Cinema is probably one of the major influences on children today. The impact and hold of cinema on the audience has become all the more vital in today’s times. But the quality of that impact can carry a huge cost for society. The main focus here is towards the type of songs especially the item numbers being aired on television. Children are the keenest viewers of the “idiot box” and they love to sing and dance to such numbers mainly because of the enthusiasm carried with it as they are too tender to understand the depth. In this scenario, when they are witnesses to item numbers filled with objectionable lyrics, it reflects a very bad side of cinema.
Following the Nirbhaya incident, and on popular demand, the CBFC decided to have stricter rules for airing item songs on TV. However, unless the industry changes from within, these rules won’t have much teeth. The approach of an actor who agrees to perform such a number is the major driving factor that can bring about a change. An informed decision rather than a selfish one must be taken with a rational mind while agreeing to dance on absurd lyrics. A celebrity is a public figure who’s every activity and action is captured for a public review, henceforth bestowing upon them a huge responsibility of delivering the right content to the public. Self-regulation is very important for the film industry.
Veteran actor Shabana Azmi has opined strongly that an actor must make an informed choice taking into consideration many factors before signing up to perform such songs. She went on to say “I think if a top most heroine is singing ‘I am tandoori murgi, swallow me down with alcohol’, it’s not a laughing matter. It’s a serious issue… One person wrote the song, a few more got it made but it was watched by crores of people. They also saw their 6-year old kids singing and dancing on it. Don’t you have a responsibility? It’s not fun.”
The celebs must be aware that when they do a song like that it is leading to the sexualisation of children and there are four-year-old girls dancing at weddings to really bad songs. It is extremely demoralizing to see innocence of children at stake when they perform to such lyrics which are totally beyond an acceptable limit. Reality shows provide a great platform for nurturing the talent of kids but at the same time, their self-identity becomes a critical issue. And the effect is not only limited to those who perform the reality shows but those too who are eager viewers of the same.
“One person wrote the song, a few more got it made but it was watched by crores of people. They also saw their 6-year old kids singing and dancing on it. Don’t you have a responsibility? It’s not fun.” - Shabana Azmi
Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who starred in films like Gangs of Wasseypur and Kahaani, has also expressed his satisfaction about the decision taken by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to be stricter about item songs, saying “This ban on item songs is very necessary. If you say that TV is a family entertainer, then there are kids as well in a family and don’t learn anything other than this… The entire day they only watch such songs and dances and then they react in a similar manner.”
Item songs promote and provoke humiliation and completely demean our values and culture. Filmmakers cannot escape from the fact that such item songs reinforce negative, dangerous, patriarchal points of view in the tender young minds of children.
What’s our call to action? Make sure your children do not watch item songs. Do not use your child as exhibition piece in family events, forcing them to mimic adult dance moves. Do not encourage your children to sing out lyrics they don’t know the meaning of, that you wouldn’t approve if spoken in prose.