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Why Are Indian Movies All About Six-Pack Abs And Vengeance?

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Why is Bollywood becoming garbage?

This is perhaps the most simultaneously overrated and underrated question we ask ourselves or friends or anyone while discussing Hindi movies. Actually, we want to ask such questions of Karan Johar, Rohit Shetty, and many top celebrities who have the magic formula to make 100 crore movie with the snap of their fingers. Of course, I can proudly say, that as a writer I believe I can come up with a better script than such billion-rupee-club movie makers. But, coming back to the point of discussion: Bollywood movies.

The Golden Era… And Now

From Dadasaheb Phalke’s “Raja Harishchandra” in 1913 to Ardeshir Irani’s commercial success “Alam Ara” (the first sound film and also the first Bollywood movie with immense success) the Hindi film industry has come a long way. During the Golden era (from 1940 to 1960) Bollywood produced some of the finest movies in its history. For example, “Aurat”, which was the first Indian movie nominated for Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, losing by only a single vote. It is hard to believe that the same industry is now producing the nonsense it does.

If you think the Hindi film industry started deteriorating only a few years ago, it’s not true. Though we are fortunate to watch some good movies ahead of their respective times like “Black Friday”, “Gupt”, “Kaante”, “Khaki” and a few others but they are like the lotus in the mud. The entire industry has only one script. It’s the same revenge story, where parents are killed, sisters are raped, or some there’s some twist like brothers separated due to an antagonist conspiracy. The revenge drama continues in many films, sometimes with horrible dance steps until the entry of Hrithik Roshan!

I can think of only one movie, “Anniyan” that follows the script but does justice to it. It should be noted that this is a Tamil Movie, dubbed for Hindi audiences as “Aparichit”. Even though it is a mediocre movie from one angle I still find it far better than Bollywood’s ‘anti-corruption’ themed films.

The Era Of The Six-Pack Action Man

The pre-2000s era was about biceps and chest, but the post-2000s is all about the six-pack, which became a trend just after the blockbuster “Ghajini”.

As the industry is growing, the quality is decreasing slowly, and now we reach a stage, where we can predict the movie is a waste of money even before watching it. Still, people are going to watch it! For whom? The protagonist? He has a chiseled figure with six-pack abs for sure and belongs to a family that has a close relationship or influence over Bollywood personalities, and does some stunts even Lord Hanuman would be amazed to see. Then there is a female actress who always dreams about the lead hero who doesn’t care about her in the least. Take any Salman Khan movie. If you ask me, the actor seems to forget about acting after “Tere Naam” and “London Dreams” and refuses to come out from his comfort zone even after the disastrous result of “Tubelight” and “Race 3”. I know about the massive box office collection of “Race 3”, but that is no indicator of success. Even his fans are unhappy! Probably, we Indians are the only ones in the entire world who prefer the hero over the content of the movie. All for the sake of our favorite celebrity who is no less than a God to us. And so, we go, we watch and we swear to make it a blockbuster. Cue producers and actors’ chest thumping.

Titanic? We Have Kuch Kuch Hota Hai

Maybe after watching “Titanic”, Karan Johar decided to make a unique love story, and then we got a masterpiece like “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai”. As if “Raja Hindustani” and “Ishq” were not enough for us, we had one more reason to hate the industry. How beautifully Johar made a movie where an eight-year-old girl understands her father’s affection for his college time best friend. Something about this makes me uncomfortable. I’m no fan of love stories, but Titanic I still like. Couldn’t Bollywood make something like this?

(Ranbir Kapoor plays the character of Sanjay Dutt in the biopic. Photo source: Google)

Currently, it feels like Bollywood’s filmmakers are out of ideas and they have two options. First, copying some quality content from regional or foreign films. And second, biopics. The immense success of “Sanju” could inspire movies based on people who don’t have any contribution towards the society. Though every life has a story, I think biopics are meant for those people who have made the nation proud, yet somehow they have been forgotten and ignored. That’s why we have movies based on Sanjay Dutt, Arun Gawli, Haji Mastan, Abdul Latif and the list goes on.

One thing to remember though is that the makers of these movies are not the sole culprits. We audiences are responsible too because we prefer masala entertainment instead of quality content.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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