Calling all ’90s kids. Born and raised in the era of Fujicolor movies. Everything that represents that aesthetic of cinema screams Ranveer Singh. Loud, massy, wholesome entertainment that leaves you in a good mood for days. Chances are, you’re reading this article because either you love Ranveer Singh or you love to hate him. But, much like most of his Gen-Z fans, in-betweening ain’t his thing either. Consider that he’s an artiste who built a brand by being a disruptor simply by being who he is. Ranveer is the biggest example of Clayton Christensen’s ‘disruptor innovation’ theory – the most influential business idea of the early 21st century. Currently, the disruptive element his person has wrung, allegedly to society – his Paper magazine cover – has led to FIRs. One of the FIRs was registered on a complaint by a lawyer who accused the actor of “crossing all limits.”
Is being a disruptor a bad thing? Ask yourself. For many, ‘disruptor’ carries the weight of negativity. Can’t blame them; the weight of words is often directly proportional to what meaning they hold for us. If, for you, ‘disruptor’ is bad, perhaps, for you, it is. But the question here is — is it bad for everyone? Who holds the authority to become the mouthpiece of society? One of the complaints against Ranveer is by an NGO, who, in an authoritative voice with self-entrusted power to decide what constitutes ‘shame’ in society, alleged that “due to such pictures everyone’s sentiments are hurt.” Who would ‘everyone’ be? Among other things, one of the FIRs even claims that “… the photographs were clicked in such a manner that any male or female will feel ashamed about it.” He has been accused of insulting the modesty of women under our Constitutional laws. The laws that strongly hold the social and moral fabric of our democratic nation that has proudly completed 75 years of hard-earned freedom. As a woman, on behalf of some women, we can certainly say Ranveer’s images got our attention. He’s a performer who uses his body to express, communicate and entertain very successfully. That’s the job. In this particular case — he did it, and clearly got some flak from it; some liked it, some didn’t. But he did what he as an artiste can do. That, in no way, outrages, or should outrage the modesty of any gender.
We, in this age and time, are moved by a few artful and aesthetically nude images of an actor. Ask yourself — did it change your world or your perception towards it? Did you feel less or more motivated to do your work or go through your day? Did it change any fraction of your reality? And, if it did, what might next offend someone – pictures of fat pandas, cake with extra frosting, pimple extraction videos? Where does the buck stop? The moment his unclothed images hit the internet from the cover shoot, the whole internet divided itself into camps – which was expected. Outrage was expected from a few. But, then, it’s supposed to be back to business because the world has, in fact, not shifted on its axis.
There are many arguments going on about Ranveer’s images. Everyone has an opinion. That’s the internet, no complaints (on most days). Our culture and history have withstood more than we can possibly know. We are the land of the legends. If it does need protection, it is from the fringe elements in our society that believe it is their moral obligation to protect misguided, ill-informed ideas. Our economy needs an overhaul, youth need jobs, infrastructure needs reform, and we have further slipped in the global gender gap index (Bangladesh is ahead of us), among many other things. India ranks 135 among a total of 146 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index 2022 and is the worst performer in the world in the “health and survival” sub-index where it is ranked 146. Simply put, it will take us 132 years to reach gender parity.
Talking of parity and people’s isolated idea of “western culture” and its effect on “us”, let’s talk about Kim Kardashian. It was with Kim Kardashian, bare-bottomed, on the cover of Paper magazine in 2014 that they literally told the world how to “break the internet”. The term and the phenomenon took birth right then and there. Eight years on, we are hounding a homegrown actor for reinventing the idea, doing something different, and looking pretty damn neat at it. Much like Milind Soman and Madhu Sapre’s PETA ad shoot from 1994 or 1995, which also courted controversy. Twenty-seven years on, we are still at it (deep sigh). I think I saw that ad from my Fujicolor ’90s, and I turned out just fine.
Also Read: Ranveer Singh On Stardom, Success, Movies And Marriage With Deepika