A woman, tugging her shirt up to cover a hint of cleavage, walks around the streets in Delhi. The male gaze follows her wherever she goes, from the metro station to Connaught Place to roads, stairs, streets – everywhere in the city.
As the video progresses, the woman stares back at those ogling her. As she shouts, screams and rages, the music grows faster and the canvas darker.
After a point, she becomes oblivious of her clothing.
In this new music video, fast-paced acid techno beats coupled with a dark theme depicts the angst of women living in Delhi. The music is by Hashback Hashish/ Ashish Sachan and the track is called Danse which was made much before the video.
A group of artists teamed up later to interpret the track in their own way. While Surabhi Tandon directed the video, Nitish Kanjilal edited it. Taruna Hooda worked as a DoP along with the Kanjilal and Tandon. Puneet Jewandah stars in the video and also choreographs it with the director.
According to Tandon, the camera shows multiple perspectives.
“The camera shifts perspectives between what you’re watching – either from the POV of a man, or her POV, or that of a general observer,” she told LiveWire.
For Sachan, the music is an outpouring of the emotions he felt as he observed: “the male gaze in Indian society”.
“When Surabhi and I sat together, both of us agreed to address this issue. I also wanted to somehow capture the emotions which went behind the making of the song,” he said.
However, he says, they didn’t want to make the video preachy. “We didn’t want to suggest a solution to the situation. This can be perhaps assessed as our own perspective of the issue. That’s how I look at it,” he added.
According to him, the video also seems to seek answers from the viewers.”Towards the end, if you see, she looks at the camera and seems to be asking, ‘what do I do now?’ to the viewers.”
Moreover, Tandon says the intention is to make viewers acknowledge that such a problem exists and for women to relate to it.
“The video, at the end of the day, is one that is an artistic/creative expression of an idea that is, in my opinion, of concern to all women (but should also be to men). It need not offer a ‘solution’ because it wants you, the viewer, to first of all, be concerned/aware of the problem. Recognise it. And if you’re a woman, then relate to it. In any case, what is the solution?” Tandon said.
Generation after generation of men are taught that there is nothing wrong is viewing women as objects, cat-calling them and harassing them. That harassment is prevalent everywhere, as every Indian woman has had to live through such a nightmare at one time or another, or even on a daily basis.
Bollywood films too have played their part in perpetuating this stare game, as a lot of content over the years has been created only to cater to the male gaze. Our ads are still full of stereotypes of women. Gender sensitivity is thrown out of the window – the woman is always given meaning by how the male character views her.
It’s clearly time for change.
Featured image credit: YouTube screengrab