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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

Men Don’t Know How To Respect A Woman: Lyricist And Director Prashant Ingole

  • IWB Post
  •  October 12, 2018

“Women are the ultimate symbol of sacrifice which they never should be. They accept the unhealthy, unpleasant, and unjustified behavior of the men in their lives and what do we do? We are unable to give them even an ounce of what they do for us. Men don’t know how to respect a woman who, even after suffering exploitation and humiliation, continues to be loving and caring,” said Prashant Ingole, Bollywood lyricist. He is now all set with his first directorial venture, a women-centric short film, Budh.

Budh follows the life of three women who suffer from social evils like patriarchy, abuse and disrespect from their partners. But they rise from the ashes like a phoenix, and fight back. 

Prashant Ingole

Movie poster

In a conversation with Prashant, we discuss the inspiration behind the film and its characters, social issues it aptly depicts and the objectification of women in Bollywood songs. Excerpts:

So, Budh is a women-centric film, can you tell me what was it that became the inspiration for its story?

For the last 6-7 years, I have been regularly visiting Goa. Though many say it is a favourite place for couples, I have never seen people more alone. Especially women, who even though are in a relationship lack that bond with their partner. I could see the absence of mutual respect in men for their partner, it is sad, Apeksha, that they haven’t established one of the most basic links of a relationship- communication. Be it husband-wife, couple or friends, this communication gap exists.

Prashant Ingole

I write song lyrics for Bollywood films but I feel rather disconnected when it comes to their film’s storylines which rarely depict the reality of women’s status in society, and in their own relationships. How they lack understanding from their own partner who denies to give her the love and respect she deserves, sometimes unknowingly and sadly, sometimes he does so consciously. This realization became the crux of my long-running dream of making a film, which showcases what women go through and what they do for their loved ones and the society but still aren’t recognized for their sacrifices.

So, as you seem to have acutely judged the issue at hand, my question is how do you extend respect and understanding to the women in your life?

You would call it a cliched dialogue if I say I respect all women. So, I would just say that I do my best to give them the attention and understanding they deserve, I assure you there is no bigger respect for a woman than being acknowledged for what she does. Like, when I go to Pune to visit my mother and sister, I give them a  strict warning to stay out of the kitchen for the duration I am there. I know it not a ‘Whoa!’ thing, but the little things matter.

Coming back to your film, you earlier mentioned that women face humiliation and exploitation in India, so does your film depict social issues as well that women face on a daily basis?

Yes. There are three stories in the film which focus on women’s struggle and survival against all odds and their awakening to their true self, the one who fights for herself and doesn’t bow down in front of the wrongs. Like one of the characters in the film, a widow with two small girls, is suffering from physical abuse at the hands of her brother-in-law whose wife is unable to conceive. It’s her mother-in-law who is instructing her son to sleep with her daughter-in-law so she can give birth to a boy. Two women are suffering here, both victims of the prevalent patriarchy in India that labels a woman as expendable.

Prashant Ingole

Stills from Budh

Next is the story of a newly-married girl who tries hard to make her husband happy by making good food for him and diligently doing every household chore. But he never notices her effort and rather disregards them. He talks sweetly to his mother but is harsh with his wife and even tortures her. She aspired to become a fashion designer but her husband doesn’t support.

Prashant Ingole

Stills from Budh

Prashant Ingole

Stills from Budh

Other stories depict such social evils, where men find it okay to suppress the women who, after they reach the end of their tolerance, show how they were never weak and can, and will, fight for themselves. This film is a story of their awakening.

Prashant Ingole

Prashant Ingole with Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Prashant Ingole came into the limelight and gained recognition when he wrote the lyrics for ‘Party on my mind’ in Race 2 in 2013. Since then there has been no looking back, Prashant penned lyrics for ‘Dil Ye Ziddi hai’ and “Adhure” (Mary Kom), ‘Malhari’, ‘Gajanana’, (Bajirao Mastani) which won him much appreciation from the film fraternity as well as the audience. He also wrote three songs in the Hindi version of recent Hollywood release ‘Beauty and the Beast’. He has also penned the song “Pal” in the recently released film “Jalebi.”

Often many Bollywood songs have lyrics that objectify women and even use vulgar words. As a lyricist in the same industry, what are your views?

If a song is justified and the lyrics fit the context then it is fine. Like the song Beedi Jalai le in Omkara. It was so subtly shot and written, the aura of seduction and sexuality is created but not at even a single point does it sound vulgar. It was a part of the story and it added to it.

But the problem here is, in Bollywood, many times such songs rarely fit in, they just come out of nowhere and are more or less not the demand of the script either. But still, such songs get famous. Why? Because of us, the Indian audience is still unable to understand the insult these songs pose. There is no connection between the characters and the words that he sings out on screen. Songs are now just another method to earn money.                              

So, what do you think needs to change?

As we know, that sometimes a film may not do well, but its songs still hold a chance. I personally feel that we as writers should be more conscious of the message we put forward to society via our songs. Our words are what people repeat, listen on loop and that may create a lasting effect. Like I love to understand the character first before I write the song lyrics for the character. I need to understand the kind of phrases he or she may use if the song is fitting smoothly in the plotline.     

And another change is for our audience to bring about, to judge what they are liking as because of them applauding these vulgar lyrics, such songs are thriving.

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