Abstract: 45 words/ 250 Characters
Review: 705 words
ABSTRACT: It’s a bop at any Bollywood party, but is the reverse male gaze in Veere Di Wedding’s “Tareefan” music video something to dance to? The leading ladies say yes, if they’re going to burn the patriarchy, then everyone needs to look hot while doing it.
Any Desi person knows that if there is a new Bollywood blockbuster starring one of the Kapoors, they can expect the soundtrack to be blasting at their next wedding function. The feel-good female comedy Veere Di Wedding (with two Kapoors!) is no exception. The official music video for “Tareefan” by QARAN featuring Badshah, uploaded by Zee Music Company earlier this year, has over 161 million views – and the winter wedding season is just getting started. With a beat drop bound to make even Pappu dance, the visuals and lyrics in “Tareefan” can be as hypnotizing when they are not looked at analytically. However, we are trading Badshah’s rose-colored shades for a magnifying glass, and we do not have many praises to sing about this video.
Traditionally, Bollywood ‘item’ songs are so drenched in the male gaze, the viewer will not even see the woman’s face until after the men are shown ogling at her. “Tareefan” nips this in the bud within the first five seconds by providing a nice close-up on both Kareena’s and Sonam’s face – shoulders up only. Solid start, right? Then you hit the six-second mark with a mysterious, well-built man in the shower. Yeah, this would be a good time to kindly escort children and faint-hearted elders out of the room. This bathroom scene is the first role-reversal objectification present in the video. Instead of Sonam Kapoor being the passive object of desire, the steam-covered man is. Kareena Kapoor follows suit in a bedroom setting, this time with two fair-skinned, well-built men only covered by a strip of white cloth lying on either side of her. However, the two men are only meant to blend with the background. It is impossible to look at anything other than Kareena’s bright green sequin dress, especially when she is kept in the center of the camera’s focus.
Unfortunately, Bollywood says you cannot have a smash hit without females being objectified in some form. Putting aside the Kapoors’ hip-thrusting, when Badshah begins to rap, the viewer can faintly see figures dancing in cages in the background. Since the bokeh is strong within Badshah, it is difficult to determine the gender of these figures. At this point, along with a breather from the visuals, English-speakers (like us!) can finally register the lyrics. No matter what language(s) you speak, and/or how many translations you look up, the common message that this song projects is: “dayum gurl, you lookin’ fine!” Take this section, for example:
Baby god damn tu hai 100
Baby god damn, you’re 100
Baaki average, tu hai savage
Everyone else is average, you’re a savage
Baby tu hai raw
Baby, you’re raw
Mujhe teri body ki har woh cheej lage sexy
The things I find sexy about your body
Jo baakiyon ko lagti hai flaw
Are what everyone else thinks are a flaw
Because there’s nothing more romantic than receiving a compliment while the rest of your gender is being hated on.
Moving on from the misogynistic lyrics, Veere Di Wedding stars four women. You initially see Kareena and Sonam, but what about the other two? They finally come halfway through the music video, but don’t think they’ll have as much screen time as the Kapoors have in total. In fact, unlike the Kapoors’ solo close-ups, Swara and Shikha are introduced in scenes with other people. Is it because they’re not as skinny as the K-Listers? Not as tall? Can’t rock the purple eyeshadow like Sonam can? Whatever the reason may be for the less dynamic-duo being sidelined, this review refuses to glaze over Swara’s butt-grab at the one minute-forty-eight second mark. No matter how the fair-skinned, well-built boytoy reacted, sexual harassment is not okay, Swara.
Overall, although this music video challenges the female archetypes in Bollywood by switching the gears, it does little to overtly state that the objectification of women is wrong. The video’s attempt to project a ‘female gaze’ does not equate to girl power, especially since shots of the Kapoor women’s chests are still being provided (weren’t they no longer supposed to be the objects of desire?) This video’s approach to fighting the media patriarchy may be to fight fire with fire, but the only thing burning is our feminist dignity.