In the post Me Too era, when films like ‘Kabir Singh‘ that blatantly glorifies misogyny becomes a huge hit then it sends out a red signal. The film’s success is a testimony to the fact that the audience doesn’t have any qualms in watching and enjoying such a deeply problematic character on the silver screen. Normalising violence in the garb of romance is not going to help in making the society sensitive.
It’s almost a failed cause to make people see what is wrong with a film and a character like Kabir Singh. For the longest time, our films have celebrated Heroes who are immune to any kind of pain emotional or physical. For our Hindi film heroes shedding a tear in front of others is an act of shame that doesn’t go along with his masculinity. Rarely we come across films that showcase the vulnerability of the male characters. Heroes who are emotional and vulnerable just like anyone of us are rarely seen in our films.
Thankfully we do have some beautiful films whose male characters don’t fit into the definition of “conventional Bollywood hero”. On International Men’s Day, here I list down some of the male characters from our films that we all should actually look up to.
‘The Sky Is Pink’: Niren Chaudhary (Farhan Akhtar)
Shonali Bose’s biographical drama ‘The Sky Is Pink’ is one of the most beautiful and tender films that released this year. Apart from Aditi Chaudhary (Priyanka Chopra) and Aisha (Zaira Wasim’s character), it was Farhan Akhtar’s character, Niren Chaudhary that literally won our hearts. For Niren accepting his wife’s intuition is an act of bravery. His character showcases what true and unconditional love looks like. He is a loving husband, a caring father and someone who will go to any length for his family’s happiness. Aren’t our fathers just like him? I could totally see my father in Niren. And it was such a refreshing change that instead of ordering around his wife, he is seen following her instructions throughout the film. He has no qualms in letting his wife wear the pants in their relationship. In fact, he is thankful for having someone like Aditi taking charge of his life. How often do we see a hero so real and vulnerable like him?
‘Chhichhore’ – Anirudh Pathak aka Anni (Sushant Singh Rajput)
Nitesh Tiwari’s ‘Chhichhore’ was another deviation from Bollywood’s tried and tested formula that no matter what the hero should always win at the end. It was really inspiring to see our hero lose in the end despite all the hard work that he puts in. It was such a realistic portrayal of life and not just a sugar-coated version of how life is supposed to be. The film showed us how it is okay to lose sometimes and instead of breaking down from such a failure one should look at it as a lesson.
‘Laila Majnu’: Qais (Avinash Tiwary)
In most of the Bollywood films, we see that if the Hero and Heroine are in love then they don’t give a damn about the world and simply focus on their happiness. They either elope or emotionally blackmail their families. In this film, Qais (played by Avinash Tiwary) is asked by his lover to wait since her family situation doesn’t allow her to run away with him. He like a true blue lover happily agrees to wait for the right time (though unfortunately that time never arrives). He never forces her to leave her house and elope with him. In fact, he tells Laila that their love story is already written and no matter what they are destined to end up together. Though I agree in the first part of the film, Qais appears to be a borderline stalker, but in the second half, he showcases some redeeming qualities.
‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga’: Sahil Mirza (Rajkummar Rao)
We have seen Rajkummar Rao play some of the most lovable characters in the recent time and one of them was in Shelly Chopra Dhar’s ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga’. Sahil has feelings for Sweety (Sonam Kapoor) but once he comes to know that she doesn’t love him, he never tries to come in her way. In fact, he tries everything in his capability to help Sweety win her love and family’s support. We need more male characters who don’t believe in forcing their love on the female characters. Because of we all no longer live in the times where “Tu haan kar ya naa kar tu hai meri Kiran” was considered to be a love anthem.
‘Tanu Weds Manu’: Manoj “Manu” Sharma (R Madhavan)
Not many of you would say that Manu (Madhavan) was an ideal man in ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ because he kisses Tanu when she is intoxicated. I absolutely agree with that part but in the hindsight, Manu showcases so many other traits that we badly need in our men. He is soft-spoken, well-mannered, respects women, and doesn’t believe in the concept of violence. Now, don’t you think we need more men like him in our society? More than Tanu it was Manu’s subtle and sensitive character that we all fell in love with.
‘Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na’: Jai Singh Rathore (Imran Khan)
After watching this beautiful rom-com, all-girls wished that they want a friend or a lover like Jai (played by Imran) in their lives. Sweet, understanding, averse to controversies and fights, these are some of the qualities we rarely see in our commercial film’s male leads. Jai is the kind of man we need to call our hero and find admirable. In the kind of time, we are living in we need more heroes like Jai.
‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’: Vanraj (Ajay Devgn)
In our Indian society, it’s the women’s prerogative to look after the happiness of her husband. She has to be this sati-savitri who always keeps her husband and family’s welfare ahead of her own happiness. Thankfully in ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’, we saw Ajay Devgn play this sensitive and understanding husband of Nandini (Aishwarya). When Vanraj comes to know that his wife Nandini loves Sameer he decides to walk away from her rather than guilt-trip her.
Let’s hope in the coming time we get to see more and more such lead characters who don’t believe in the philosophy of ‘Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota’ and in fact wear their emotional vulnerability as a badge of honour.
Cinephile. Bibliophile. Pluviophile. Selenophile. Autophile. Aesthete. Blood group- Tea positive. Poetry lover. Sucker of rom-coms.
PS: Sharmaji ki Ladki sucks at writing bios.
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