She presents at the Oscars, is as outlandish as the rest at the Met Gala and plays Holi with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. One would say, generally this is when you arrive. And the bay may be on her watch, but Priyanka Chopra has been reminded that you can take an Indian out of the country, you can even make wearing a red bikini mainstream and star in a major US television show, but there isn’t much you can do when outraged sanskari sensibilities knock on your Twitter handle.
Priyanka Chopra wore a dress and met the Prime Minister in Berlin. God forbid! She looked elegant and that designer dress was nothing if not modest. Some of us may have worn an outfit a tad more formal in her place, although not necessarily traditional, but no one asked us, and frankly, no one should. But where misogyny flourishes, something as simple as “it’s my choice” becomes a meandering web of cheap unsolicited judgement.
Seriously, it’s taking us Indians longer than even singer Sonu Nigam’s final rant on Twitter to realise that a woman can look charming in western attire. But more importantly, as Deepika Padukone once retorted to a news daily on her “cleavage show”, “Don’t talk of women empowerment when you don’t know how to respect women.” Priyanka looked just as dignified as she did last year when we saw her receiving the Padma Shri award. She may have been in a sari but between then and now, while she is breaking a leg, not much has changed in her graceful demeanor.
Not just the average troll but our national broadcaster, Air India Radio, was surprisingly fastest finger first, calling the dress not decent enough, and the posture disrespectful for meeting the PM. Clearly, the broadcaster and its masters still believe that the only posture that works is when you prostrate before a leader. AIR should instead restrain its excitement to cricket fatigues and focus on how best to lull us with its staccato commentary during the forthcoming Champions Trophy.
PeeCee though seems to have dismissed it all as a bad script, posting another picture in defiance with her mother, captioning it “legs for days.” All I can say for this one though is, if you have them, only then flaunt them! Certainly, no Betty Grable here!
A lot of affront predictably was on behalf of the Prime Minister. Really? Here we are, assassinating the character of a woman just because she wore a dress, and while declaring we are teaching her respect.
Last year, Kangana Ranaut’s National Award for Best Actress became irrelevant as we bristled indignantly, questioning her right to wear a strapless dress while receiving the award from the President.
If we must obsess about the private decisions of public figures, then let’s ask what kind of an example singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya with his countless songs and supporters sets by talking in such an offensive and crass manner about women. That is lack of decorum and class. That is a narrow and filthy mentality, not sitting confidently on a chair in a dress and speaking with the PM. Perhaps we still can’t handle independent confident women and should stick to Ekta Kapoor’s saas-bahu dramas.
Priyanka was ahead. And then, sigh. Posting selfies in front of the Holocaust memorial in Berlin is more than a little insensitive even for a regular tourist. But I guess the selfie bug spares no one, not even the most famous. Yet, her “eerie silence” caption was frivolous and soon after, the actress deleted her photo, hopefully having learnt a belated lesson in history or otherwise.
We of course pat our backs because no one can cow (that’s the cue for the next round) us down. To compliment a woman in a short dress, we need a much bigger mindset. I won’t hold my breath.