Mukesh Khanna Tried To Clarify How His #MeToo Comments Were Not Sexist. Sorry Shaktimaan, You Just Made It Worse
As a woman who believes feminism is the need of the hour, my opinions are in a constant state of tussle with someone or the other. For example, there’s your garden variety social media troll who’ll keep tagging me in random news about men being victimised by women to prove that #MenToo. I throw up a sad smile because imagine how full his notification tab would be if I started tagging him in all the news items where women suffered in some way or the other because of their gender. But here’s the thing. The biggest detriment to gender equality aren’t the people who’re unequivocally clueless about it. It’s the people, more specifically, the men who claim to be respectful of women, and wanting a better world for them, but are still soft supporters of sexism. Much like our very own Shaktiman and Bhishma Pitamaah actor, Mukesh Khanna, whose recent statements about #MeToo have tainted his cape.
ICYMI, veteran actor, who gave India its first superhero, was rather supportive of defusing the ‘Laxmmi Bomb’. Meaning, he was campaigning for the makers of the film to drop the word ‘bomb’ from the title because it seemed derogatory to the name of the deity. But alongside that, he was also mired in controversy when a 45-second clip of an old interview where he gave out his two cents about the #MeToo wave in India, went viral. There’s a lot of despicable opinion packed in that small clip. But to summarise it, Mukesh Khanna claims #MeToo originated because women began working and strived to be equal to men. He said a few things about how women need to take care of their own safety at their workplaces. He claimed women working affected children who are not being looked after, and have to watch Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi with their caretakers. Which I’d agree is horrible, because really? That show?
The point is, if you do something bad, you get taught a lesson by Shaktiman. And if you say something sexist in 2020, you’re going invoke criticism from people.
And this really hurt Mukesh Khanna’s feelings. Not in the way we’d like, where he’d listen to himself talk in the video and realise he was espousing sexism, this making a huge mistake. He was hurt because he felt misunderstood, and heartbroken that we would have doubts about the immense respect he had for women. Furthermore, he adds that he isn’t afraid of being in the bad books of women or women’s groups because his own life is like an open book and anyone can see how much he respects women.
In fact, he wrote a couple of more posts on his Instagram to clarify his stance. In the first post, Khanna shared a clipping of an older video he had made about the #MeToo movement, accompanied by a long-ass caption on what he actually meant by his comments. I read the caption, and waited for the video to offer more clarity, but it was weirdly only the introductory bit that he had edited and posted. Strike One.
Also Read: Mukesh Khanna AKA Shaktimaan’s Sexist Comments On The #MeToo Movement Have Us Annoyed AF. Take The Cape From Him
I think he may have gotten the hint that in our country, people don’t read things. So he posted another video on Monday morning, where he spoke into the camera the very same things he wrote in the earlier post’s caption. For starters, Mukesh Khanna clarified that the 45-second clip that went viral was part of a bigger video which would offer more context and make us say “Sorry Shaktiman” to him for misunderstanding him. He said he respects women who are working today, holding big positions in every field including government offices and going into space, and he never meant that women should not work. According to him, the context of the clip’s original video was him stating what problems would arise if women stepped out of the house to work. #MeToo was one of them; because women needed to be careful and protect themselves in their place of work. Another problem that arose was that children were left alone at home with caretakers.
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मुझे सचमुच हैरानी हो रही है कि मेरे एक स्टेट्मेंट को बहुत ही ग़लत तरीक़े से लिया जा रहा है। मुझे औरतों के ख़िलाफ़ बताया जा रहा है। जितनी इज़्ज़त मैं नारियों की करता हूँ शायद ही कोई करता होगा। इसीलिए मैंने LAXMI BOMB नाम का विरोध किया। मैं नारियों की सुरक्षा को लेकर चिंतित हूँ। हर रेप कांड के ख़िलाफ़ मैं बोला हूँ।मेरे एक इंटर्व्यू की क्लिपिंग को लेकर कुछ लोगों ने शोर मचा दिया है। मैंने कभी नहीं कहा कि औरतों को काम नहीं करना चाहिए। मैं सिर्फ़ ये बताने जा रहा था कि Me Too की शुरुआत कैसे होती है। हमारे देश में औरतों ने हर फ़ील्ड में अपनी जगह बनाई है। फिर चाहे वो डिफ़ेन्स मिनिस्टर हो, फ़ाइनैन्स मिनिस्टर हो , विदेश मंत्री हो या स्पेस में हो हर जगह नारी ने अपना परचम लहराया है। तो मैं नारी के काम करने के ख़िलाफ़ कैसे हो सकता हूँ। उस विडीओ इंटर्व्यू में मैं सिर्फ़ नारी के बाहर जाकर काम करने से क्या दिक़्क़तें आ सकती हैं उस पर रोशनी डाल रहा था। जैसे घर के बच्चे अकेले पड़ जातें हैं। मैं पुरुष और नारी धर्म की बात कर रहा था जो हज़ारों सालों से चला आ रहा है। मैंने ये नहीं कहा कि नारी बाहर जाती है तो Me Too होता है। मैंने एक साल पहले इसी टॉपिक पर एक विडीओ बनाई थी जो मैं आप लोगों को दिखाना चाहता हूँ कि तब भी मैंने यही कहा था कि नारियों को अपने काम काने की जगह पर अपनी सुरक्षा कैसे करनी चाहिये। मैंने तब भी नहीं कहा कि नारियाँ काम पर ना जाएँ। तो आज कैसे कह सकता हूँ। मैं अपने सभी दोस्तों से यही कहना चाहता हूँ कि मेरे स्टेट्मेंट को ग़लत तरीक़े से मत पेश करें। मेरा पिछला चालीस साल, मेरा फ़िल्मी सफ़र इस बात की पुष्टि करता है मैंने हमेशा नारियों की इज़्ज़त की है। इस बात को हर कलाकार या हर फ़िल्म यूनिट का मेम्बर जानता है कि मैंने हमेशा सबकी इज़्ज़त की है।अगर कोई भी नारी मेरे इस स्टेट्मेंट से आहत हुई हो तो मुझे अफ़सोस है कि मैं अपनी बात सही ढंग से नहीं रख पाया। मुझे इस बात की चिंता नहीं कि नारी समाज मेरे ख़िलाफ़ हो जाएगा। उन्हें होना भी नहीं चाहिए।मेरी ज़िंदगी खुली किताब है। सब जानते हैं कि मैंने कैसे ज़िंदगी जी है और कैसे जी रहा हूँ। मैं अपना वही इंटर्व्यू आपको पूरा दिखाना चाहता हूँ जिसमें से ये क्लिपिंग ली गई है। आपको पता चलेगा मैं नारियों के प्रति क्या विचार रखता हूँ।
