By Mehar Haleem:
“Chadti jawani teri bebas ho gayi”
The line haunted me long after the song was over.
It’s rather surprising how a single lyric from an irrelevant song can leave such a hammering impression but it did. Long after the song on the radio was over, long after the radio jockey talked about ‘small ad breaks’ and then the station proceeded to advertisements. Long after the car ride to school had come to an end. The line stayed with me throughout the day, playing itself over and over again like a broken recorder. The line and all it represented.
Now if you’re not familiar with Hindi, the literal translation of this would probably be along the lines of “your growing youth has now become helpless.” Frankly, on the face of it, it doesn’t sound that bad. But if you do, unfortunately, happen to pause and think about it, even if it’s just for a second, you’ll realise just how weak the ‘weaker sex’ is always painted .
This single lyric is like a telescope into a mentality so entrenched in the very heart of society. The idea that female sexuality has to be contained at all costs, and upon maturation will accumulate like the water from a dripping air conditioner. And one fine day, this stagnant water in a bowl will reach its breaking point and will overflow and that’s where I guess the male singer proceeds to sing about how all these efforts have been proven futile because she goes at night and sleeps in her own bed.
So where do these gloriously graphic lyrics really lead us? What does the underage boy think when this song plays? What do fifth graders think when they hear these lyrics and understand its meaning in bits and pieces, depending upon how much of the language they understand. How does this single lyric shape the psyche of the present as well as the many generations to come?
When you come to think about it, all the politically correct speeches made in the corridors of high school debates and all the inspiring talks given by politicians on gender equality – all these don’t really reach the people it should reach. What reaches so many people? The lyrics of these songs broadcast on the radio. The video that accompanies the lyrics. The advertisements drawing parallels between the ripening of a mango and the “accumulating sexuality of a woman.” Both of which are implied to have a similar destiny – to be devoured.
Growing boys from well-off houses have a shockingly similar view of girls, especially girls who drink. It’s just that they do a better job at hiding this. The girls on the other hand get the ever eternal message that all they are ever going to be is an object. An object with a market price not marked in rates but in Louis Vuittons and Guccis.
My idea is not to preach, I’ve danced to these songs myself – but just stop for once and have a look at what we are promoting. Just to contemplate what our playlist is actually saying, the ideas it communicates and the mentality it fosters. That’s all .