Guest Blog: Amrita Rao

Why item numbers are being made a scapegoat?

Amrita Rao

guest post final logoIt’s been far too long that a section of the media have raised a question mark against item numbers in films. They are saying that item numbers provoke men to commit rapes in India.

Though I haven’t been a part of a single item song myself , I choose to protest against this opinion.

Before I launch into any kind of reasoning, I want to make it very clear that I am mortified with what happened to the photo-journalist in the heart of my Mumbai city.

I feel better for her when she chooses to fight her ordeal bravely and get back to normal life. But I fear that her positive attitude and her belief in Nari Shakti might now not be misunderstood by our government who will continue to believe that women of this country are ready to be raped and then move on with their lives.

I’m sure this photo-journalist girl is lucky to be born in a family where she got all the support.

1. There are many Indias within India

Let us also not forget that there are many Indias within India. The reality of the people and especially of the women belonging to these different Indias is drastically different from each other.

If the same girl was born in a remote part of India then she might have been ostracized from her village or would have never got marriage proposals for the rest of her life.

I wholeheartedly support the movement which aims at freeing this city from criminals who target women. Having made my stand clear, I want to talk about why people should stop ‘distracting’ themselves by blaming item numbers for what is happening around them.

2. Should item numbers be banned in an age and time of the internet and satellite television?

We are in 2013 and today even a paanwala or a rickshaw driver (you will be surprised) has either internet on his mobile phone or has access to a television which showcases world entertainment.

I have seen television sets glare out of the shanties or the so-called jhopdas on the streets of Mumbai. Do people need Indian item numbers to provoke a sexual urge in them when they have access to foreign channels on their TV sets where nudity is considered natural? Mumbai's Dharavi: One of world's largest slums

Then by those standards, are we going to ban Indian newspapers from writing about foreign models and actresses because they are ready pose semi-nude at the drop of a hat? Going by that argument, photographs could also have the same perverse impact on a man’s psyche. Further do you think that every man who sees a Bollywood item song would want to rape a woman?

Think about it.

Who are these men who get ideas in their minds that give them the courage and confidence to rape a woman? Do you think these men belong to the same families as you and I? Did they go to school and learn moral science?

These men are a part of the larger reality of India. They belong to the majority that is parched and deprived. Their life is so deprived that they don’t have access to the basic facilities that a human needs to grow up with. They don’t have access to basic education for him to develop a sense of principle and value which makes him distinguish between right and wrong.

3. It’s time to focus about awareness and not item numbers

Lets take our blinkers off from item numbers and accept the reality – we need to spend the wealth of this country towards people who need it the most.

children in a shantyWe need a basic standard of education in municipal or government schools because the children who go to these schools are mostly from deprived homes. Some of them have dads who are drunkards and some of them see their moms getting beaten up at their homes every night. They lead a hand-to-mouth existence.

We need to provide a standard of life for the masses in India and specially for the children of our country for them to grow up as better human beings and yes, that is totally interlinked.

The people of a country are as progressive as its government! We have a section of India which is self-progressive and doesn’t depend of the government to raise their standard of living and quality of life. Let’s also realize that there is a large section of India which is totally at the mercy of governance.

In other countries, sexuality is more in-your-face and even the filmmakers of the country have no inhibition about showing love-making on-screen. Do we want to say that countries who are more liberal about their sexuality witness frequent rapes? Can we argue that because they are so liberal about the way their women dress in their films and even on the roads, it’s not a big deal for the men because they don’t perceive them as provoking or lesser in character?

Both sides of the coin have a flip side so what are we talking about?

Coming back to India and a ‘modern city’ like Mumbai, let us not forget that this photo- journalist was wearing denims and a tee-shirt as the news papers sketches revealed. Hence she was not dressed provocatively nor was she prancing around trigger-happy alone and in a secluded area. She had a male companion with her. Working women in India who travel in local transport do not wear clothes like what are worn in item songs, then why do you think they get victimized or assaulted in buses or trains?

Everything can be routed to the fact that there is no fear of punishment that has been created in the mind of the common man by our judiciary.

When was the last time we heard someone commit a crime and then get adequately punished for it? We don’t know what happened to the men who murdered Keenan and Reuben when the two men actually tried to protect their female friends from eve-teasers. Despite of a massive uproar and protests after the Nirbhaya case, even the fast-track court proves not fast enough to declare punishment.

4. Let’s make tougher laws and a speedier justice system

When was there an instance where we have made an example out of a rapist? Not to my knowledge at least.

We need to give exemplary punishment to rapists so that it serves as a warning to the rest of them. We need to mete out such punishment that would instill the fear of law in criminals. We should make an example out of them. We need a speedier judicial system.

The rapists of the Delhi gang rape case are still being tried even though the case was put in a fast track court by the government. We must remember that justice delayed is justice denied. In India, the judicial process is extremely slow. We should have a faster judicial system which will instil the fear of the law in criminals. So, instead of lamely blaming item numbers, we should ensure that criminals have a fear of the law in them and know in their hearts that if they get caught, they will be made an example. Only then will the number of such crimes decrease.

