Women of Steel

Debarati Palit Singh
Thursday, 28 December 2017

In 2017, we saw several Bollywood actresses taking on their haters and trollers who tried to moral police them for voicing their opinions, or wearing ‘inappropriate’ clothes

A few years back, we called an actress ‘bold’ only if she was unhesitant to wear revealing clothes on screen. Off late ‘bold actresses’ are those who are not afraid to speak up and reveal their mind. They are not scared to take on those who troll them. Social media has become a platform where several actors, especially females, become soft targets for wearing ‘inappropriate’ clothes or are sexually harassed for speaking on religion and politics. Instead of taking the bashing lying down, female actors have begun to support each other and combinedly taking on their haters/trolls. 

Last week, award-winning actress Parvathy was trolled on social media by fans of veteran actor Mammothy after she objected to some of his dialogues in Kasaba. The actress called the dialogues misogynist. Soon Mammothy’s fans threatened to rape and kill her, but Parvathy held her ground.   

During the shooting of Judwaa 2, Taapsee Pannu had uploaded a picture of herself in a floral blue bikini, for which she was trolled by haters, who not only body shamed, but also tried to ‘moral police’ her. However, Taapsee was quick to respond and showed the cynics their place. She tweeted, “When you are against the tide, it’s YOU who needs to stand up for yourself......But don’t forget the smile??” #Judwaa2 #AaTohSahi.”

When one of haters called the picture ‘gandi’, she replied, “Gandi??? I knew I should’ve washed that sand off me. Next time I will take care. I ‘aaplog’ for that??” 

Richa Chadha took a bold and a very verbal stand over the #MeToo campaign. During the campaign that took place in the month of October, when she was asked to comment on the issue, Richa replied, “First, I would like the media to carry a consistent campaign against sexual harassment, verbal or otherwise, not just discuss it in a hurry when it’s a ‘trending’ topic.” 

In her blog, she had said, “Don’t Just Discuss Sexual Harassment When It’s Trending.” An issue like sexual harassment needs a bigger voice to be heard. It was soon shared extensively by her colleagues from the industry. 

In the month of August, Kalki Koechlin had posted a black and white nude picture on Instagram captioning “Half way between shadow and light by @rivabubber #blackandwhite #loveyournakedness.”  Many haters had commented on the post complaining about her crossing limits of nudity. Later, in an interview, she decided to give it back, but calmly, by saying, “As women, we often are depicted through a man’s perspective. But this picture was clicked by a woman photographer. That’s why I found it significant to share the photograph. I think it’s important to celebrate who you are and your body, rather than ponder about what the world will think. I have always believed in the idea of wearing your personality on your sleeve. I have never been ashamed of whatever I do.”

Dangal actress, Fatima Sana Shaikh shared a picture on social media, from a magazine shoot in a swim-wear, earlier this year. She was soon targeted for being a Muslim and sharing an inappropriate image, during the holy month of Ramzan. She was body shamed and slut shamed, but thr actress was unruffled and said that she doesn’t get bothered by such trolling and keeps herself busy with her work. 

Sonam Kapoor, who was shooting for an all female starcast film, Veere Di Wedding, took a potshot and rightly so, on reports which claimed that she and the female cast members didn’t get along. She highlighted the fact that the media always makes up fights between female actors and never between male actors in Bollywood. 

Sonam shared an open letter on Twitter, in which she said, “Dear websites, you can put out as many ‘blind items’ (a.k.a gossip you were too lazy to fact check) as you like pitting women against each other, it may get you clicks but it won’t be the truth. Must you insist on showing this tired patriarchal concept of women cat fighting into our film (which is not about a road trip) as if grown up, intelligent women have nothing better to do. We will continue to be actual friends and try and make a kick ass movie and prove that women can work with each other, get along and have a blast. Because we can, we are and we will continue to. And on schedule. Please keep in mind how outdated, irresponsible and harmful your narrative is and frustrating for a culture of women who actually want to work together. There is no place for it anymore.” 

Earlier, this year, Disha Patani was trolled by Instagram users for wearing an ‘revealing’ black outfit, for an award ceremony. Trollers felt that she was wrong to wear clothes that do not match Indian culture. After reading the hate comments, she replied, “It’s easier to judge a woman on the basis of how much she covers up her skin, but it’s hard to accept your own cheap mentality when you can’t stop staring at those inappropriate areas, which you are asking her to cover. Wake up and start accepting that we are not going to be anybody’s idea of an ‘Indian girl.”

In May 2017, Priyanka Chopra was trolled for wearing a short dress during her meeting with PM Modi. The trollers believed that the dress was indecent and should not have been worn while meeting the man of his stature. Priyanka decided to give it back by posting another picture with her mom, both showing enough leg skin and captioned it as, “Legs for days.... #itsthegenes with @madhuchopra nights out in #Berlin #beingbaywatch.” When her fans saw this post, they couldn’t help but laugh out at the trollers knowing it was the best way to shut them up.

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