Sunny Nights, the controversial NYE event starring former porn star Sunny Leone, has aroused a country-wide debate. The Karnataka HC’s show of solidarity did little to appease her naysayers, who have threatened a mass suicide if the show goes on. Why are we supporting an actress who called rape ‘surprise sex’, and inviting another NYE disaster, demands Harish, President, Karnataka Rakshana Vedike Yuva Sene, while fashion guru Prasad Bidapa laments the loss of the liberated, happy-go-lucky Bengaluru that once was...
Bengaluru: No longer safe, no longer permissive
Bangalore in the 80’s was the very essence of a city with a civilised night life, and our reputation for having great night clubs ensured that the denizens of cities like Mumbai and Delhi came down regularly to party here. Permissive and sophisticated, Bangalore had clubs like 3 Aces where cabaret artists performed with live bands in acts that were reminiscent of 70’s style Bollywood films where the great vamps of India like Helen, Bindu and Parveen gyrated across the silver screen.
Yes, Bangalore was a permissive City in those days, when our nightlife rocked, our streets were safe and the closing time was 3am or till whenever the Discos emptied. Knock Out, Topkapi and Princes were the epitome of cool and women felt safe in coming out without escorts, for this City protected them.
No longer safe, no longer permissive. In the decade past, fringe elements like the Ram Sene proliferated, taking it upon themselves to become the torch bearers of morality and safeguards of a woman’s virtue. They wish to see Sunny Leone in a Sari performing culturally enriching entertainments, but threatened mass suicide if she performed in a short skirt.
In a world that increasingly resembles the theatre of the absurd, our self appointed guardians of morality have decreed many things non Sanskriti, from the dancing of the Garba to Padmavati, from the wearing of blue jeans to Women fraternising with the opposite sex. All over India, diktats are issued and behavioural norms circumscribed. Lakshman Rekhas are drawn and women, for the target of the Moral Brigade is always the woman, finds herself caged again as ultimatums are issued if anyone’s should dare as much let Sonny Leone step on stage with more than her ankles showing.
In a funny way, I was proud that India accepted Sonny Leone with open arms as she tried and succeeded in storming the industry. Not bad, I thought to myself, we are still the land of the Kama Sutra and we are able to celebrate a woman who was the modern equivalent of those beautiful temple girls of Belur and Halebid. Those erotic odalisques who were said to be gifted with beauty, intelligence and wit, much like our Sunny.
But alas, Sunny is allowed to express herself on screen but when it comes to a live performance, she had better keep her clothes on and behave like a proper Bharathiya Nari. What a great pity, for Sunny must be electric to watch as she performs her smash hit Bollywood dances like Baby Doll. I would have loved to attend her performance and I’m sure most of Bengaluru would agree with me when I say there’s nothing wrong in her performing in our city. Come on, she’s just dancing, not performing a live sex act on stage!
If these trolls who issue the ultimatums were not given so much publicity, would the Government pay any attention to them? I seriously doubt it. It’s always the publicity they get that helps them grow like the cancer they are. Maybe a good strategy for the media would not to fall for their wily manipulation that results in the authorities caving in. The right thing for the Government to do is round these chaps up and put them into preventive detention till New Year’s is over. Their reaction makes me feel that they have zero control over the criminal and disruptive elements in this city, and are hostage to them and their idiotic demands.
Every New Year we see a shell shocked police force who seem helpless and ill prepared. Thousands of rowdies from all around Bengaluru pour into the city from the morning of New Year’s Eve, determined to have a good time and have their 5 hours of crazy celebrations. This was what triggered last years mayhem on MG Rd. When drunken men verbally abused and molested random women. The Police see nothing wrong in allowing this, and we are told to stay home and out of trouble. Can something not be done aabout monitoring this influx and ensuring the citizens of Bengaluru a safe New Year? I’m not being elitist, for they have as much a right to come here but we have a right too, to safety and harmony in the city at any time of the day or night.
— Prasad Bidapa, Fashion Stylist
Why are we asking for a repeat of NYE 2017?
Sunny Leone's participation - or lack thereof - in the much-hyped New Year's Eve event Sunny Nights is less important than the fact that a mere appearance from the former porn star has led to such intense debate from all corners of our society. What is most unfortunate, perhaps, is the extent to which this topic has been discussed - it is the chief point of conversation here in Bengaluru, especially among the youth. Despite the excitement surrounding the event, few people, men and women included, know very little about their idol.
Opposition to her visit began with the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike Yuva Sene, an organisation established in 2015 to protect and uphold Kannada culture. The group maintained that an appearance by Leone would damage "local culture", which she evaluates in keeping with the Western standards she has upheld for years.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the same woman who took to her Twitter handle to say, "Rape is not crime, it's surprise sex', barely two months after the gruesome rape of a girl in Delhi shook the country to its foundations. Not much time has passed since, although a great deal appears to have changed. Is this the woman we now claim to idolise?
Our organisation certainly isn't against artistes - on the contrary, we respect art. Sunny Nights, however, was an event being organised at the cost of the very culture we want to protect. Why her, after all, when Bollywood and Sandalwood are brimming over with artistes of equal - or more - popularity? The organisers also claim that this will be a family event. I want to ask him - who organises events with scantily clad dancers and free-flowing alcohol for families?
Bengaluru found itself in the limelight last year, after what the media called a "mass molestation" during the New Year's Eve frenzy on Brigade Road. That mishap brought our city flack from across the country. I have a feeling that Sunny's presence will trigger similar instances this year as well. When that happens, the very people who spoke in favour of the event, citing their rights (Bollywood actors included) will demean Bengaluru once more and call it unsafe for events. They will do so on their social media handles, claiming violations of the very same rights.
Many people of the city who are concerned about safety and culture are with us, supporting our cause. We as an organisation that is proud to be a child of Karnataka, appreciate the city police for understanding the consequences of holding an event like this. They did right by the people by denying permission; they acted in the interest of public safety. And we all know what happened in Kochi earlier this year when Sunny Leone went there. Why should Bengaluru go the same way?
— Harish, President, Karnataka Rakshana Vedike Yuva Sene...