiting room in Kolkata. Her act drew perplexed glances from the other travellers. Unaffected by the attention, Rudra continues her performance of the Bollywood song 'Lovely' from the film Happy New Year, directed by Farah Khan. The film starred Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Sonu Sood, Abhishek Bachchan, Boman Irani, and Vivan Shah.


Rudra captioned the video, "Girte girte bach geyi (I almost fell)." Since its release, the film has received over 490,000 views and sparked a flurry of comments. One user expressed disgust, asking, "Why why… there should be a rule not to do this nautanki (drama) in public places." Another commenter asked, "After the dance, how do you handle the folks that look at you? It's very embarrassing. Injecting humour into the situation, someone said, "Social anxiety left the chat."

One person tagged the airport authority, requesting, "@aaiofficial, please look into these things and implement strict regulations to ban these nonsense immediately…"I repeat: please keep your sanity for the sake of the other travellers."

“You doing great. Public stunts aren’t everybody’s cup of tea. However, maintaining dignity and decorum in certain places is essential. By upholding standards, we not only show respect for ourselves but also create an environment where others treat us with respect,” another commenter stated

The Mumbai Airport Incident

In another recent incident at Mumbai airport, where a video surfaced showing a woman dancing to a popular Bollywood song. Clad in traditional Indian attire, she boldly performed dramatic dance moves to the amusement of some and the dismay of others. While some onlookers chuckled or simply glanced in passing, others expressed outright disapproval, labelling the performance a "public nuisance" and calling for action from airport authorities.


One person even commented online, comparing the scene to a "virus" spreading through the airport. While others cracked jokes, others expressed concern about the escalating trend, which does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.  One user stated, ''Cringed so hard that it twisted my intestines into a knot. And it's always a terrible, obscure 90s Bollywood song.'' Another person asked, ''Where is humanity and sanity going?'' A third said, ''People like them need strict laws and penalties, they've turned every place into a circus.'' 

A fourth user even went out to seek stern action by telling the PM, ''I urge Prime Minister Modi to ban these clowns from all public places in his next term.'' A fifth said, ''@AAI_Official must ensure this nonsense goes non-existent in and out of the Airport Premises. People visit airports for serious business, not for time passes and entertainment. This is seriously frustrating to even look at, let alone experience this live.''

So far, no authorities have taken action. 

The Delhi Metro Incident

Similarly, incidents aboard the Delhi metro have garnered widespread attention and condemnation. In one viral video, an unidentified woman was seen engaging in explicit dance moves, including twerking and belly dancing, much to the bewilderment of fellow passengers. Witnesses described scenes of discomfort and disbelief as the woman unabashedly gyrated and gestured, seemingly unfazed by the discomfort of those around her.

The video, claimed by Instagram user @manishadancer, quickly went viral, provoking a barrage of criticism and calls for retaliation in online communities.

The Line Between Talent And Sensationalism

At the core of the issue lies a fundamental question: where do we draw the line between genuine talent and gratuitous sensationalism? While there's no denying the value of self-expression and creative freedom, it's essential to consider the context and impact of our actions on others. What may seem like harmless fun or a bid for online fame to some can be deeply unsettling and intrusive to others, particularly in shared public spaces.

Consider a different situation on the Delhi metro, where two teenage girls were video themselves participating in a Holi celebration, dressed in traditional Indian attire, applying coloured powder to one another's faces, and making intimate gestures. While the girls may have intended it as a lighthearted homage to the festival of colours, many viewers found their behaviour inappropriate for a public setting, which sparked outrage and calls for action, leading to an investigation by Delhi police and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).

A Need For Boundaries

While there's nothing wrong with showcasing talent, there's a time and place for everything. Public spaces are meant for everyone to share and enjoy, not for individuals to use as their personal stage for gaining online fame. It's important to differentiate between genuine expressions of talent and attention-seeking behaviour that disrupts others.

In the case of the woman dancing at Mumbai airport, some people defended her actions, arguing that she was simply expressing herself and spreading joy. However, others felt that her behaviour was disrespectful and inappropriate for a public place. Similarly, the girls celebrating Holi on the metro may have been innocently recreating a scene from a movie, but their actions made many passengers uncomfortable.

While social media offers a platform for self-expression and creativity, it shouldn't come at the expense of others' comfort and well-being. We need to strike a balance between sharing our talents and respecting the boundaries of public spaces. Ultimately, the solution lies in promoting empathy and awareness among individuals. Before posting a video online or engaging in public behaviour, we should pause to consider how it might affect those around us.

Views expressed are the author's own. 

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