This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Avalokita Dutt. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

10 Reasons Why The Alia Bhatt Video On ‘Going Home’ Is Nowhere Near My Utopia

By Avalokita:

When I first watched Queen, I was joyous of the fact that here came Bollywood with its hangover of the love formula, and it problematized ‘love’ so authentically, catching the little details of how it many times is the oppressor. And then I saw Vikas Behl’s video of what was supposed to be my Utopia.

Really? Is being stared at part of my Utopia? Or playing dumb and ignorant of the problems I need to face every single day of my life? To begin with, these were just a few things that made me cringe. Before I go forth in the rant, let me take you down memory lane.

In 2012, when the people walked the streets of Delhi, demanding justice, a lot of discourses brewed in the cauldron. Some screamed Bharat Mata ki Jai, while some laughed at the ridiculousness of this elusive ‘mata’, which they were obviously not. Some said ‘kill and castrate the rapist’, some said at-least convict the rapist beyond your 24% conviction rate. Slowly, Bekhauf Azadi jostled for space in people’s minds. Could I unequivocally ask for freedom, even freedom from my husband’s constant need for surveillance? Freedom even from my father who wanted me to marry whereas I wanted to study? Could I even have the right to, knowing the health advisory, light up a cigarette, drink at a bar, and yet not be looked at as someone who was asking for it?

The cauldron burned.

This movement was the first time a dialogue was raised over one event, which began to encompass a lot of other things which were hidden away. The Supreme Court decided to live in the 1860s with regards to the LGBTQI rights, a courageous journalist lashed out against her boss and lent her politically valiant voice against what happened at workplaces every day to a lot of us. Custodial rapes, AFSPA, Rupam Pathak’s imprisonment, Sangh Parivar, Sri Ram Sena, Durga Vahini, a plethora of Modi brands, were all a part of the movement. And now, Bekhauf Azadi dynamically reinvents itself in Jadavpur University as Hok Kolorob.

We fought not only on the roads, not only for the women, the LGBTQI, not only for the employee of Tehelka, but we also fought within ourselves.

And then the market caught on, as it always does.

Suddenly, stories on women ’empowerment’ were sale-able, marketable, and profitable! And so, what filmmaker friends were warned against – women protagonists, became the hot selling cake. One day my story could be thrown in the bin. And the next day, when the news shows 1000s of young people standing bravely against watercannons, my story becomes the first thing the company will want to produce. I’m simplifying obviously, but you get the drift. Since ‘what will sell’ is just the drift, proclaimed as a prophecy. And then, money is put on it. It’s a constant gamble.

So then, an industry based on prophecies, cut off from the movement on the streets, dabbles in the preaching. Some are lapped up, some go way wrong. For instance, a goodish film called ‘Mardani’. The furore remains, why must the film with a solid female protagonist be called ‘Mardani? We were almost reclaiming even Jhansi ki Rani as Janani!

We were reinventing what it was to be a woman and a man, with a plethora of sexualities, with even the compartments of man and woman breaking free of themselves into human beings! We are even questioning whether its possible to live in a world where man and woman were suspiciously reduced representations of a person. The cauldron brews on volatile and inflammable.

But the problem comes when people detached from these inconvenient brewing cauldrons, conveniently sit back, watch, prophesise and try preaching to those who have been fighting, burning in this cauldron of vanities and travesties and heresies!

And so comes upon us, dropping straight from the cosmetic heavens of Vogue, a film on women empowerment. Which in the first place is a tickling irony. But the irony sharpens its edge when a film-maker who floored us with Queen, and his understanding of the acute manoeuvres of patriarchy within love, makes such a film. And moreover, fields it in as every woman’s Utopia.

This video though does other great things. It brings back to us questions that we might, in the adrenalin of the movements, have become complacent of.

1. Why do we need a helpless damsel in distress to justify her protection?

2. Why do we need protection to justify empowerment?

3. Why do we need to call upon chivalry, to appeal to the Indian Male and their virtues of considering this fight as worth fighting for?

