Earier in the 1980s and 90s, there was blatant sexism, racism, casteism and other forms of discrimination in Bollywood movies. However, even today, in a bid to be woke, Bollywood often showcases its internalised bigotry. Often, marginalised communities becoming victims of, what I consider, Bollywood’s saviour syndrome. A few movies that confirm this are:
1. Madam Chief Minister: The yet-to-be-launched movie is already showing us, through its poster and trailer, a Dalit story being exploited and told from a savarna view. The movie reinforces a number of stereotypes. One of them is the lead actress holding a jhaadu (broom) in her hands on the movie poster.
2. Laxmii: The movie was shamed for making a mockery out of trans lives. The movie not only made a joke of trans identities, it also cast a cishet male actor for its main character, a trans woman. To put this in perspective, imagine the uproar if the movie were based on Muhammad Ali’s life titled Muhammad, and he were played by a white man. You and I would both have noted that down as overt racism and an instance of denied opportunity to the African-American community. Isn’t it the same with the trans community as well?
3. Dabangg: I could make an unending list of movies that objectify women and reduce them to their body. However, Dabangg takes the cake, with its multiple item numbeWors that objectify women’s bodies and enforce unrealistic body standards on them. Also, the movie includes multiple dialogues that project female characters as inferior because of their gender.
4. Fanaa and Kurbaan: Movies such as Fanaa and Kurbaan constantly reinforce Islamophobia by portraying Muslims as terrorists. These movies creates stereotypical villain characters and identifies them as Muslim terrorists. This may not seem like a big deal, however, the light in which a community is represented — whether positive or negative — in the media plays a larger role in forming the opinion of the masses.
5. Bala: A presumably “woke” cast indulges in colourism in the movie by making the female lead done a look that makes her skin tone look 3-4 shades darker. A huge part of the movie was based on the struggles of a dark-skinned girl. A skewed representation dark skin in movies makes it another victim of Bollywood’s saviour syndrome.
6. Golmaal: The movie makes a joke out of people with disabilities. One of the characters in the movie has speech impairment, which is projected in a comical light; the character is often bullied in the movie for the same. Again, representation matters. A child watching the movie will think that it’s alright to bully someone with a disability.
That is the last I have for now, but I am definite there is a long list of movies I have missed. Additionally, many popular personalities in the industry have bigoted opinions and often voice them in public. Bollywood needs to up its game and understand where it is going wrong.