Akshay Kumar, who has positioned himself as a crusader for women empowerment with films like Toilet-Ek Prem Katha, Padman and the recent Mission Mangal, seems to have undone all his good work with his latest misogynist cringe-fest. A song from his upcoming release Housefull 4 titled Ek Chumma has rather made us call him out for its derogatory lyrical paste.
The argument that comes forth is that lyrics of any song are only up for grabs as entertainment and do not reflect an individual’s conscious stand in the society. However, an actor who is adored by millions in the country, propagating a message that has the potential to be reflected in real life is the least of all expectations. Art doesn’t exist in vacuum. Only recently, we saw how a crazed man – who hero-worshipped Kabir Singh – took a woman’s life.
The disturbing lyrics go
Oh madam goggles wali
Don’t go yoon deke gaali
Haan gundon se chhudaya hai
Maine tujhe bachaya hai
Ek chumma to banta hai
To begin with, a guy who saves a girl from goons, and demands a kiss in exchange for it, speaks of the mentality women are trying to escape from. Does Akshay realise that there are people imitating him and this act can also make up for an attempt of the same that has been shown in the music video. Will his fans understand the difference between being a hero and a pervert? Will he? Is Akshay Kumar suggesting that any sort of heroism comes with strings attached? That the hero is only the good guy because of a reward. That’s much like saying that one should be good only because there might be a judgement day because god is watching and not because one ought to be good for the sake of it.
On one hand, the National Award-winning actor is trying to normalise issues like menstruation and Women in STEM, and on the other he wants to send the message to men that women are sitting on trees waiting to be rescued? Or does it mean that no matter how capable women become, they can never truly stop being objects?
It seems like Akshay missed out on the part where he keeps training his daughter to be a strong woman, with workout videos and setting an example of good parenting. As an actor with a mammoth influential platform, he has the capability of changing people’s mindset. The last thing we need in 2019 is a man telling a woman that she needs to kiss him because he saved her from goons.
And lastly a word for Kriti Sanon, who tried the oldest logical fallacy defence in memory – whataboutery. She said: “How is it regressive? The boys are saying [those lines] to their partner, not to a stranger. If Ek Chumma was disrespectful towards women, I would have spoken up."
"In Tareefan, why was it not pointed that male models were being treated the way mainstream treats female models? In Coca Cola [song from Luka Chuppi], I was asked why the girl was being put down [through the lyrics]. But my character too was saying the same lines to the guy. How is it okay for a guy to be teased, but there's so much talk when a girl is being teased?"
Dear Kriti, we will have that talk when women start hounding men down empty roads or start jerking off near them on buses and trains. We will have that discussion of false equivalence when we live in a matriarchal world where misandrists harass men for real.