4. Why must we forget about self empowerment? Seriously, she needed him to open the bonnet?

5. Ever wondered why ‘protection’ requires sexist conduct? She then has to be a damsel in distress, unable to fix her car. They dont need to be justified. Their mothers don’t call them at night to ask where they are. They are macho, prowling the streets, drunk of course, can’t help but harden when they look up her skirt. And yes, basically, she wont make it in life without the men?

6. Why do we need to redeem men with glad eyes? “They’re looking, jerking off on you… but see, wow! they’re dropping you home.”?

7. Why does women empowerment and its cinematic imagination get stuck in all of the above? Ill give you a situation. A woman loved. And then she fell out of love. He kissed her back one last time. Told her she was wonderful. Told her he will always love her. Told her, maybe he’ll break down, but will survive. Ill give you the counterpart, the dis-empowerment – He let her go, but followed her, stalked her everyday, inundated her phone/fb/classroom/chai tapri with recurring public humiliation, of how she used him, of how she was a slut etc.

Ill tell you what. The dis-empowering counterpart is a joke on Bollywood. That’s how the boy gets his girl. For Bollywood, that’s Prince Charming sweeping you off your feet.

Would Bollywood ever understand –
“Agar ek ladki bhaagti hai,
Toh zaruri nahi ki koi ladka bhi bhaaga hoga” (Alokdhanwa)

8. This recurrent need to justify the male position, He For She et al is hogwash. This is a newer, more tactful patriarchy we are going to be tied down to. Or maybe its way too old! Maybe Vikas Behl should’ve given credits to Cinderella. Good adaptation! Bad Story!

9. Get over trying to define/redefine what ‘Real’ men do, or what ‘Real’ women do. A lot lies in between. Its called Human. And I don’t need to call upon Manliness/Womanliness to justify or ever romanticise that. Set a human precedent! Beyond Men and Women. As we’ve seen in cases of many female athletes, the ‘realness’ of being a man/woman is rather oppressive!

10. A brother/Husband/Father/Mother/Sister/Friend/Boss/Teacher have all been brought up within this patriarchy. I am as socially conditioned to patriarchy as is my brother.

At every step, we must choose, fight it within ourselves. How many decisions are we trusting her with? Or how many decisions of her’s are we labelling as that of a Slut/Love Jihad/against the Khap/Against ‘Nature’/Against ‘tradition’/Against her own good or safety?

I dont need you to come and help me
Because I am beginning to see what’s tying us down
I need you to come and fight alongside me
Because your liberation is tied to mine
Or something like that!

Our message should be loud, clear and Bekhauf. This is not my Utopia, this is not the Utopia of the people you are trying to tap as your market. Not yet. Lets fight this within ourselves a little more. Hok Kolorob!

Save me from this brand of Bollywood Feminism!

You must be to comment.
  1. Shibesh

    I think you kinda sorta missed the point of the video.

    *offers cup of hot chocolate*

    This short film is about just your random face-in-a-sea-of-faces girls who gets abandoned and asks for help from the nearest human being. The nearest human beings happen to be perverted men with all-too-clear intentions to rape. But our girl doesn’t pick up on that. Does that make the consequences her fault? Not. In. A. Million. Gazillion. Years.

    And that’s what the video is trying to say. Every 30 seconds, Bahl puts her in a situation where our girl assumes the people helping her are kind-hearted and good-natured, but, in the same breath, through sound and suggestive framing, he shows us how wrong she might be. By doing that, he highlights the things that are wrong with us, the viewer, for subconsciously blaming the girl for being so naive. So what if she is? So what if she believes that people might actually have some good in them? It does not rationalize her being stared at, harassed or even raped. And that’s what the video is trying to say through the last line of text. “Can we give her the world she believes exists?”

