Movies from Hollywood as well as Bollywood are often based upon romantic affairs which unfold against the backdrop of a work related scenario. Some of these also touch upon the issue of sexual harassment at the work place.
Since there are major differences between the Western and the Eastern cultural milieu and values, movies churned out by Hollywood are invariably bold. On the other hand, those coming out of Bollywood are relatively tame affairs, often confining themselves to flirtatious bosses.
But whenever either has chosen to dive into the murky waters of sexual harassment at work place, the director concerned has been rather liberal in depicting the relationship between a CEO and a team member. Yes, true to style, both Hollywood and Bollywood have ensured that the proceedings willy-nilly end up on a positive note!
THE HOLLYWOOD TAKE
- 9 to 5 (Colin Higgins, 1980)
A comedy starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Dabney Coleman, the movie is about three women living out their fantasies of getting even with their autocratic and sexist boss. Eventually, they manage to successfully overthrow him, extracting sweet revenge in the process.
- Disclosure (Barry Levinson, 1994)
Instead of getting an expected promotion, Tom ends up reporting to a woman with whom he had an affair in his bachelor days. His new boss, not only dangerously sexy but also overtly ambitious, has climbed the corporate ladder by exerting undue influence on the CEO. She apparently tries to pick up where they left off but he just about manages to resist. Eventually, realization dawns that she intends to use Tom merely as a scapegoat to cover her technical misdeeds. He decides to file charges of sexual harassment, a development of which the company takes a jaundiced view. The movie starred Michael Douglas and Demi Moore.
The movie depicts a fictionalized account of Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co., the first sexual harassment class action lawsuit in the U.S. Josey’s refusal to give in to her male co-workers’ demands causes them to spread lies about her being promiscuous and trying to seduce them. When the company board does not take her charges of sexual harassment seriously, she decides to file a case. In court, an attempt is made to paint Josie as being promiscuous. Eventually, co-workers stand up to support Josey’s complaint. They are followed by more women, family members, and miners. With this, the mining company loses the case and is forced to pay the women for what they suffered, in addition to establishing a sexual harassment policy at the workplace.
Starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, the movie depicts a hard-nosed boss Margaret Tate terrorizing Andrew Paxton at a New York publishing house. To avoid deportation to Canada upon expiry of her visa, Margaret hatches a scheme to marry Andrew – he agrees if she’ll promise a promotion. She flies to Andrew’s home to Sitka in Alaska and realizes the essential values of decency and goodness his family stands for. After she runs off from the marriage ceremony, Andrew’s grandma feigns sickness and facilitates a matrimonial union between the two.
THE BOLLYWOOD TAKE
- Pati, Patni aur Woh (B R Chopra, 1978, ‘Husband, Wife and the Other One’)
Ranjit is a CEO, happily married to his lady-love Sharda. He exploits his poor secretary Nirmala by arousing her sympathy over a fake illness of his wife. Eventually exposed, he tries to mend his ways but ends up falling for the charms of his next secretary! The movie starred Sanjeev Kumar and Vidya Sinha.
Yet another comedy in which Ajay, a workaholic boss who neglects his wife Neema, is persuaded by his best friend to start a romance with his secretary, basically to bring some pep back into his seven-year old married life. The wife also decides to reciprocate the sentiment by taking up a job and then claiming to be getting close to her own boss. Eventually, Ajay realizes his mistake and they both live happily thereafter. The cast comprised Amol Palekar, Parveen Babi and Deepti Naval.
- Chandni (Yash Chopra, 1989, ‘Moonlight’)
Chandni (Sridevi) and Rohit (Rishi Kapoor) meet at a family wedding and fall for each other. Due to a misunderstanding, they get separated. Chandni shifts to another city and lands a job with a travel agency headed by Lalit (Vinod Khanna) who falls for her. He is already grieving over the loss of the love of his life and eventually ends up losing Chandni as well to her lover.
- Aitraaz (Abbas-Mustan, 2004, ‘Objection’)
The female boss Sonia (Priyanka Chopra) has the hot pants for Raj, a happily married subordinate. Raj resists her advances, with Sonia dragging him to court on a trumped-up attempt-to-rape charge. However, the subordinate has a lawyer wife who comes to his rescue, with the female boss committing suicide in the end. The movie was inspired by Disclosure.
- Inkaar (Sudhir Mishra, 2013, ‘Refusal’)
This one is Bollywood’s latest take on sexual harassment at work place. Based on gender politics and power play in a large advertising agency, the movie covers an investigation into a sexual harassment complaint filed by Maya (Chitrangada Singh) against Rahul (Arjun Rampal). Whereas the agency can obviously do without a scandal of this nature, both Maya and Rahul realize towards the end that they are in love with each other!
Story and screenplay writers for movies based on management related themes no longer need to scratch their heads to get new ideas for their scripts. Nor do they need to look around for a muse or even bother about the writers’ block. All they have to do is to build up on the juicy details of the sexploits of CEOs of various hues provided by the real corporate world and convert these into mega successes in the reel world.