I happened to overhear the phrase ‘chamiya ki tarah naach‘ in an ad airing on a kids channel. I did a double take and watched the rest of the ad – it was for a brand of confectionary called Creamfills, from Perfetti van Mille. For those not in the know, ‘chamiya‘ is a derogatory term used largely in Mumbai, while referring to dancers in shady bars and is similar to the term’item girl’ used in Hindi films. I am not going to provide a link to the TVC on YouTube – you can search for ‘Creamfills ad’ and sort by upload date, if keen to see it.
Lets just run through what is happening: a reputed MNC brand creates advertising for a candy brand whose target audience includes kids (both in terms of usage and advertising). The advertising is produced by a large MNC agency with bright, educated (MBAs to boot, I am sure), talented people. Both these guys sit down to prepare an ad for a candy whose claim to fame is a centre filling (this brand has been built upon the premise of a “Wonderful Surprise” which was extended to the iconic baseline “Kuch Alag Achanak”, says the description at the company website). So in keeping with the ‘surprise’ proposition, the boss acts out of character (like a chamiya, get it?) to get the candy
I am sure an 8-10 year old watching the ad, will think nothing of using the phrase ‘chamiya ki tarah naach‘ to a girl of similar age. Now this may sound like a trivial crib but I feel this is an example of women being objectified in popular media, especially in Hindi films. Item songs with suggestive lyrics centred around the women as an object have become de rigueur in Hindi films. I cringe when I see innocent kids dance to such songs (or made to dance in reality shows by their parents) in social gatherings. And for boys with no education to balance things out such stuff poisons the mind. When we hear about assault and violations on women the role of popular media is hardly condemned. Advertising borrows heavily from popular culture – be it movies, music or television. So it is disheartening to see advertising taking a leaf from the worst of Hindi cinema. I hope this is nipped in the bud.