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Posts Tagged ‘Misogyny’

The #MeToo allegations which have popped up recently in Bollywood go on to show the extent to which the virus of the infamous Director’s Couch Syndrome has not only permeated our entertainment industry but also morphed into a more disgraceful version of itself.

Perhaps a part of the solution lies within Bollywood itself. The gender insensitivity which is showcased and glorified in our movies is something which leaves us gasping for some innovative scripts. Exceptions are there. But these remain just exceptions.

When it comes to winning the affection of a heroine, a typical Bollywood hero spares no effort. He charms. He dazzles. He pursues. He flexes his rippling muscles. He shows off his biceps. He chases away a gang of baddies who try to harass his lady love. He poses as a well-endowed person. He even threatens and imposes himself.

Our heroes are adept at expressing their emotions in a song and dance routine. It would be worth our while to look up some such songs which showcase different shades of romancing our Bollywood heroes use to fulfill their romantic ambitions.

When chivalry works

The importance of a chivalrous approach towards impressing one’s lady love was etched out in the movie Shagird (1967). Sample this song:

 

The reluctant wooer

A hero of this kind is at one end of the spectrum. He could either believe that he is not good enough for the lady of his dreams, or is simply not interested in a romantic alliance. The reason could either be social, financial, or the phase through which he happens to be passing by. The burden of convincing him otherwise falls on the heroine. There are occasions when he does not mind getting wooed, though!

Saath Saath (1982)

 

Woh Saat Din (1983)

 

Dil Chahta Hai (2001)

 

The sacrificing lover boy

The guiding principle of such a wooer is that when it comes to bringing some sunshine into the life of the heroine, no sacrifice is small. There are times when such selfless love is shown to lead to a failure in the relationship.

Sangam (1964)

 

Teesri Kasam (1966)

 

Ek Vivah Aisa Bhi (2008)

 

The post-marriage wooing

In many cases, love blossoms in the post-marriage phase. The hero goes to great lengths to win over the affections of his wife.

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999)

 

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008)

 

Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015)

When a choice has to be made between a pre-matrimonial lover and a husband, the heroine keeps social sensitivities in mind and walks into the arms of her husband. Movies like Gumrah (1963), Woh Saat Din and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam attest to this trend in the past.

The empathetic wooer

The heroine has just had a rather traumatic experience at the hands of her spouse. But support is at hand, in the form of an empathetic hero. At times, a soulful song makes the heroine fall into his loving embrace.

Guide (1965)

 

Arth (1982)

 

The quintessential romanticist

He is soft and gentle. He is often diffident but tender in his approach. His soft power often wins over the heart of the heroine in question. The impression he conveys is that chivalry works well.

Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962)

 

Baton Baton Mein (1979)

 

Hum Aapke Hain Koun (1994)

 

The playful wooer

The value system of a hero of this kind permits him to tease the heroine a wee bit, hoping that he would not only be noticed but also accepted as a suitable candidate for a romantic alliance.

Aradhana (1969)

 

1942 A Love Story (1994)

 

The dashing lover

He is the one who believes that a relentless chasing of the party of the other part would bring home the bacon. Irrespective of the time and the place, he continues with his efforts with gay abandon. Flowers, chocolates and even pumpkins come to the aid of the dashing hero. He is so very self-obsessed that he is clueless about the career aspirations of his lady love. Needless to say, he wins, thereby conveying a message to all wannabe lovers that mild aggression in pursuing the heroine indeed works.

Jaanwar (1965)

 

Sholay (1975)

 

Satte Pe Satta (1982)

 

Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya (2017)

 

The tormentor

At the other end of the spectrum, we have heroes who suffer from an excessive dose of supreme self confidence. They treat the heroine as chattel and think nothing of even terrorising her to get results. Physical intimidation is taken recourse to. Stalking becomes the norm. Threats of rape not only get made but even get executed.

Amar (1954)

 

Dil (1990)

 

Darr (1993)

 

A wide spectrum of chivalry

Bollywood movies offer a very wide range of the kind of treatment that women receive at the hands of their wannabe or ex-lovers.

If a Rajendra Kumar in Dil Ek Mandir (1963) sacrifices his life trying to save the husband of his ex-girl friend, a Dilip Kumar in Amar (1954) rapes Nimmi, a principal character in the movie. If a dacoit played by Sunil Dutt abducts a courtesan in Mujhe Jeene Do (1963), a Good Samaritan played by Dharmendra marries a lady who has been sexually abused by a prince in Satyakam (1969).

If a Kamal Hasan provides shelter and care to an unfortunate accident victim in Sadma (1983), a Vivek Oberoi mistreats his wife in Sathiya (2002). If a Sanjeev Kumar does not get distracted by a lady in the buff in Aandhi (1975), a Manoj Bajpeyi abducts and forcibly marries a damsel in distress, and even persuades her to change her religion, in Pinjar (2003). It is another matter he eventually develops a soft corner for his wife.

Distorted messaging

When heroines happen to respond favourably to either dashers or tormentors, the message conveyed to the audience is crystal clear – that a macho image and a misogynist attitude help in romantic pursuits. Add to this the tendency of our directors to objectify women so as to keep the box office collections alive and kicking, and the recipe for a wrong kind of social messaging is ready.

Since films influence the society in a big way, our dream merchants would do well to churn out more movies which have gender sensitive portrayals. Scripts which are based on negative societal attitudes towards women could be readily avoided.

In a study conducted by IBM India, gender stereotypes in as many as 4,000 Bollywood movies released between 1970 and 2017 were examined. Of these, researchers came up with only 30 movies in the last couple of years where such stereotypes were broken.

According to the study, females were the central characters in 11.9% of Hindi movies released between 2015 and 2017. Back in the 70s, this figure was closer to 7%.

The solution within

The power-puff girls of Bollywood have recently done well in such movies as Jalpari, Gulaab Gang, Queen, NeerjaPink, Nil Battey SannataMargarita with a StrawMardaani, Parched, Jai Gangaajal, Ki and Ka, Dear ZindagiAkira, and the like.

Our future generations cannot be made to live in a world where men are encouraged to harass and rape women. Sexist behaviour is passé. It no longer attracts women. What does is unalloyed chivalry, where the old notions of a patriarchic mindset find no place; where violence and intimidation has no place.

This could be a solution to the #MeToo tsunami that appears to have hit Bollywood in the recent past. Perhaps Bollywood can start a self-certification process which rates movies based on their gender sensitivity.

Charity begins at home, as they say.

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/10/21/bollywood-divas-join-in-at-metoo

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/01/06/the-powerpuff-girls-of-bollywood

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/women-through-the-bollywood-lens-part-1)

 

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