As the very articulate Rahul Bose settles down for a quick chat after the 'Soldier for Women' press conference, he looks a little bothered with someone smoking in the room. He quickly adds that he is okay with people smoking but he doesn't have to inhale their smoke. Actor-activist Rahul Bose has very strong opinions and he tells us why he thinks item songs are totally superfluous. Excerpts from the interview:
Women-centric films like 'Kahaani' and 'English Vinglish' have become as popular as mainstream Bollywood films. What's your take on that?
Women-centric films can still be about the exploitation of women in terms of the story. Just because it is a women-centric film doesn't mean that the director respects women. It is not enough to have women-centric roles; we don't even need women-centric roles. As long as we have cinema that has an inherent respect for women and their place in society, I am okay with that.
Having said that, these films have certainly busted the myth that only men can sell tickets which is a patriarchal truth. If by these ways you start busting myths, it is very welcome. But I will still be cautious about the content: suppose you have a film which has one big item song, it is a women-centric film but it is so disrespectful to a woman.
You feel item songs are disrespectful to women?
First of all, it is disrespectful to the filmmaker. The filmmaker says that at this point of time I know you don't want to watch my film, so I am quickly going to shove in a half-naked girl to dance, so that you will watch my film. So I think it is a deeper self-admission of a filmmaker that he or she has failed.
You support the Censor Board's limitation on item songs?
No, I don't believe in banning anything and I don't believe in cutting anything. Item songs must be made and filmed if the director and the actors want it. You don't have to watch it. In India, there is no nuance, if I say I think item songs is the failure of a filmmaker, it is immediately interpreted as I want item songs banned. I am saying I won't watch it, if you want to go watch it, go watch it. They should have the freedom to make it. If you start banning things then where do you stop?
I am just trying to increase the awareness about the total superfluity of item songs.
For a feminist like you, do you think we are moving forward if a Vidya Balan is compared to a Shah Rukh Khan?
I think those kind of comparisons defeat the idea of feminism. Feminism doesn't look at comparing stuff, it looks at realizing your own potential. Speak about Vidya Balan in her own context and the fact that she is wonderful.
Referring to the 'Soldier for Women' campaign, Rahul Bose explains:
The greatest soldiers for women are not the ones who act as a shield. It is the ones who stand beside their women: as soldiers, as a rock.
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