By Joginder Tuteja
Neetu Chandra’s ‘woman-on-woman’ photo shoot has literally created a storm. Leave aside the protests (or the lack of them), the fact remains that the pictures have been one and all (though quite a few also deny having looked at them, but more on that later) and the Garam Masala girl who got ‘lucky’ with an unlucky number ’13’ quite recently has now moved up from a ‘Traffic Signal’ to Page 1 across National Dailies as well as prime slots on news channels.
Joginder Tuteja catches up with quite a few industry men and tries to gauge their reaction on Neetu’s photo shoot. While doing so, we came across an interesting trend. While majority of top line actors (names withheld) either refrained from commenting at all or evaded the query by stating – ‘I am yet to look at the pictures’, quite a few Bollywood filmmakers were game to share their views around the photo shoot. This is what they had to say:
Suparn Verma – “More woman power! She looks fabulous and the pictures are aesthetically done. I think the moral police should take a nap!”
Ken Ghosh – “It’s quite an interesting concept! Great going!”
Rohit Jugraj – “I think it’s very awesome and gutsy on Neetu’s part to go ahead with such bold and sensuous pictures. Times are changing and we should pay heed.
They say cinema is a reflection of the changing society and if the world can have a festival like Moondance (a gay and dance film festival), we can at least celebrate freedom of expression in cinema. I have always had a script about two women, a pack of cigarettes and a road trip in mind, though that script of mine is not about lesbian characters but does have an intimate moment between the girls.
Photo shoots like Neetu’s only prove to me that audience is ready, howsoever niche it may be. But the question is – ‘Are we filmmakers ready to handle such themes deftly with maturity and sensitively?”
Randeep Hooda – “Neetu’s pictures are very hot. It’s in some form or the other every man’s fantasy. It’s about time we started opening up about it (smiles). It’s a brave shoot so cheers to her!”
Jag Mundhra – “I just checked one such picture on the net. I think it is quite beautiful and provocative. Her body language is defiant; celebrating raw female sexuality. It says – ‘As an artist I am ready to push the boundaries’. It defies the viewer to do the same. I think it is very symbolic than sexy, just like the PETA ads.”
Rahul Dholakia – “I saw the shoot, and while I thought it was an interesting concept and a good marketing tool, I don’t think we should give it any more importance than that. If this picture is generating any kind of controversy, I don’t think it should. It’s bold but not obscene; it’s about two women, maybe lesbians. So what?”
Piyush Jha – “Everyday I get surprised at how much further and further we are pushing the envelope of morality in India. While I am not aesthetically riveted by the pictures, I am impressed by the challenge it throws at the so called ‘norms’ of our society.”
Madhu Mantena – “I am in London and haven’t seen the pictures yet. However, would like to meet them together!”
Vivek Agnihotri – “We are living in time of media clutter and to get mind share, media must titillate; so a shoot like this is nothing novel.
Also competition is so tough in our industry that lots of people are willing to go to any extent to be noticed. What can be a better way than shock the audiences? The picture meets both these aspirations. Neetu is talented and I am sure she is capable of shocking more with her talent and soon she will realize it.”
Shirish Kunder – “Awesome. In fact I thought it was a little restrained. They should have gone out a little more.”
Navdeep Singh – “Girl-girl action is always very welcome. These pictures seemed tasteful enough. There is a need and space for some eroticism in our lives. And when it’s girl-on-girl, it’s even better!!!”
Robby Grewal – “Neetu has liked doing the shoot and I have liked looking at the pictures. So where does the question of protests or morality come into picture?
At the end of the day when an artist and a consumer are comfortable with something, there should not be a problem with everyone else.
And come on, it’s not the first time that such pictures have come on print, so why are we making a hue and cry?”