The skewed gender politics of the average item song, in which a woman performs for a group of men, is a reflection of the Hindi film industry’s culture of normalising sexual abuse and the careless consumption of women’s bodies. Rarely essential to the narrative, the item song declares that it is permissible, and even natural, to cavalierly use women’s bodies for entertainment.

Shabana Azmi pointed out the problem with the idea that songs in which women perform their sexuality for men are a celebration of female sexuality. “When a girl or a leading lady says it’s alright, I want to celebrate my sensuality’ I have no problem with that. I think that’s wonderful. But under the pretense of ‘celebrating your sensuality’ what you are actually doing is surrendering to the male gaze and objectifying yourselves because the business of cinema is of images,” Azmi said.

“Is it time to bury the item song? The answer can only be yes.” Damini Kulkarni Scroll.in

Posted by Natasha

Natasha received her MA in Literature and Culture in 2008 from Oregon State University. Currently she lives in Oregon with her husband and cats.

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