He further talked about he age old custom, or ‘dharma’ that both men and women had, respectively. His explanation for what makes a man ‘mard’ was straight outta Mythology 101 and way past its expiry date. Oh and he also reminded us that before we criticise him, we should watch the entire video where he talks about how dowry’s bad, always speaks up about crimes against women, and is not doing any of this for publicity because he is, even today, as famous as the Khans.
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मुकेश खन्ना नारियों के ख़िलाफ़ है ये गम्भीर आरोप मुझ पर लगाने की काफ़ी लोगों ने हिमाक़त की।मैंने अपना पक्ष रखने और सत्य को सामने लाने के लिए अपने सोशल अकाउंट्स पर पोस्ट्स किए।आप सभी ने मेरा समर्थन किया।उसका तहे दिल से शुक्रिया।यही बात मैंने कैमरे के सामने आकर अपने यू टूब चैनल के एक विडीओ में कही।आपसे शेयर करना चाहता हूँ। आपको बात और अच्छी तरह से समझ में आ जाएगी कि शरारती तत्व जब शरारत पर उतर आते हैं तो किस हद तक जा सकते हैं। ख़ुद देख लीजिए।
I went into this with the idea of structurally dismantling his arguments. But after watching the complete video, I realised this was like a really bad movie, with bad acting and dialogues, and a script so regressive, that I it deserved to be reviewed and rated. So here goes.
For some reason, it was difficult to take Mukesh Khanna seriously because seemed to be doing a really bad imitation of Amitabh Bachchan for some reason? He wore sunglasses indoors and I wonder if it was because, to quote Scarface, “The eyes, chico, they never lie” and it would be easy to see through that half-hearted attempt at justifying his stance on #MeToo. To take you back to what I said before, the hardest job is to argue about gender equality with men who believe that just by respecting women, they’re doing their part and that’s why we don’t need feminism. It’s like that scene from Dil Dhadakne Do, where Rahul Bose’s character says that we’re making progress because he has ‘allowed’ his wife to work and he ‘respects’ her choices.
Also Read: Dhruv Rathee’s Comparison Of Black Lives Matter To Feminism Completely Misses The Point And This Needs To Stop
The way Mukesh Khanna talks about women is as if we were this minority species in the world and it was all so cute and exciting that we were making progress. You know, when you ask someone if they love animals and they tell you, :”Oh ya, totally! I even volunteer at the animal shelter, donate to PETA, speak up against poaching and I’m really happy the endangered whale population is rising!” Women are one half of the planet’s human population, sir. When you say crimes against women began when they stepped out to do something as basic as earn a living, you’re asking half the human beings on the planet to submit to your ridiculous idea. You then go on to say that women need to be responsible not just for the children’s needs but also for their own safety, because nowhere is the blame being levied on the #MeToo accused here. Zero mention of the predators who made it difficult for women who stepped outside to work.
So remind me again, how does it matter if you oppose dowry and speak up against rapes? How does that make you different from the other men who say that they support women’s progress but only as long as they progress within the boundaries of their regressive patriarchal society. You support educating women, great. But what do they do with that education if they’re not safe when they step out to work? If you claim to be a female ally, shouldn’t you be fighting to change laws and society’s oppressive practices instead of the stupid name of an inconsequential Bollywood film? Mukesh Khanna’s explanation/clarification/self-advocacy reeks of condescension for women. And that just makes the whole thing worse.
Funnily enough, when I was facepalming myself after watching the video, I came across this tweet.
Never ruin an apology with an excuse.
― Benjamin Franklin.
— Discourse Hacker (@Shudraism) November 2, 2020
And this is exactly what Mukesh Khanna has done. Albeit, there wasn’t even the slightest tinge of apology in those clarifications. Because he still thinks that his superficial respect for women is enough to absolve him of his misogyny. Much like the character he played in a mythological show, that respected women but didn’t think twice before abducting three princesses, destroying one’s chance at happiness, and sentencing her to a lifetime of rage so potent that God granted her the vengeance she wished.
Sorry Shaktiman, but this did not help. If anything, you just made it worse.