Bollywood trackers say Salman Khan’s shirtless number in Maine Pyar Kiya is the precursor to this virus. Today is Bhai’s calling card, a trademark, an unmissable scene, eagerly awaited by its zillions of fans and hailed by the collective ceties & taalis! Om Shanti Om of SRK and Ghajini of Aamir got the other two Khans to join the party and this phenomenon caught fire.
Over time, John, Akki, Ajay, Hrithik, Emraan and a gang have built up their muscles, prompting an amused director to confide that “whenever I ask a new actor about their preparation for the role, they confidently respond with “Gym regularly jaata hoon Sir! “What happened? Why aren’t our great actors seen as inspiring role models and touchpoints? Why is the magic of cinema and emotion hijacked by bodybuilding ?!
Sociologist Ashish Nandy thinks this is “a sociological backlash. The feminine gaze forever kept a secret by social conditioning eventually broke away and regained confidence through education, media exposure, financial independence, but above all a more liberated lifestyle in new-age India. The result is an enthusiastic and long overdue desire to express their hidden need to drool over and enjoy the male body as an object of desire! Simply translated, this means that the earlier baggage of shyness, guilt, shame and embarrassment has now been brazenly brushed aside and replaced with a normal, healthy hormonal rush whenever a sexy Johnny Boy, Akshay or Salman Khan flashes flesh. !
Director Tarun Mansukhani (who was responsible for John Abraham’s deadly exposure believes that cinema is a visual medium and presentation is key. “It makes perfect sense to make your hero as sexy as your heroine. I wanted them to be seen as hot guys, admired and impressed by guys and get the girls to hit that raging hormone button! ”
Author Shobhaa De goes even further. “I like the idea that male actors are objectified and finally Bhagwan ne meri sun lee. The thrills, over generations, have been boring and out of balance. The shirtless guy restored the balance. It’s the equivalent of the legendary wet-sari routine!
Sneha Anand disagrees, however. The Mumbai-based documentary maker believes that, “while school and college students as well as young women may salivate at the grand parade of male bodies, they are completely replaceable as they are made in a gymnasium; assembly line stuff. In Nawaz / Pankaj / Manoj / Ayushmann … they are irreplaceable. Remember, like Bimbos, the Himbos also have a short lifespan and when it comes to acting, we won’t even go there!