In school, if a teacher tells a six-year-old that if you steal, you will be punished but after two years, what do you think the kid will do? Of, course steal again!

Justice needs to be served on time for criminals to fear it. In India, its deliverance is painfully slow.

5. It all boils down to corruption in the end

Corruption is the root cause of all evil. There is no fear of the law in some people because they know that they can pay money and absolve themselves from the crimes that they have committed.

I heard Smriti Irani say on TV that Rs 2000 crores was disbursed from the government towards rape victims but none of it have reached the actual victims. That is the reality of this country and we need to fight and change it.

I feel that corruption plays a major role in downgrading a society from good to evil and has started to become a blind spot for us. Bollywood films have been most vocal against corruption and has taken a very strong stand against it. I am so proud of it.

So, instead of looking at item songs after a crime, why don’t we focus on things that should be looked at right now?


Though Amrita Rao has not specified this, her arguments have countered mine in my earlier blog Dear Bollywood, stop making those crappy item numbers first!, published on August 23, 2013

Shortlink of this post -> http://bit.ly/15O6gyd Logo taken from here

9 replies »

  1. All men feel the sexual urge but not all of them rape. I doubt if any external factors can really provoke a man to commit such a crime and that obviously includes item numbers. The real reasons are psychological. Most of the times a rapist’s intention is to humiliate and hurt their victim. They show their contempt through physical violence. Rape for them is way to make up for their underlying feeling of inadequacy and to gain control over their victim rather than a way to achieve sexual gratification. That is why most of the rapes involve physical violence.

    Academics have argued over and over again that anger and a desire to dominate is the primary motive for rape and not sexual fulfillment. its time we stop blaming item numbers and spicy food for rapes.


    • For once let’s forget that item numbers incite men to rape. What I don’t understand is why women, who otherwise epitomise women power, agree to turn into sexual commodities in the garb of item numbers. Can’t a Katrina Kaif or a Priyanka Chopra or a Kareena Kapoor put their foot down and say ‘no, i won’t gyrate to such cheap lyrics’? Don’t they have enough respect for themselves? It’s a shame when women who have the power to say no, can’t say no just so that they remain on the top, make their big money before they hit 35. It’s sickens me. And for people like Amrita Rao, it’s obvious that she won’t take a stand against item numbers coz if she does, she might just miss out on being the next chikni chameli or shiela.


  2. No one is saying Item Songs have a direct relationship with rape and crime but do you agree when little boys on the street sing “Chikni Chameli” and “Sheila ki Jawaani”? Don’t you feel a bit embarrassed? Don’t you wish our lyrics and dance were less vulgar and cheap? I certainly do


  3. when i was in school i was stalked by a fellow for some years and would sing the song “jumma chumma de de” ( i am talking about the 90’s eveteasing/stalking was rampant in kolkata). That song is nothing compared to the vulgar ones we have these days, but at that point of time i really felt horrible and cheap, keeping in mind that the social scenario was very different then. I really feel scared about what kind of passes/ lewd remarks young girls/ women have to bear with these days given the lyrics are so so so terrible, insulting and distasteful.


  4. Appreciate the authors ( one of the nice actress) point of view on few reason and remedies on this issue .

    But :

    1. It will be a wrong assumption to say that Item number ONLY incite rape . The way we can point out many reasons it is one of the reason that shape and fuel the patriarchal , commodification of women , view as a sex object . So first of all there should not be any wrong assumption that anyone blaming item numbers ONLY. Beside numerous reason one of the factor is item number , so no one denying the other reasons , it is like one among 20 reasons rather than ONLY ONE that shape of the thought process .

    2. When Indian society is so regressive and approach towards women, so much class difference, education difference item songs certainly influence encourage the thought process of looking women as sex object and commodity. It is not about moral policing When a top class heroine with a favorite hero groove in item song with some vulgar catchy song then certainly it create influence. Certainly it encourages the regressive thinking of society.

    Starting from tu cheez badi hai mast mast , to chikni chameli all portray women as some cheap commodity ,


  5. Amrita Rao, please explain the purpose of item numbers. Why do women have to be dressed in revealing clothes singing vulgar numbers, exposing their bodies to be pawed by lusty cheering men? Don’t tell me there is a noble , sacred purpose to all of this.
    Whether it is porn or item songs, the purpose is to cater to the beast inside every man to make some quick bucks. Yes there is internet and there is porn and that is why there is an alarming increase in the attack on white tourists in our country.
    Why are you guys aiding the porn industry in reaching places and creating impact . How low will you guys stoop to make money? I think karmically you will realize the extent of the impact you are creating only when you get molested or raped by a 20 something mob that is constantly being fed images of semi naked women gyrating and seemingly enjoying being pawed by men.


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