    *refills hot chocolate*

    Now. Coming to your problems with the video. Emasculation. Getting stared at. Those are the tools Vikas uses to highlight that problem. If he *didn’t* show you 7 guys staring lewdly at a girl while she innocently asks for help, there would be no point to it. And yes, a strong woman can open her own bonnet. There is zero doubt about that. But this is probably a girl who hasn’t done it before. Who knows? Heck, I’ve never opened a bonnet before and would probably ask someone else to do it for me, if I had the chance. It all comes back to pitching our girl as a nice, optimistic human being while the world around her is predatory for no reason. It’s about talking to those predatory instincts through a 5-minute video.

    Hope this made sense, or clarified at least some of your doubts.



    1. Pooja

      Shibesh, I absolutely agree with you! The video didn’t speak to me the first time I watched it, but slowly it dawned on me that this is one of the gazillion scenarios in which an individual can find himself/herself.
      The girl being naive to such an extent may come across as a bad trait for some people, but it is just how she is. And no girl, however she is, naive or otherwise is not asking to get raped. That is the point of this video.
      I think this blog, goes on a rather aggressive path eventually ending up accusing Bollywood, which to some extent is responsible for gender stereotyping in India. But, that is just not the point here. I hope Ms. Avolika Dutt reconsiders her thoughts. This video is something that needs to happen, for real in our world.

    2. Varsha

      Beautifully put. That’s exactly what I took from the video.

    3. Concerned

      this is exactly what i understood and have nothing against the video. Need to point out that i am a girl, should that make more sense (!). I came here quite intrigued by the title, hoping to learn of something i might have potentially missed, but no..this is the same old pseudo feminist argument aiming to shoot down an attempt just for the heck of it. The short film plays around with a lot of elements to feed it to the kind of audience it is aimed at.

    4. Templetwins

      I am glad they called it utopia. Because in real world such naivety wouldn’t absolve one from personal responsibility and they would be considered stupid if they feel they live in a make-believe world like that of a Disney princess . The thing about stupidity is some people would have less sympathy for stupid people. It is not a crime to be stupid and people have a right to be one.

    5. Artika Raj

      You had me with the hot chocolate! Wait, does that mean you played to my girlish love for chocolates, if you did, that’s downright patriarchal and so not cool man. :p what a manipulator!
      Completely on board with what you said. There is something to be said for taking things at face value rather than twisting around and touching the nose the long way round. The video makes an obvious point about a real life situation and how we need to change the end result. In fact, halfway through even though i realised that the boys wouldn’t do anything, i was guilty of assuming they would/they could. Why? Well because they are 7 boys in a big car, look like they’ve been out late and well..hmm.. smoke?! That’s not stereotyping at all is it!!We are all guilty of the sins we preach against.
      Thanks Avlokita for sparking a great debate. That, i believe is the purpose of all good writing.

  2. Babar

    1. If you have watched the film, you will realize that it has been made to highlight women’s safety. And you can neither do it showing a man as the protagonist, nor a woman with bulging biceps. I think that is common sense.

    2. It isn’t about empowerment. The film is about women’s safety. You don’t even seem to have seen the film and you are beating around the bush with outrageous questions.

    3. That is because 1) It takes place in real life – men help women all the time 2) To make men somehow believe that if they take up feminism, they will benefit too, and this might save the dying movement.

    4. No. You just need men to house you, let you drive their car, take you to restaurants, pay for your shopping, buy you cosmetics, and take you on vacations, among a host of other things.

    5. So now you have a problem with a mother worrying for her daughter. With an increase in rape, I think a mother would be more worried for her daughter than her son. Furthermore, the men were not alone at night. Don’t you have something known as common sense?

    6. A little ungrateful, wouldn’t you say. Or perhaps men are on this planet to serve women, and still be victimized. Nothing a man ever does is sufficient for a woman. He dropped me home, so what, how dare he look at my body, even though I looked like I forgot to finish getting dressed.

    7. The only thing that got ‘stuck’ is your lack of common sense. Men are not here to serve you and please you, and then put up with your whining and complaints. Get out of your fantasy and welcome to the real world. Grow up.

    8. If a man every helps you in life, either refuse to take his help or accuse him of using his ‘male position’, if you are true to what you say.

