Shekhar Ravjiani, of Vishal-Shekhar fame, has just released a new track, called Devi. It’s supposed to be a “heartfelt tribute to womankind”. Except in the midst of all his love and respect for women, he completely forgot to put even a single woman in the video.
The nearly four minute long video shows Shekhar walking and running through the streets of what I assume is Varanasi, clapping, doing aartis, throwing flowers around and applying various pastes on various foreheads. The video also shows glimpses of dreadlocked sadhus flipping their hair back and forth, little boys running around and jumping into rivers, jalebis frying in oil, and men playing instruments. The only thing the video doesn’t show, of course, is a woman.
As the Huffington Post points out, there are only two glimpses of women in the whole video: one, a graffiti image of a woman on a wall in the background, and the other of a woman who seems completely unaware that she’s even in this video, selling sindoor as Shekhar jogs past her. The video ends with the camera focusing on Shekhar carrying a small infant and looking into her eyes for a few seconds.
I want to be angry, but I’m honestly just finding it funny that no one, from Shekhar himself, to the tens of people who must have worked on the video, to the folks leaving adoring comments under the video on YouTube, to the Bollywood celebrities like Karan Johar and Sonakshi Sinha who’ve been sharing it so excitedly, noticed what was glaringly missing from a video tribute to women.
The song, called Devi, also repeatedly compares women to Hindu goddesses, falling in the recent tradition of videos, songs and campaigns that insist that Indian women are goddesses, and that this is the reason why they should have toilets and not be subjected to domestic violence. Except, you know, women aren’t goddesses. We’re not sitting around waiting for you to worship us, we’re humans demanding our human rights. The song also makes references to women being mothers and sisters, as though we have no worth or value of our own.
I feel like it’s also a wonderful representation of what happens when men try to profit from popular “causes” and “issues” without truly caring about or understanding them. For the most part, Shekhar has been receiving rave reviews and comments from people who think it’s great that he cares about women. Everyone who watches this video will be treated to full minutes of his face, gaining him recognition and mileage, and doing, well…nothing for the women of India this is supposed to be a tribute to. You know the joke about the male feminist walking into a bar…