Mumbai’s police department has deployed an unusual strategy to revamp its sagging reputation and to counter criticism that it hasn’t done a good job at solving crimes against women in the city – it called the biggest game in town and asked for help.
Top city police officers, including the police commissioner, have asked Bollywood producers, directors and writers to portray them in a more positive light than they usually do.
While films like “Ardh Satya” spoke of the pressures and frustrations of policemen, many mainstream films, which have the most reach, aren’t kind to the force. The police also have asked the studios to change how they portray the women in their films, hoping that this would cause men to behave better toward women.
The Mumbai police are much admired – and maligned. People admire how the cops have quashed the underworld that once flourished in the city, but criticized them for not being able to curb crime against women (Mumbai has the second-highest number of rapes in India after Delhi) or corruption in real estate.
Bollywood’s portrayal of policemen, either as pot-bellied, inefficient buffoons, or as angry young men out to play the role of the vigilante is doing them a disservice, they say. In the 2011 film “Singham” Ajay Devgn played an honest police officer who, along with his fellow officers, murders a corrupt politician. The film was one of the biggest hits of the year.