A video of Jim Sarbh and Kangana Ranaut at an apparent Cannes afterparty recently floated, where Jim Sarbh made this joke:
I’d rather be raped by 12 prostitutes than touch alcohol and the Punjabi says ‘Me too, I didn’t know that was an option.
And Kangana Ranaut, who had openly condemned Salman Khan's infamous rape comment, laughed along, leading to a backlash from Twitterati.
However, in conversation with ScoopWhoop, Jim Sarbh clarified by saying:
I'm sorry the joke offended you. The joke is not about committing sexual violence, but about men being stupid and blowing situations out of propotions: one condeming, the other accepting. I am sorry it is upsetting, I will be more careful in the future.
However, this incident brings to light a very important issue - rape is such a normal part of our society, that no one thinks twice before cracking a 'rape joke', or using it in a statement.
Like Salman Khan did, when he shared his experience of training for Sultan:
When I used to walk out of the ring, after the shoot, I used to feel like a raped woman.
In fact, on numerous occasions, our politicians have justified rape and rapists!
Rape jokes are not funny, they are insulting and humiliating. Unfortunately, Bollywood doesn't seem to understand that. We keep making light of such a gruesome act of violence, that it passes off as normal.
We have made stalking an art form - and I don't even have to hunt for cinematic instances to support my statement.
Remember how Akshay Kumar pursues Bhumi Pednekar in Toilet: Ek Prem Katha?
Citing it as a transformation from bad to good behavior, Akshay Kumar excused the behavior with this statement:
In films there are many things that are shown, here my character, Keshav, was trying to take a photo of Bhumi’s character, Jaya. This is wrong, but I can’t show all the good things only, right?
Just like actor Riteish Deshmukh and Vivek Oberoi defended the movie Grand Masti, by saying it was an adult comedy.
It may have been an adult comedy, but the brilliance of this dialogue is hard to digest at any age:
"Balatkar se yaad aaya, meri biwi kaha hai"
We also had this stellar speech from the movie 3 Idiots, because what is 'balatkar; if not a word to arouse laughter.
And the scene from R... Rajkumar that used custodial rape by a corrupt policeman as just a passing occurrence. Because clearly, that's how normal it is.
Of course, Shah Rukh Khan, the king of romance, had the perfect dating advice in Kal Ho Na Ho.
Just like the cinematic wonder Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahaani gave this 'explanation' to the victim to forgive her rapists:
Rape has also been cited as just another tool to get a 'job', like the character Munir said in Shootout at Wadala:
"Main kuch bhi karne ke liya tayar hoon... Rape bhi, agar item achhi hai toh"
This statement, of course, brings to mind the other Bollywood trend - 'item songs'. I am not going to comment on the lyrics of the song till we address this phrase in itself.
Bollywood actresses dancing, even gyrating, on any song, are not objects - they are not items.
And yet this phrase is normally used, as YouTube playlists and even by leading publications, whenever a leading lady does a dance number.
Which brings me to the lyrics of these songs, that are more than problematic.
Bollywood's music industry seems to be in an alcoholic haze and a rape frenzy, where 'chaar bottle vodka' is as common as 'Ban mitra di whore'.
In fact, from the start, Hindi songs have made eve-teasing, stalking, and harassment a euphemism for love and attraction. Simply put, "Hothon pe na, dil mein haan hoiga".
As one of the largest medium to influence impressionable minds, the normalcy of such practices is not acceptable.
And then, of course, are the comic gags. Like forcibly kissing a girl to stop her from talking is acceptable, hell even funny.
Just like the concept of male rape is always considered a comic relief. Even in a movie as recent as Badrinath ki Dulhania.
Rape is NOT A JOKE. Making a RAPE JOKE IS NOT FUNNY. You are only propagating rape culture that can have serious consequences.
While actual rape may not have been glorified by Bollywood, and while rapists may have always been shown as villains - misogyny, stalking, and promoting only machoism as manliness, and insensitive statements are contributing to rape culture. In a big way.
It is high time that Bollywood celebrities and Bollywood takes note of this.