Item numbers in Bollywood songs have existed ever since I can remember. Many of us have sung and danced to it without even taking in the full meaning of such songs. But recently, there has been a shift in attitude towards these specifically objectifying dance numbers and people, more importantly, B-Town celebrities have been taking a firm stand against these dance numbers and we’re sort of glad. Let me clarify, a woman dancing alone wearing a glittering outfit does not necessarily classify as an objectifying dance number. What people do not seem to realize is that it is not always about the person performing the dance, but also about how impressionable these songs can be to a whole other economic stratum. There are a lot of other parts that come into play, like the lyrics of the song for instance. Film royalty Karan Johar had quite a lot to say on this topic while talking to Film Companion.
I have gone on record and apologized that I have had item songs in my feature films and I don’t think I would do it again. I have no problem with like a girl dancing, that’s not an item number. An item song is when she is objectified and when there are men lusting for her like ‘Chikni Chameli’. I don’t think I would ever do that again. It’s never gonna happen in a Dharma Productions film and I will make sure of it. Like ‘Desi Girl’ is not an item song but ‘Chikni Chameli’ is. And, I don’t think I would do it.
Along with having produced movies in which there have been item numbers, Karan also admitted to having sung these songs when he was younger without any qualms, not having understood the meaning of it then.
I have grown up singing to ‘Khambe Jaisi Khadi Hai, Ladki Hai Ya Chadi Hai’ and I didn’t even realize what those words are. Then you suddenly sing that song and you are like, ‘Oh My God! This is so misogynistic’. And, it’s absolutely ridiculous that we have done it and a lead actor like Aamir Khan had danced on that song. He himself, on my show, has actually said that ‘I did this and I apologise like I wouldn’t do it again’. We don’t even think what these words are. Like I’ve no problem with brilliantly written and a beautiful song. Just the way how Gulzar saab wrote the songs of ‘Omkara’. They are stunning! ‘Zabaan Pe Lagaa, Lagaa Re, Namak Ishq Ka’ – is beautiful. Even ‘Bidi Jalaile’. It’s the way you picturize a song like that. You’ve got to kind of make sure that you don’t because eventually we are a very impressionable medium.
But apparently, Katrina Kaif who danced on Chikni Chameli had something entirely different to say about the matter while talking to DNA.
I feel very differently on the matter. I feel it’s all down to the individual who is performing the song. Madonaa, who I’m sure we all know of, I don’t think she is feeling objectified. I don’t think Beyonce who performs in a swimsuit on stage is feeling objectified. It’s all about how you feel while you are performing that song. I can tell you, I never felt objectified in ‘Chikni Chameli’. I enjoyed that song. I enjoyed the dance, I enjoyed what I was doing. I didn’t even for a moment felt objectified or brought any kind of wrong eyes on me.
While both have expressed their views on the same, what do you guys think?