Indian cinema, over the years, has normalized abuse, objectification of women, and misogyny through love and romance. In a country where crimes and violence against women are at an all-time high, our films and television shows continue to preach that stalking or abusing a woman is okay if you “love” her, that women say “no” when they usually mean “yes” and that their consent is a myth.
It is appalling how these objectionable and atrocious scenes and dialogues managed to make it past the censor board. From uncalled-for rape jokes to clichéd and extremely offensive “wife jokes,” from irrelevant sexual innuendos to dialogues reeking of misogyny, Bollywood has led us down for several years now.
A very famous yet extremely problematic character, Chulbul Pandey from Dabangg who frequently takes the law into his hands, sets a dangerous precedent in an era where extrajudicial killings are rampant. Similarly, this also shows domestic violence, victim shaming or moral policing as permissible essentially reassure that audience that it is okay to indulge in such behaviour simply because their favourite stars have done it on a big screen.
In the movie Gunday, Bala and Bikram both fall in love with Nandita which causes a rivalry between them. This leads to Bala kidnapping Nandita to force her into falling in love with her. This not only shows how violence can make the other person feel superior but also that it is okay to use violence as a defence mechanism against women to achieve whatever they want.
Now onto this blockbuster movie that you all have probably heard of— Kabir Singh— is not only a hit but also one of the most misogynistic movies. A dialogue from that movie, which says, “You know these healthy chicks, they’re like teddy bears. A good looking chick, trust me, it’s the best combination.” This is extremely offensive and stereotypical. Calling women, ‘chicks’ is highly disrespectful, and referring to healthy women as ‘teddy bears’ is fat shaming. This dialogue is stereotypical, misogynistic, and glorifies fat shaming. Another dialogue is, “Preeti chunni theek karo.” Throughout the movie, Preeti and her classmates were wearing salwar-kameez because it is “against the Indian culture” to wear anything else. How many times have politicians let rape cases slide because there is something wrong with the way women dress nowadays?
Another movie, which is loved by all of you, Housefull 4, also has several misogynistic dialogues. For example, “Aur kya chupa rakha hai taikhaane mein?”— a dialogue spoken by Akshay Kumar. Is it appropriate to be making juvenile, double-meaning comments towards women and sexualizing them? While the audience may erupt into uproarious laughter listening to these in the theatre (sorry to burst your bubble), this is plain creepy, crass and inappropriate.
We started a new decade, in the hope for our country’s mindset to evolve as time passes, but it remains the most unsafe country for women. This isn’t surprising because our beloved Bollywood is the one to be promoting such misogynistic, sexist, and stereotypical acts all over India. Propagating rape jokes in a country where film stars are practically worshipped has caused our nation to be this dangerous. Now I don’t mean to offend anybody, but not only does this affect men but also women. Most women aren’t able to stand up for themselves because Bollywood shows that this is the natural behaviour of a man and its okay if men are doing this. While these are only some examples there are many more that promote this issue. Bollywood is one of the main reasons for our country to be filled with toxic masculinity.
– Kisha Goel, Amity International School, Noida