Malaika Arora Wants To Shed The Tag Of Being An ‘Item’, But She’ll Probably Have To Live With It
Malaika Arora rose to fame with the iconic Chhaiya chhaiya, a song that even then, was probably thrown in for some extra eyeballs and so you’d have a tune to shake a leg to the next time you hit a club. It wasn’t new then, and even now, ‘item’ numbers are not new. If there’s ever a song thrown in without serving the sequence of events in the movie, it’s an ‘item’ song. This sort of song usually features a skimpily-clad woman, with a man or various men throwing lustful glances her way.
Malaika Arora has been a part of many of these. She has been what the industry calls unabashed and unapologetic in her skin and actions, and that is exactly why we love her. Her onscreen persona, however, is mostly reduced to being the seductress. And while she doesn’t mind sending the mercury soaring with her moves and her body, she certainly hasn’t taken to being tagged an ‘item’.
In a recent interview with Anupama Chopra she was asked to comment on the ‘item numbers’ that she has done, to which she replied, “Whenever I did a song I did it on my own accord, I never did it under any duress. I was comfortable.” She continued to say, “I’ve always had a problem with it being called ‘item song’. Imagine someone calling me, ‘yeh kya item hai‘ (what an item), I’d turn around and slap that person.”
While we want to stand right next to her, supporting what can only be a virtual slap to the society that has been raised on misogynistic ideals, it stills seems like a far-fetched dream to shed that tag off.
Bollywood, to serve its own end has objectified women, not just as ‘items’ in dance numbers, but also as props that serve no greater purpose than to glamourise movies. She says, “I’ve never felt that it crossed that line where it was downright vulgar, or downright offensive,” she said. “According to me, it was always in a nice fun, tongue-in-cheek sort of space.”
The thing is, taking off that tag, the one that has been tacked on to her for so many years may be easier said than done. When your body of work majorly consists of these songs, Bollywood will definitely try and pigeonhole you. And that’s happened to Malaika and countless others. She may not want the tag but we think it will stick, despite her protests. While we definitely don’t think it’s right, it probably is the truth of this situation.