    9. Next time a woman is in need of help, I guess a man should rethink what ‘real’ men do. A woman should also, before asking for help, think twice about how ‘real’ women should behave, because now they have someone dictating that for them.

    10. Patriarchy? Yes. A man going out of his way to help another human being in need is patriarchy. Reverse the situation and you would certainly not have had a problem with it. Men-hating in effect.

    1. Anuradha

      Babar, Wait, did you just say “even though I looked like I forgot to finish getting dressed?” So short skirt and tank means men should stare / entitled to? hah. I think you just killed your own argument here!

    2. Templetwins

      Oh that staring argument again! Yes men/women will stare at anything that seems attractive/odd/curious to them. How you feel about that is irrelevant.

    3. Babar

      Anuradha, you failed to understand my comment. Lets take another look at point 6 written by the author.

      6. Why do we need to redeem men with glad eyes? “They’re looking, jerking off on you… but see, wow! they’re dropping you home.”?

      Needless to day, it is dripping with ingratitude. The message conveyed by her and clear and simple – It does not matter that a group of men took the pain of helping me reach home safely, it does not matter if they were selfless, it does not matter that they cared, I am going to whine about why they looked at my body.

      The truth is, women also look at good looking men, and if a man shows his toned, muscular body, then women will also stare. The author is caught in the web of her own hypocrisy. Reverse the scenario. Should a man complain if a woman helps her because she looked at his body?

      Also, her question about redeeming men with glad eyes if filled with hate. Furthermore, the part about ‘jerking off’ is unnecessary, and further fuels hate. I am sure you will agree.

  3. AJ

    You think the utopia video is talking about actually involves women being stared at? Please watch the video again. The utopia would have men not staring at her. It is not AGAINST women safety, it is a video FOR women safety!

  4. UFF

    “4. Why must we forget about self empowerment? Seriously, she needed him to open the bonnet?”

    Are you being serious ??? Opening bonnet herself = empowerment.
    Calm yo teets mama

  5. Anu

    I see where you are coming from but you are reading between the lines a bit too much. Yes we should look beyond just the concept of males and females.. As humans you say.. But this video just shows that in today’s world an innocent girl like that could easily get in a dangerous situation. It is just not about those men there.. Straight men will always be attracted to beautiful girls and I think this video shows that in a utopian society they won’t be thinking of her clothes as an invitation to rape and if there is any situation where they are in a position to help her they will do that instead of taking advantage of that situation. As far as opening a bonnet is concerned, I think we should try and stop to divide the chores as womanly and manly. I might not know how to fix a broken car but I might be able to fix my electronic appliances. The more we talk about it.. Even if saying like you did, the more attention we give to these matters

  6. Babar

    Really? Is being stared at part of my Utopia?

    No. But women staring at good-looking men is fine. Being a hypocrite is part of your utopia. Men leaving their seats for women all the time – when was the last time a woman left her seat for a man? Being selfish is part of your utopia. When the Titanic was sinking, it was men who said, “women and children first,” clearly knowing that they were going to die, and could have chosen to save themselves. Being ungrateful is part of your utopia. Men shower money on women, yet put up with their whines. Complaining is part of your utopia.

    Maybe Vikas Behl should’ve given credits to Cinderella. Good adaptation! Bad Story!

    It is men who propose to women, it is men who ask for dates, it is men who seek a bride – why don’t women propose, ask men out, and women’s parents go around looking for grooms. The truth is, equality is only applicable when it works in favour of women. Furthermore, there are many women with poor academic credentials who get married to rich men if they are remotely good looking, and women marry men earning more than them anyway – Men who are ‘well-settled’. Have you ever seen a woman marry a man poorer than her? So much for Cinderella!

    Could I unequivocally ask for freedom, even freedom from my husband’s constant need for surveillance?

