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Valentine’s Day: Have Bollywood films been guilty of legitimising sexism and stalking?

Love is in the air and all over the world, people are celebrating Valentine’s Day today with so much joy and fanfare. Bollywood is known for making quintessential romantic films and love is the heart and soul of many Hindi films ever since its inception, isn’t it? The millennials have grown up watching films like ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’, ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, ‘Kaho Na Pyaar Hai’, ‘Veer Zaara’ and umpteen number of other films, where romance is the core theme.

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But, the Hindi film industry has also rationalised and normalised stalking, sexism, bigotry, misogyny inadvertently or intentionally most of the times. We are living in the times of #MeToo and worldwide there is a great debate going on around women’s safety at the workplace and in other spheres. Bollywood films have really given legitimacy to men stalking and harassing women just to prove their love and fake machismo.

Let’s take the example Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla starrer ‘Darr’, where SRK is getting paranoid and is going to an extreme extent to woo Juhi. The film’s iconic dialogue ‘KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK…….Kiran’ might have become the stuff of legends, but it was a very disturbing and terrible example of displaying your love.

Salman Khan is known for his daredevilry and large-heartedness, but he has been a habitual offender when it comes to giving legitimacy to stalking and sexism. In Satish Kaushik’s ‘Tere Naam’, Salman is hell-bent on proving his love for Bhumika Chawla and it is a very sorry sight to see.

Again in ‘Dabangg’, he is telling Sonakshi Sinha that he can get his way anyhow and this is the crux of the problem when it comes to treating women as commodities. Salman’s exact dialogue was “Pyaar se de rahe hai, rakh lo, varna thappad maar ke bhi de sakte hai”.

Salman Khan has done some horrendous sexist films over his career.

Then this dialogue from Indra Kumar’s ‘Grand Masti‘ is so crude and is trivialising the serious issue of rape. “Balatkar se yaad aaya, meri biwi kahan hain?”. Rape is not a laughing matter and how can anyone joke about it? I still get the idea that filmmakers have not learned any lessons despite Nirbhaya gangrape of Delhi in December 2012, which brought millions of people to protest in Delhi.

“Marriage se pehle ladkiyan sex object hoti hain aur marriage ke baad they object to sex.”- This particular gem is from Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor starrer ‘Kambakhatt Ishq’. The hideous list of sexist and vulgar dialogues from films is unending and it shows the maker’s mental bankruptcy and total disregard for the female gender.

Art especially films are representing our society. The item songs in the Hindi film are yet again objectified and used to titillate the viewers. India of the 21st century is demanding equality and women are not just there to woo and conquer upon. It is not cool when an actor is chasing around a girl running around trees and expects her to fall in love.

Our filmmakers have to get their priorities right and move on with times. It is the responsibility of writers, directors, actors, producers and also of actresses to stop this barbaric practice of sexism and objectification of women just for a few whistle worthy moments.

Time has come for films to not normalise sexual harassment, sexual innuendo, rape jokes and please treat women as equal and worthy citizens. The so-called big boys club have to get their act together and set a right example on how they make and promote their films.

Valentine’s Day is all about expressing and telling your partner how much you love them. Hopefully, Bollywood also is an important stakeholder in the scheme of things and we certainly don’t want another round of #MeToo to expose people.

Also Read: Why are Indian filmmakers hell-bent on ruining classics?

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