I went to an early morning movie screening today. Gunday was the option we arrived at after much discussion, which indeed proved to be quite tolerable. It was something completely different that caught my fancy and occupied my thoughts.It was a definite gesture of recognizing the female audience, rather the female gaze.
Media, specifically Popular cinema has been accused of commodifying women for decades. It might be those saree clung heroines of yesteryear or the mini-wearing heroines of today. Even Hollywood did not escape from it, with the quintessential bond girl and other supermodels. Commodifying has not yet stopped, and will not as well, though there has been a subtle addition to it. The Ad-world embraced this addition some time ago, the popular cinema to a limited extent. That addition is of commodifying the man.
Gunday has ample amount of skin-show by both the male protagonists. Their sculpted bodies are highlighted well throughout, and fight sequences shot in slow motion display their toned muscles. Now Gunday is of course not the first picture where the hero's sex appeal is tapped. Salman khan has been going topless in almost all his films. This case is different though. Here, their physical appearances are as much crucial to movie's reception as the screenplay. The deafening applause and the spontaneous whistles by the entire female audience only confirms this fact.
Looking back at the female commodification over the years, a funny fact can be observed. It is always assumed that the commodified female is always to satisfy the male gaze. It is however sold as a commodity to both genders. The men might be lusting after the sex appeal or enjoying this mythical image of that woman of their dreams. The women audience though was also affected though. It affected them in form of body image. It told them that this was the ideal way to be, in case they want to be desirable in the male eye. It coaxed them to alter their lifestyles. It put them under lot of pressure.
If you say, that this happened only with the commodified image of that slim and fair maiden, think once more. Not just the heroine, the vamp and the mother were also commodified. The mediated image of mother portrayed the ideal homemaker and a super woman. More than men, women consumed this image, and this evidently adds to more stress and syndromes.
So contrary to the obvious thought, Women as a commodity were intended to be consumed as much by women as by men.
The commodity of an ideal father or brother was already available. Commodifying man in purely physical format, as 'male' exists subtly though. The super-desirable Milind Soman of 'Made in India', or the tight butted John Abraham of Dostana, are the males intended to be and were presented as physical commodities.The trend is not new, just that it is very slow and s rarely seen in obvious way.
Gunday has made sure though that their female audiences get an image to consume. The movie unabashedly puts the commodified 'male' in the market. This may be attributed to the openness about female sexuality, though I am doubtful whether any female audience actively gives it so much of a thought. But the new entry in market can not be ignored, and I feel it is here to stay. To be shown and accepted more and more in upcoming years.
And who knows, the feminists for once might be happy with popular cinema. Ultimately, why should boys have all the fun? :D