Tuesday, 23 September 2014
An open letter to Deepika Padukone, the flag-bearer against Media Tyranny
An open letter to Deepika Padukone, the flag-bearer against Media Tyranny
Since writing open letters is the new flavour of the season, please allow me to share a few thoughts with you, the new ray of hope for all the victimized celebrities…and more so, for being a role model for the larger cause of womanhood.
As you’re aware, there has always been this vicious love-hate relationship between celebs and media. We can debate this relationship, but let’s not make it a man-woman question. It’s less to do with dignity of women/womanhood/manhood but more about defining boundaries of this media-celeb equation.
Media and Celebs have also been perfect fodder for each other. Together they drive two of the biggest industries in the new multi-media world. Exhibitionism and Voyeurism. The success of Facebook, reality shows like Big Boss are all prime examples of such Exhibitionism and Voyeurism working hand-in-glove, in perfect tandem. The celebs exhibit, the media laps it up like a voyeur. The celebs exhibit more, the media barges in further. One fine day, the celeb suddenly develops cold feet/becomes coy/decides to spark a controversy. Or alternatively, Media forgets its boundaries and voyeuristically ventures into the personal space.
This is a larger question for media and the celebs to set their working equations right. Clearly set those terms and conditions of play. You will admit that the Peekaboos, the Oops moments, the malfunctions are not just the figments of a perverse media. But Celebs too have (at times) an equal role to play in scripting these ‘moments’. Some scripts work, some don’t. And if at times they don’t, it would be inappropriate to blame it on womanhood and lack of dignity. It will be more about certain boundaries and code of conduct not being followed – accidentally or deliberately. These are some standard perils of your job and knowing your intelligence, I am sure you are completely aware of it.
Since it took you 7 years since your debut, to wake up and feel offended about some outrageous pics and captions, can I please encourage you to actually have the courage (and selflessness) to take this ahead full-throttle. These pics have been on the web since always (perhaps your 3G/wi-fi connection was weak earlier) with flattering/unflattering pics of you and most of your colleagues. Where were you Deepika when the media last ‘framed’ your colleague Katrina during her private moments in Ibiza? What was your stand then?
Regardless, it’s never too late to start a revolution. Please pick the cudgels now and bring this to a logical conclusion. Please set up a new ‘Do not Publish without permission’ code of conduct between Media and the Celebs. Push for a new protocol, a bill, a law. Now that you’ve ignited this, please fight this out young lady. You owe this to all your brethren in tinseltown and to the larger cause of Womanhood! No?
Deepika, to reiterate once again – this is a celebrity-media question and about the perils of your job. It is not really a womanhood question. It involves your male colleagues as well. Most of them have been under the scanner as well. As with the ‘leak’ above – their paunches have been commented upon, their wrinkles, surgeries and botox analysed, their hair transplants/wigs/weaving minutely dissected and deliberated upon, their affairs closely tracked and chronicled.
Please don’t equate Media with the lecherous men on the road who ogle, whistle and try to grope and paw without your consent. The media simply captures you in a space where you’re fully aware you’ll be clicked and shot extensively. When some of your colleagues leave for an event in their skimpy outfits (and at times conveniently missing the inner-wear), they are fully aware of the 1,000 flashbulbs awaiting their arrival. The media ain’t a perverse animal on the prowl that has planted spycams in our households or is capturing demure housewives in titillating positions while doing their household chores. The ‘Yellow’ media is simply where it is supposed to be. Covering your multiple movie promotion events and success parties.
That some of your colleagues still choose to take a risk or ‘dare to bare’ is amongst the necessarily survival skills required for your industry. For every 1 principled, sure of her-talent, dignified lady like you, there are at least 10 others, willing to compromise, dare, bare and take the short-cuts. So it’s cut-throat, cutting-edge necklines and I am sure we’re all pretty aware of these state of affairs. And hence all my admiration and encouragement for someone as independent, principled and talented as you …who has steadily created such a wonderful niche for herself in the industry by virtue of powerhouse performances in back-to-back hits.
My only humble request to you would be to pick up the cudgels and fight as a ‘celebrity’, as a ‘youth icon’ when you think your modesty has been outraged, or some of the photography terms and conditions have not been met. Please don’t play a victim and cry ‘womanhood’ as it takes away the sheen out of all that you've achieved so far. It also dilutes the enormity from some serious and heinous crimes being infested on women across the nation. Female infanticide, dowry deaths, khaap panchayats, child abuse, gang rapes, molestation at public places, prostitution rackets, cyber-crimes and domestic violence to name a few.
If you have lived by the dictum of ‘If you have it, flaunt it’, please be brave enough to face and fight the clicks (some flattering and some unflattering) by virtue of your ‘Youth Icon’ status and not on the crutches of ‘Womanhood’. If not leading Media houses like TOI, I am sure you’re aware of the plethora of high-definition cameras or smart phones that will be zooming in and capturing you, their favorite celebrity for their wallpapers and screen savers. I am sure you are super-intelligent and completely aware of these risks of your job. As they say, ‘the risks that come with the territory’.
Hence Deepika if you actually decide to fight and take it up for the entire industry, fight like a true warrior. Fight for the entire industry and even your male co-stars. Fight for your principles, values and moral conduct. Fight these giant media houses (who think they are indispensable and can arm-twist any celeb) and compel them to change their business models. Not a single snap to be published without the celebrity’s formal consent to do so. Not a single cheap caption and headline either.
I am sure Deepika you have the gumption to fight this in your own capacity as a ‘gutsy celebrity’, without having to seek any further support from ‘Womanhood’. The ‘Womanhood’ already has a lot going against it in this country. I am sure we can let it focus on much larger issues plaguing the nation.
“I am a woman, and I have breasts”. “I am a man, and I have developed a paunch”. “Damn, I am a man, and I have worked hard to create a perfectly sculpted cleavage.”
I am sure you get the drift Deepika. Please leave the man-woman noise out of it. We don’t really need pseudo-feminism to fight this one out. Sheer conviction and audacity of your fight against "Not to be clicked without my consent” should suffice. Please go ahead, fight it, close it! And please do not wait for it, until your next movie is up for release.