When I saw the trailer of Kabir Singh on TV, I knew it was bad news. I haven’t seen the Telugu original, but the 2-minute clip on TV said a lot about what I could expect from the movie.
After the release, there was a mighty uproar about the movie. Some said it was deeply misogynistic, while others, including the director, said that it was alright for a man as brilliant as the hero to do it.
But the final nail in the coffin came when I heard that my college-going brother had already watched it twice and even looked up to the character as a role model.
This is frightening – really scary. We have so many impressionable minds looking at the silver screen, thinking that it’s absolutely okay to bully everyone around. There are medical students who think it’ll be alright if you drink and operate on a patient.
But this is just one movie in a slew of movies that Bollywood has been turning out since forever. Here are some examples of how Bollywood movies make toxic masculinity normal.
Stalking the heroine is fine
If the male lead likes a girl, it’s perfectly okay for him to follow her around. Even if she says no. Even if she is irritated. Even if she raises her hand. The reason for liking a girl can be so shallow, you’d puke. The typical scenario is the hero seeing the heroine at the bus stop/college and immediately liking her. Dude, she may be a serial killer for all you know. In fact, they should make a movie like this. Will be interesting!
Bashing up other males
The next step would be to bash up any other male who even dares to come close to the heroine. In other words, a make and female can only have a romantic relationship. Friendships are for sissies.
The girl needs to be protected
After all, girls are supposed to be weak. They cannot protect themselves. Pepper sprays are not present in the Bollywood universe. All women need a male to protect them. The male could look malnourished, but he’s a male after all. After such protection (and probably a song or two), the female will inevitably fall in love with the protector AKA hero. Please keep in mind that all the threat was in the hero’s mind; the heroine was irritated by both. Then the heroine is made to feel guilty for ignoring his overtures. That’s another story!
The hero doesn’t need consent to do anything. He can peek in when the heroine is changing or having a bath (remember “Pal bhar ke liye’s” Dev Anand and Hema Malini?) It’s all brushed off as a comedy track. A divorced husband can spy on his ex-wife’s naked body, even though she has explicitly said that she doesn’t love him (Chachi 420). Because, consent is for the apes, not human males.
The overprotective brother
While the hero may be stalking another woman, woe betide some man who does it on his sister. Hark back to point 3. He is the protector of the sister. If she’s in an abusive relationship after marriage due to dowry issues, the brother makes it his duty to pay whatever they are asking for rather than questioning the whole system.
So many people are seeing these movies. So many try to emulate what’s on screen. There are young boys going through puberty and breakups and depression. There are teenage girls feeling the need to be included. What lesson do these people get?
I wish more movies like Article 15 get introduced in the mainstream. More and more heroine-centric movies like Kahaani and Mardaani should be released.
But before the loss gets out of control, I hope Bollywood wakes up. Before it is too late.
What did you think about Kabir Singh? Talk to us about it!