    Can men ask for freedom from their wives constant urges to buy clothes, cosmetics, sandals, purses, jewellery, spa, beauty saloons, pedicures, manicures, vacations, holidays, while they spend money like water, and use their husbands like an ATM. Men are ATMs, drivers, porters, dildos, and a host of other things for women, but dare not question a woman – you are putting her under surveillance. She can even have you jailed in a false dowry, rape, assault, or battery charge. Beware!

    1. Panda

      “when was the last time a woman left her seat for a man?”
      Being a woman, I’ve offered my seat numerous times to men who are either old or tired. I see no reason to do so if they do not meet the above criteria. In the same way, I’ve offered my seat to elderly or pregnant ladies who I saw standing. Who you offer your seat to should not depend on their gender. Rather it should depend on whether or not they are in need of it.

      “Men shower money on women” “Can men ask for freedom from their wives constant urges to buy clothes” “Men are ATMs”
      You seem to have conveniently forgotten about the concept of dowry which has been wrangled out of women since ancient times. Harrassment, (physical and psychological) of the woman by her in-laws and husband who demand an excesssively high dowry is not unheard of. In fact it is one of the most common scenarios today.

      Moreover, you also seem to think that women don’t have jobs and that we exist in some kind of skewed world where only men are the bread winners of the family. We are more than capable of paying for our own “clothes, cosmetics, sandals, purses, jewellery, spa, beauty saloons, pedicures, manicures, vacations, holidays”, Babar.

      I fail to understand your mentality. In some articles, you attack working women as being overly independent and neglecting the needs of their family and children. On the flipside, you attack housewives as being cesspools that drain the wealth of their husbands. Pick one argument rather than trolling every single article here. You diminish my joy of reading thoughtful, well written articles with your inane, trashy arguments.

    2. May

      “You diminish my joy of reading thoughtful, well written articles with your inane, trashy arguments”

      Oh we can see the joy you referred to , We get it, You are the “bash him up” person.
      When you are done dreaming re read his Exaggerated REPLY to the Exaggerated article.

      Your First Para was parroted off Babar, It serves no purpose.

      You are guilty of the trashy vain argument here.
      He played Candid with the Author.

    3. Fem

      Surprises surprises! We have a Babar supporter finally. And what do you know!!… Even he/she does not make sense!

    4. chandrakant sharma

      Hahahaha last part is really hillarious

    5. prabal

      a brave answer which is going to give u a lots of criticism… but well said !!

  7. Cheri An

    I am all in for equality and stuff…but to be honest I am sick of this self righteous nitpicking feminazism bull crap. I guess its the estrogen which compels you to ‘skin the hair’ Baal ki khaal nikalna? (shields up).
    All I am saying is, could you be just more nonchalant about something that seems pointless to you, rather than start boiling and making noise like a kettle?
    Could you be just more tolerant and little less sensitive that even being looked at may hurt you?
    Could you not be a part of the problem, rather be a part of solution…how about just do your basic duty to the society and pass on to your kids about your lessons?
    Could we all just try and hold the reins of the reform at a parsonal/familial level and not let media take over it. Cause we don’t want money guiding the path to equality now, do we?

  8. chandrakant sharma

    Gr8 thing to read, I had not watched the video but the crux of the article is clear and simple. Self empowerment it doesn’t mind either you are man or woman.

  9. prabal

    A MAN and his son were once going with their Donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said: “You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?” 1
    So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.” 2
    So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other: “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.” 3
    Well, the Man didn’t know what to do, but at last he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor Donkey of yours—you and your hulking son?” 4
    The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the Donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole and the Donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned. 5
    “That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them:

  10. Summer

    I started reading the article out of curiosity and was kinda hoping it would turn out to be a good one but well, halfway through it had me going “Erm… Ok, what is this about again!?”
    I feel the video has been taken completely out of perspective. It was just the makers’ way of conveying how sad it is that we live in a world (country?) where people who trust in the general goodness of people are proved wrong more often than not (and that this is not how it should be).
    I went through the complete thread of comments and I must say Shibesh’s is the only one making sense (a whole lot of it at that). What you said is exactly how I feel about this.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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