Ranveer Singh ke hamaam mein hum sab nange hain

Ranveer is being his usual self—devil may care, insouciant, spontaneous and provocative. He has been outrageous with his sense of style and clothes and is now as brazen with the lack of them

Ranveer Singh
Ranveer Singh

Namrata Joshi

It has been raining naked men on social media. After Vijay Deverakonda using a bunch of roses as fig leaf on the poster of his upcoming release Liger and Rahul Khanna taking cover behind socks and shoes and a small cushion, it was the turn of Ranveer Singh to go the Full Monty.

Call him clairvoyant or a mind reader, Ranveer would have well foreseen the response he’d get on opting to pose naked for an interview for Papermag. In the conversation with the publication he said, “I can be naked in front of a thousand people, I don’t give a shit. It’s just that they get uncomfortable.” It is exactly what happened on social media. As the pictures went viral, it was great fun to witness our own awkward responses to them. More than adding any more dimensions to what we had already seen of him, the reactions exposed us and laid bare our own mindsets, preconceptions and biases.

The obvious response by the Bollywood hate club, gaining ground steadily since Sushant Singh Rajput death by suicide case, was that it was an act of desperation, to gather attention when films have been failing. My own hunch (not that anyone would care for it), from whatever little I know of him, is that it is Ranveer being his usual self—devil may care, insouciant, spontaneous and provocative. He has been outrageous with his sense of style and clothes and is now as brazen with the lack of them.

In fact, his flagrancy holds a mirror unto us, proving that we aren’t just coy and squeamish but as bigoted and intolerant about nakedness, or even a hint of it, as we are when it comes to matters of religion and nationality. I remember all hell breaking loose back in 1995 when Milind Soman and Madhu Sapre had posed in the buff for a shoe ad. In 2022 we seem to have become even more fanatical. Nudity continues to be equated with debasement, immorality and shame in the world of arts, but the exploitative gaze of a filmmaker/imagemaker, how he/she frames the nude subject in cinema or pictures and paintings is never examined nor questioned.

Sophistication or crudity lies in the way of seeing, not the one being seen.

As expected, it has been men who have been expressing more outrage than women. Or, as filmmaker Onir pointed out, CisHet men. It has been evident in some utterly trashy tweets vilifying who else but a homophobic man’s favourite whipping boy Karan Johar. Yes, things may begin with Ranveer, but hatred has a way of reaching Karan and the other obvious target, Deepika Padukone. Someone tweeted that the pictures were the punishment she deserved for showing solidarity with the protesting JNU students, two years back.

Some of us preferred to hide behind the aesthetics of it, exercising intellectual and artistic, if not moral upper hand. It’s not sexy, it’s not beautiful. It’s a different matter that mild variations of skin tone, hair and muscles apart I couldn’t find much difference in all the pictures down the ages of Bollywood men in the buff, thoughtfully curated on Instagram by @retrobollywood.

What naked men we go for also reveals our age. Opting for a Milind or Danny shows our vintage and inability to keep pace with today’s sex symbols. And, in some cases, our own politics of beauty. One tweet I can’t un-see is that of Sunny Deol in a film (Mohalla Assi perhaps), with his chaddi and a janeu taking a dip in the river being pitched as the ideal (read Hindu Brahmin) of masculinity.

On the good side, social media has also been providing us that one thing that has kept us all going: humour. Some of it hurt in its utter blackness. Like the one about Ranveer playing the common man after the GST hike.

By the evening the election of 15th President of India had been all but forgotten. Why even the cricket series in West Indies seemed to not matter for a while. Ranveer Singh was the mirror in which we were left beholding ourselves.

Views are personal

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Published: 22 Jul 2022, 5:00 PM