09/01/2015 8:11 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST

Pants Up, Shades Down

Indian policemen on duty watch election results on television at a counting station in New Delhi, India, Friday, May 16, 2014. India's main Hindu nationalist party was making early gains Friday as officials began counting votes following the country's massive national election, with the opposition looking to end the ruling Congress party's decade-long reign. The Election Commission was expected to announce the results later in the day. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

In what is seen as a bad influence of Singham and Dabangg, the Uttar Pradesh Police decided to ban policemen from wearing low-waist trousers and tight-fitting uniforms, saying that the cops were becoming, well--too filmy. The directive also ordered women cops to wear shirt and pants instead of a salwar kameez or a saree. So if you are a woman, a tiny part of you would be delighted. After all, it is not often that a word like 'ban' is used for the men folk. Dont judge me, but a wicked part of me wants to ask the classic telly question, "How do you feel about this ban?"

Calling it a 'panchayati farmaan' one police officer allegedly said, "The police chief has no right to decide how to wear a uniform." Aww. Hurts. What is it that they say about the shoe being on the other foot?

Perhaps, the directive has something to do with two constables in Agra who were suspended after a dressing down for dressing up in Dabangg style shades. I am no one to comment on sacred uniform directives, but how does one differentiate between a well-fitting uniform and a tight-fitting uniform? What is 'tight-fitting' for a retired officer from the era of 'Hathiyaar daal do, police ne tumhe chaaro taraf se gher liya hai' might be 'well-fitting' for a young recruit who has grown up wearing lowriders?

Which, of course, doesn't mean that cops should dress provocatively, or behave like movie stars because a cop exposing a cleavage of another variety and dancing on the street is not a welcome thought. So, who decides where the trousers need to sit? As long as a cop can cut to the chase without exposing his jockey collection, a ban on 'low-riders' sounds a bit harsh. Unless there is some connection between pulling up the pants and lifting the minds?

Those who think we are pioneers when it comes to banning dresses, will be happy to know that the state of Louisiana in the USA made an attempt to ban low-rise jeans in 2004, but the bill was rejected in the House. Back home, Bollywood takes the cake when it comes to stereotyping baton bacons. A smartly dressed cop is, more often than not, an honest angry hero fighting the system (Vinod Khanna in Amar Akbar Anthony, Amitabh Bachchan in Zanzeer, Manoj Vajpayee in Shool or Ajay Devgun in Gangajal), and a cop with an ample waistline is a bumbling buffoon (Tiku Talsania in Andaaz Apna Apna, Jhonny Lever in Hello Brother, Shammi Kapoor in Love Story). It doesn't come as a surprise because the moment we board a filmy flight, reality's baggage is the first to go missing.

Ridiculed by the politicians (polishing behenji's sandals) and pilloried for taking bribes, it is not difficult to understand why young policemen hanker after the Dabangg image. While the rest of the forces carry an aura of confidence and compassion, our policemen need an image makeover. Some of it is perhaps possible through the long pending police reforms and not so much from the directives on where the trousers should rest. I don't know how or when this will happen, but what I know is that thappad se dar nahi lagta saheb, ban se lagta hai.

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