By Sushmita Singh:
“Ladki ke ‘naa’ mei bhi ‘haa’ chhupi hoti hai,” (When a girl says ‘no’, there is a hidden ‘yes’ in there) is a dialogue we’ve seen in our lives, via films, memes, jokes etc.
Out of the several ‘life-altering’ things that Indian mainstream, commercial cinema has taught us, stalking, objectifying, harassing, ‘not-taking-no-for-an-answer’ are just a few of the largely practiced preachings.
From “Rehhna Hai Tere Dil Mei” (starring R. Madhavan and Dia Mirza) to “Raanjhana” (starring Dhanush and Sonam Kapoor), how well have the blockbusters glorified the shameful act of stalking! And guess what, at the time they were released, and still, they were/are loved by a large number of people. And that, my friend, is the problem that I have with Bollywood.
Why is it, that the female vocabulary is never the same as the male vocabulary, in the Hindi cinema?
Do the filmmakers take the quote “Men are from mars, and women are from venus” too seriously? And if they do, do they think it’s sending the right message, by means of glorifying the stalker syndrome?
I do not mean to sound harsh, but, here is when it’s the acceptable situation to ask the people of Bollywood, “Tumhaare ghar mei maa-behen nahi hai kya?” (Don’t you have a mom or sister at home?) and by that question I only want to know why couldn’t they possibly be familiar with the female (and otherwise universally, ‘unisexually’ accepted and practiced) vocabulary already, whilst being in the receiving end of the “No.”
In a country like ours, cinema has always had a ground-breaking impact on the audiences with the fashion, the body-image, the beauty ideals, the exotic locations, etc., and that gives a whole lot of power in the hands of the filmmakers.
Imagine having the power to shape the public opinion, for once! It’s overwhelming, by all means. And a matter to associate pride and responsibility with.
A movie that was released in the theatres recently, challenged the conventional glorification of the poorly handled male-ego, and set the records straight when it comes to consent: “Pink”. You know, as a feminist that I am, I really think the plot could’ve been better, and the message could’ve been delivered in a far better manner. But, I’d forgotten that, in a country like India, where rape culture and consent doesn’t exist in books, it’s going to take a while for the masses to absorb all of it at once. It’ll take time, for the audiences to understand the message.
Hopefully, there will come a time, when eve-teasing, stalking and harassing will be looked at like the heinous and troubling acts that they are. But, to get there, we need more movies that promote the principles of consent and preach about rape culture. Not five, not ten. Hell, not even 15! We need more than that! Because only then are we going to have that idea nailed into the minds of everybody who’s been taught to believe otherwise.
So, dear filmmakers, stop what you’re doing, and help us now and in the coming decade (because that’s how long it’ll take to set things right).
It’s time to break this twisted language barriers amongst the sexes.