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

Kabir Singh Is Not New, Men Like Him Have Dominated Bollywood For Decades

Even before Bollywood as we know came into its existence, the role of women in mainstream cinema was divided into three major categories. A sister who will eventually be killed or raped, triggering her brother aka the hero to take revenge. A mother, preferably blind who will either lose her children or husband and get kidnapped by the villain triggering the hero to take the ‘law in his own hands’ and last but definitely not the least – the worst – the heroine who appears only in songs, preferably is the daughter of the villain, tied between a lecherous guy (daddy ki pasand) and the hero (daddy ka dushman), also has a high chance of getting kidnapped, and guess what?! Yes, you got it right – the kidnapping triggers our hero to fight.

One can hope that there are more layered female characters but there aren’t any. God forbid there are films which talk more or less about a woman’s perspective (that too about how she loves her husband but he is good for nothing or cheating on her), these films barely grab the limelight. Remember the 1993 movie Damini, about a rape survivor? The lead female character goes back to her husband, who was proudly vilifying her until the last 15 minutes of the movie. A major chunk of society still believes that the hero of the film was not Damini, or the woman who survived the heinous crime but the husband who ‘took her back’ and the lawyer who fought her case.

Post-1990s Bollywood had comparatively fewer ‘triggered heroes’ because they were busy being a creep and the guy who had to somehow win ‘his girl’ from her family and the society. The lack of agency of women in our cinema or whatever was left of it was murdered the day we sang along with Aishwarya Rai, consoling her brother Shah Rukh Khan to “hothon pe na, dil mein na hoenga” (a poetic way of saying no means yes).

Ironically, it took her the entire second half of the film to convince her brother about her own boyfriend. Told you, girls cannot make a decision or they will end up kicked out of the script. Good films with strong female characters were released, but just like in reality, these reel depictions were ignored and God forbid, if they show a woman to have a mind of her own, then they’d be categorised as not ‘family-friendly.’

Most of us would outright block people for messaging “Hi… will u fraandship me??” on Facebook or Instagram. Well, half of our Bollywood playlist sends out the same message by creepy heroes just saying it better with Javed Akhtar and Sahir Ludhianvi’s words. Do you really think you would be okay if you were visually impaired, and a random tourist guide (spoiler alert: who is also a terrorist. But it’s alright, you don’t know that.) sings “chand sifarish jo karta humari, deta wo tumko bata, sharam-o-haya ke parde giraake karni hai humko khata” (if the moon were to recommend me, it would tell you how I’d like to drop all decency and cross a line). If only you knew what this “khata” (transgression) means.

The heroine did kill the terrorist in this film and finally, we have strong-headed women who have a mind of their own. I was shocked to see people blaming Safeena (from Gully Boy) and Zoya (from Raanjhanaa) for being headstrong individual women who know the difference between right and wrong and act accordingly. Whereas, Kabir Singh fails to handle even a break-up. Just so you remember, your hero cheated on Safeena and Zoya lived all her life, running from a stalker, who was apparently your hero.

Kabir Singh couldn’t handle a ‘no’ and even five-year-olds today don’t carry that level of entitlement. You don’t own people, and if you want people to think you are an amazing person who loved ‘his girl’ to the point of self-destruction; you also kind of ruined your friend’s life who had to babysit you, hampered your family and their reputation. It is high time for Hindi cinema heroes to realise that the world doesn’t revolve around them and the background music, even with meaningful lyrics, doesn’t get you empathy.

I am glad that after a century of Hindi cinema, the audience is at least able to tell what is wrong with such films and in cases like that of Kabir Singh, call out the wrongdoers. Maybe, it is important for such films to release to provoke the audience to question the narrative. I know there are people who might support these characters and of course, the box office collections and biased reviews are a proof to it, but there is also hope with that sect which called out the film and graciously defended why we need to bring a change.

I have not talked about any discourse or isms, just some facts about popular cinema. This is entirely my own opinion, so you can definitely call me out if you disagree, but I just felt I had to say this. I am a huge Bollywood fan and the songs I have talked about are still the ones I frequently listen to but that’s just me settling down with the knowledge that what’s done is done and tomorrow, there will be something with equally good music but less cringe-worthy words. Peace out.

You must be to comment.

More from Debolina Datta

Similar Posts

By Sunny Anand

By Emtiaz anwar

By GetLegal India

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        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.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below