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5 Glaring Examples Of How Bollywood Movies Take Gender Equality A Step Back​

Posted on June 8, 2015 in Girls Count, Sexism And Patriarchy, Taboos

By Kanika Katyal

In the society as we know it, women are reduced to nothing less than objects of transaction between the father and the husband.

As Luce Irigaray states, women are exchanged as “goods” between men. All of this only because a woman is seen as an economic liability. Being considered a ‘burden’ is one of the reasons for the aversion towards the birth of daughters.

Matters become worse when you consider the harsh reality of lack of property rights for women in India, and how time and again the popular media – cinema has perpetuated the idea of a woman being a liability.

Bollywood not only crystallizes new beliefs but also reaffirms old truths. We have often come across popular projection in films where women are displaced and outcast when they are believed to have transgressed the rules of their father’s or husband’s house. What’s more astounding is the fact that we have naturalised those responses, because the law has been unfair to women too.

Here’s a list of five scenes from popular Bollywood movies where women are banished from their household and rendered homeless – proving that more often than not, popular media has perpetuated the idea that equal rights are nothing but a sham.

1. Here’s a song from ‘Mother India’ which annunciates that a woman’s fate is to leave her childhood home to dwell in the husband’s abode. Her father’s house is not hers, and her husband’s house is not of her own, then what can she call her own?

2.In the movie ‘Anpadh’, Lajwanti is held responsible for her husband’s death, is abused and hurled out of the house. The belief is that the woman, who brings to an end the family line, deserves no place in the ‘family house’. The scene is a stark comment upon the alienation of widows.

3. The inter-relationship between ‘the home’ as a sacred territory and the social importance imputed to chastity is reflected here. The father dreads his haven to be polluted by the presence of a deflowered woman. In ‘Kya Kehna’, Priya is asked to leave the house by her father because she exercises her right to keep her baby, borne out of wedlock. There is no place for her in ‘his house’.

4. The father fears that Preeti’s rape would bring disrepute to the family, and would interfere in getting suitors for her three unmarried sisters. Here too, the notion of ‘ghar ki izzat‘ and the nest hold a close relationship. She could be anywhere, for all they care, but ‘this house’. She is forced to leave the house, with nowhere to go.

5. In ‘Lajja’, when Vaidehi takes a stand against her abusive husband, she is banished from her household. When she seeks shelter in her parents’ house in India, she’s rejected there too.

The question is, why is a woman asked to leave? And where is she supposed to go?
Sons are naturally assumed to inherit all property but what about the daughters?
Do you think such a representation would hold credence if women were guaranteed property rights by the constitution?

It’s time to act and challenge the status quo! Granting of legal rights is a huge step in women empowerment. It is a way of granting them complete agency, so they can follow up their choice with a course of action fearlessly. As Calvin Coolidge states, “ultimately property rights and personal rights are the same thing.