Gone are the times when grandmother’s tales and Doordarshan were the quintessential depictions of Indian sensibilities. Now people look forward to Bollywood and news channels to discover the new qualities of an Indian. And why not? Media is supposed to represent our society. So if the big screen tells you that an Indian dons sarees, you do it! But how much of this media representation stands affirmative? Does anyone bother tracing back the origins of some of these nonsensical expectations?
A certain cement ad features very fashionably made up men and women carrying cement sacks and working at a construction site. Is this the image our construction workers send across? They work hard hours trying to ensure two meals for their family and themselves. They don’t get the freedom of expression (through their attire or otherwise) that others do. But this ad, despite being about engineering, chooses to focus on these modelesque people as they swagger back and forth in flowing gowns and buffed up bodies. If only these worker’s profession was viewed in the magnificent light as portrayed by the advertisement.
Moreover, who gets to decide where Indianness ends and Western cognitions begin? The saas-bahu TV shows? Or the individuals who blame indecent attire for atrocities committed? I could be wearing shorts throughout the year and still be very Indian in my thoughts, mannerisms. There are people who sensationalize “item” songs and scrunch up their nose at the sight of a couple being overly affectionate in public. In fact, scrunching their nose is the least they could do; one has to be grateful for not being beaten up by random strangers for acting “out of line” and “not Indian”.
Don’t shun people for living their lives in a happy bubble. Don’t drag out and arrest couples from private rooms in hotels for wanting to be together. In fact don’t arrest people for wanting to have a say about their country or their culture. It would be nice if media representations of an Indian focused on what an Indian actually goes through rather than highlight a paragraph that speaks a contradictory story. We don’t all run around in gowns in palatial houses trying to tease a guy/girl by the scent of our body soaps. Neither do we eat chocolate sloppily so that we get kissed by someone. Its understandable that advertisements try to capitalize on our desires to be modern and open minded. Money is of the essence. But why not do it by actually incorporating what India is today or who an Indian is today. We have progressed so much since the olden times. Why still try to compete with notions that are not really ours? And if we do wish to imbibe those notions, why fight against its manifestation in reality?
Think on it.