Throwback Thursday: Fashion Is Juicy But Full Of Stereotypes And Sexism
When you think about the movie Fashion, you feel like not much time has passed. But when you look at the growth curve of Priyanka Chopra and Kangana Ranaut, you feel like it was a whole different era. Can you believe in a scene PeeCee pays the rickshaw wala 15 bucks? Both actresses delivered spectacular performances. In fact, it was around Fashion and Dostana that the world finally got convinced that this woman is going to be a star.
Madhur Bhandarkar is known for his brand of juicy films that trace the rise and fall of a female lead, a woman whose ambitions somehow become too big for her gender. What is the message that these films give us? Women can’t handle ambitions and it can lead to our downfall. Of course, Meghna Mathur (Priyanka Chopra) did climb her way back up but don’t let that fool you into believing that Fashion is all about feminism.
I won’t deny that it is our guilty pleasure that attracts us to masaaledaar content. Why do you think people like Bigg Boss so much? We love gossip and we love to believe that the world of fashion is filled with bitchy women who would swallow each other alive if they must, to become the next showstopper.
Madhur Bhandarkar will have you believe that the world of fashion is laced with toxicity but what he has shown is just a stereotypical representation of the industry. He gave us the side of the industry that people who have no idea of it would like to believe.
Meghna Mathur is a small-town girl with big dreams of becoming a model. It seems like he terribly stereotyped small-town girls as well. She is shown as naïve and under-confident but really that is not how it is. In fact, while I understand she has no idea of how the fashion industry functions, being from a small town doesn’t make you a simpleton. She has to be told that it’s not okay to openly point someone and talk about them and I am like, no honey, that’s basic courtesy.
Her friend in the industry introduces her to a small-time casting agent who works with strugglers. And she is shown as someone with a very crass way of speaking and often sounds like she runs an escort agency. Not everyone gets to cast for Yashraj Films but it doesn’t mean they have to be portrayed as shady.
In fact, at some point, shooting for a “linger-iee” product is something so terrible. What’s worse is at the shoot the guys are talking like chapris. I can vouch for the fact that no professional shoot is done that way, irrespective of how small the brand is. Where is Mr. Bhandarkar getting his inspiration from? Fashion doesn’t get the industry right!
And if you ignore how he showed small town girls and low-budget shoots, you cannot turn a blind eye towards the absolute bitchiness. In the entire film, women are pitted against each other while men just live in peace. Meghna’s ego-wars with Shonali (Kangana Ranaut), her friend Janet (Mughda Godse), and her sugar daddy’s (Arbaaz Khan) wife Avantika Sarin (Suchitra Pillai) just don’t go down well with me. No, it’s not like there is a place for only one supermodel and one must completely fail for another to get that spot. And no, if your husband is having an affair you must have a problem with him, not his mistress. What are these concepts? Even random women at the auditions end up getting into catfights. I would like to believe there is much more sisterhood in this world. Forget sisterhood, these are adult women with the ability to rationalise.
The stereotypes are plenty – how the world of fashion is full of disturbed, toxic women indulging away in alcohol, drugs, and all that. It’s almost a rule that women will reach for a glass of alcohol and start taking drugs when there is trouble emotionally. But let’s just say, women are emotional but we also have better ways of handling our feelings. Models are professionals and they don’t walk down the runway drunk in those high heels! And no, these women are not always high and sleeping with powerful men to climb the ladder.
And while we struggle to get the complete misrepresentation of women there, Meghna Mathur gets pregnant! Now, she chose to have a love affair with a rich, powerful dude. And she has been a highly ambitious woman. In real life, I would not expect this woman to say things like she wants to make babies now and let go of her modelling career. Ideally, that shouldn’t be an either-or thing but if there is a no-pregnancy clause, I would expect her to choose her career over having babies with a man using her for her body. And then the man pays for her abortion. A high-earning top model could afford that, I suppose, and then broken up with this toxic man. But how else will you show a woman torn between her ambitions and her emotions? Fashion isn’t fair to women!
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While we are at stereotyping the fashion industry, the LGBTQ+ community, women, and all of that, how can Fashion not indulge in racism? Remember that scene when Meghna gets high and wakes up next to a black dude? The fear and embarrassment on her face were so evident. She literally runs away from there, almost as if she was kidnapped and drugged by the guy.
The world of fashion isn’t as toxic as represented in this film. Women can very well handle ambitions and God bless those girls whose parents refused to let them pursue their dreams after watching this film.