Let’s not talk about the exceptions which do not get categorised in this exercise of prejudice and let’s make it clear that we are not advocating any skin show. We are only asking: Shouldn’t what is right for Peter be right for Paul too? Let’s debate.
First up, TV producer and ‘Bigg Boss 13’ and ‘Bigg Boss 14’ contestant Vikas Gupta offers, “Bollywood actresses project themselves just as they are, they don’t pretend. They have an advantage, of course, because they remain in the character only until the film is over, which often happens in 6-12 months; in fact, you will find them elaborating on their slate of forthcoming films in the press interviews of their film which is about to release. But TV actresses have to live their respective characters for years and years. Now what they do, which they should rather avoid, is that they don their serial avatar even when they go for events and appearances. So people get so used to seeing them in a fixed particular way, which is just how they precisely look in their respective shows, and cannot disconnect that from their mind when they shed their inhibitions. To be honest, many TV actresses also want to hold on to their popularity. Now then, in such a case, they ought to be ready to pay a price for that!”
Adds Gupta, “Let me explain the other aspect to this. People don’t mind Shefali Jariwala in glamorous attires as they still have her ‘Kaanta laga’ image in mind. When it comes to Nia Sharma, they know she is one girl who is extremely sure of what she will wear and look like. Rupali Ganguli’s ‘Anupamaa’ is currently topping the TRP charts but she is one person who will never wear a swimming costume and put it out in the public domain. What I’m saying here is that the personality and the following of an actor decide the trolls’ targets.” Is that why Aamna Sharif, who recently put out her picture clad in a bikini, didn’t get trolled? “Absolutely, Aamna’s fan-following is in the 30-35 age group, who started seeing TV during the days of ‘Kahiin Toh Hoga’ (2003); such fans are very tech-savvy and progressive.”
Adding to Vikas’s viewpoint, Devoleena Bhattacharjee says, “The people around us who do not understand that TV actresses are only playing a role are nothing but stupid.”
Juhi Parmar, whose performance in ‘KumKum- Ek Pyara Sa Bandhan’ was simply unforgettable, however, thinks slightly differently. “I don’t think it’s about whether the artiste in question is a movie actress or a TV actress- but rather the skin show, which is a taboo in our country. However, I feel women should wear what they want depending on how comfortable they feel in what they’re wearing, without being judged. A woman should have the right to choose and decide for herself, not just about what she wants to wear but about everything altogether, otherwise, she remains in the jail of societal thoughts.”
Koena Mitra, who has done TV and movies both, says, “You are right with your question. But look, here we consider only Bollywood and cricket as giants. Do you see our TV actors getting big brand ads? No, you don’t. If you do, it’s just a rare happening. I think I have answered your question.”
Bollywood’s Nidhhi Agerwal, who starred with Tiger Shroff in ‘Munna Michael’ agrees that the scales are tilted in favour of film gals when it comes to them being judged by their pictures on social media. Nidhhi, who herself puts out very glamorous pictures on her Instagram handle, has a piece of advice for the TV gals. “I understand the bias you are talking about. But I would advise that nobody should take social media seriously and get emotionally attached to it like we tend to do. Look at how TikTok got banned. What if Instagram doesn’t exist anymore in the near future? On the other side, let’s not get sentimental about the negative comments, whether one is a TV actor or not. I think some of them take the double standards very seriously and hence such debates arise.”
‘Bigg Boss 14’ participant Abhinav Shukla, husband of Rubina Dilaik who won the same season and was brutally trolled when she got into a swimsuit in April 2020, seems to have made peace with it. Without lashing out, he simply says, “Today, TV and movie actresses work in both mediums. So the distinction is not really relevant. Moreover, wearing a bikini is a personal choice, our constitution grants that right to us. You see, biased behaviour, lambasting, and bullying is the new normal. Guess, we have to learn to live with it.”
Another ray of hope is lighted by Chetan Hansraj, who says that he doesn’t think that the day is far off when movie stars and TV stars will be weighed on the same scale as film stars have started entering the TV scene thick and fast. “TV industry is bigger than Bollywood. All movie stars are competing with us to be on TV, I can only wish them the best of luck and welcome them to the TRPs game.”
Remedy? Mohit Malik seems to have given up. “It’s the case of conditioned minds which are very hard. Tough to break them,” he says.
But a leading producer, whose biggie is slated for November this year (name withheld on request), says, “You have rightly seen the bias. It does exist. But I must say that it doesn’t happen much nowadays. People love to see glam pictures of Jennifer Winget, Krystle D’souza, Mouni Roy, and Karishma Tanna; times are changing.” Mahhi Vij and Aashka Goradia seem to be on the same page as the producer. Mahhi says that at least she doesn’t focus on whether the actress whose picture she’s liked belongs to the big or small screen. “In my view, actresses from both the mediums in question are sexy.” And, Aashka seems to be the odd one out. “I am from TV and haven’t experienced this. Most of my pictures have only received appreciation. I have rarely had to delete a comment or block anyone,” she shrugs.
But it is Taapsee Pannu’s comment that takes the cake. Pannu quips, “As far as my observation goes, I have seen women, in general, being abused when they put out their pictures in a bikini but the same doesn’t happen to men when they put out their half-naked pictures from the gym or beach.”
The 64-million dollar question is: Who will bell the cat?