• Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif dances to the item number song "Chikni Chameli" in the 2012 Hindi film Agneepath.

    Film Crit

    Bollywood Didn’t Do It

    You can't Indian film’s sexual schizophrenia for the brutal gang-rape that has galvanized the nation.

    In the 80s, the Bollywood hero’s sister existed primarily to be raped, fueling revenge sagas. The villain—sinewy and oily, his tight black underwear and porn mustache drenched with sweat—would grunt and grope his way into the distressed damsel’s sari. The scene was grotesque and cliché, but for an industry historically afraid of showing flesh, onscreen molestation titillated.

    The argument, propagated by bloviating pundits, that Bollywood is to blame for the brutal gang-rape and murder of a young girl in Delhi is, to use some dialogue from Hindi movies, rubbish. Like any film industry, India’s movie-making machine is both progressive and regressive—there are films like Zero Dark Thirty and there are films like White Chicks. Quentin Tarantino and Inglourious Basterds did not spark the Aurora shooting. Movies don’t exist in isolation.