Views on ‘Why Loiter? Radical Possibilities For Gendered Dissent’ – Melissa Butcher & Selvaraj Velayutham

Extremely enjoyed an essay on loitering in the city-the rights to loiter and its gendered construction:

Taporis of Bollywood Photo taken from the link:–taporis-bollywood/show–full/id–8360.html

“Of all the above on-screen hero’s romantic and evil have always been famous. But off late we see Taporis taking a toll in our Bollywood movies. Right from their colloquial language, their clothes to their rugged body language, nothing can be ignored. This tapori look, usually having a scarf or a hanky around the neck has become one of the famous looks for film-makers.”



Few of the Loitering city spaces mentioned for Taporis in the journal is “Paan ki shop”, “Corners of the street”, Bus stop, market area etc. These two Bollywood movies, which I remembered from my memory lane of 90’s:

 1) Ghulam is a 1998 Indian action crime drama, directed by Vikram Bhatt.

2) Rangeela is a 1995 Indian romantic comedy drama film directed by Ram Gopal Varma.



The questions arises: ” Who owns the city?” & “Who has the right to use the Public space of the city?”

“Loitering has the capacity to challenge the new global order of the city by compelling an engagement with the idea that the right to public spaces is a core component of citizenship.” This reminds me of the local example of “Maya Khan Show” – It shows Samaa TV host Maya Khan, accompanied by a camera crew and a gang of energized women, prowling a public park in Karachi for young couples to catch and shame on national television. The couples’ crime? Daring to “date” in a public space.


images (1)

A screenshot from the controversial talk show ‘Subah Saveray Maya Kay Saath’


And then the show got terminated along with her team. Would love to talk on this in class.

The other example of “Tapori” in local language is “Bhai loog” of Karachi city = MQM ?? Example: They have all right to shut down shops and businesses of Karachi whenever they want, this act or I will say art of ruling the city karachi… shows their “Bhai Giri” = “Tapori Giri”.

Picture reference:


Reference from:

Also, got my hand on another interesting book called “Bombay Cinema: An archive of the City” By Ranjani Mazumdar.

Excerpts from the book “Bombay Cinema: An archive of the city” “Sexual Anxiety, City Space, and the Streetwalker”

Elizabeth Wilson has shown how in much of European urban writing, women’s presence in the city was seen a source of both pleasure and danger ( 1991,59).

This dual-edged relationship produced an anxiety wherein the lure of the city was not only seen as dangerous for women, but women’s very presence seemed to make the city a dangerous place. The public-private divide intensified during the industrial period, leading to tremendous anxiety about women’s presence in the streets and in other public places of entertainment (1991, 59).

Any women seen loitering and walking the street could easily be viewed as a prostitute. The public-private division played a crucial role in harnessing a moral discourse around the “women of the public,” who was more often than not seen as a prostitute. Give the fact that women in large numbers have always been present in the public spaces of Indian cities, it become important for us to ask how and why the streetwalkers discourse described by Wilson is reproduced in the Indian context.

As Arjun Appadurai describes the Indian street as the space where “India eats, works, sleeps, moves, celebrates and worships. The street is a stage that rarely sleeps” (1987,14).

Local example of Karachi, the public space use by women on different areas of DHA. The hub of “open air” prostitution in Karachi city!




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