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Objectification Of Women in Bollywood Songs

Objectification of women in Bollywood songs is not an ancient concept. It has not only existed since we can remember, but it is surprising how it has been accepted by us. Until this time, even I could not pinpoint what was wrong with these songs because I have been listening to them since childhood and have become immune to them. Bollywood has played an integral part in building our image of women, yet limiting it to, in most cases, an “intem/cheez/maal,” which men use as their source of entertainment. In most songs, like “Fevicol Sae,” which has around two fifty million views on youtube, lyrics such as “…Main to tandoori murgi hu yaar, Gatka le saiyyan alcohol se..” sexualizes women by limiting them to being” sexy” that man can “sexually desire/eat” reflecting that women are objectified through being excessively preoccupied with their appearance. Martha Nussbaum (1995, 257) has identified seven features involved in treating a person as an object. In this case, one that fits perfectly is an instrumentality, which is “the treatment of a person as a tool for the objectifier’s purposes.” And many Bollywood songs reflect this by limiting women to sexual beings whose only purpose is to be desired by men.

The following blog from Instagram reiterates this concept. The caption is: How conveniently we use these terms to define a woman in a song, which actually are derogatory and humiliating when said in reality. What’s more on the list? #SheThePeople.

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The blatant objectification of women is something that producers remain unapologetic about and this gives a license to the "masses" to follow suit. The reinforcement of women appeasing to the male gaze is a recurrent theme not just in Bollywood songs but entire films and this has influenced the public mindset and opinions to a large extent. Along with the objectification, the humiliation and pure disrespect of women have led to multiple sexual crimes countrywide because it promotes such a mindset ( viewing women as objects ). Moreover, despite a definite effort to change the depiction of women in the Indian cinemas in the last one or two decades, the mainstream movies continue to fail to portray women as balanced…


The objectification of women in Bollywood can be explained well by Laura Mulvey's concept of the male gaze, i.e., the depiction of women from a masculine perspective that shows women as mere sexual objects for the pleasure of the male heterosexual viewer. Such characterizations of women in Bollywood songs, especially item songs, are reflections of the sexual imbalances prevalent in society, which have been split between the active-male and the passive-female. So, the characters of the female actresses and dancers are created to exhibit a "looked-at-ness,"

Plus, it is necessary to note that the women have no significance as characters themselves; their characters are defined in terms of the male characters, e.g., a love interest of the male lead. This…


I agree with Abdul Majid that item songs have become an integral part of every 'successful' Bollywood movie without which a film would be incomplete. I also agree with the author of this post about how we as a society have come to accept such portrayal of women in these songs. However, it is important to note that some women see item songs as a move towards empowering themselves. For example, Professor once discussed in class that Sushmita Sen saw doing item songs as an act of empowerment. Thus, it is important for us to be mindful that feminism has different branches and perspectives and intersectionality plays a huge role in it as well. Although the words and acts used…


Unknown member
Nov 28, 2021

One of the key factors that led to its rise has been the "item song" culture which now seems to be mandatory for every filmmaker in bollywood. Songs such as "Munni Badnam hoi", "Sheela ki jawani" do not only objectify women but also perpetuate the misogynist mindset. And sadly, Pakistanis filmmakers have also followed the trend for the sake of more money and business.

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