BY ISHITA ROY
The Cinema Dilemma
The world in the 21st century is evolving ever so rapidly. This is the world of our dreams – an inclusive space where women have rights and everyone is constantly challenging the old regressive ways of life. So, why exactly are we stuck in an age-old concept of romance?
Yes, you read it right!
This is the 21st century we still see movies glorifying sexism and misogyny as a form of romance. Today, women are speaking up more than ever, taking up the space that they deserve and defining their destiny. But Bollywood is still not past seeing women just as sexual objects.
What Do Women Really Want?
Women today want to see more movies like Queen, Pink, and Thappad. Movies that empower women. Movies that talk about women’s struggles and tell women that it is okay to follow your heart and not what the society tells you to.
Movies like Pink reflect issues and day-to-day struggles that women face. At the same time the movie deals with these issues with utter sensitivity. Queen, on the other hand, breaks the stereotype of marriage being the only option of settled life for a woman. And Thappad teaches women what society has failed – the right to live a dignified life.
And still these movies make a very small section of the total number of movies released and are often considered “offbeat.”
What Do Women Get?
Even though today women have come at par with men, Indian Pop-Culture is still filled with sexism. Today, Bollywood has lost its creativity and, on its way, it has been reviving sexist songs from the 90(s), which further brings back the problematic elements into the already existing ones.
Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast – a song that objectifies women by calling her “cheez” (item) was a hit from the movie Mohra, 1994 and again for Machine 2017. And the list just goes on.
Even when Bollywood does try to create something new, it ends up normalizing sexism and casual stalking as a form of romance. Bhabi Khadi Hai from Coolie No. 1 (2020), Gandi Baat from R. Rajkumar (2013), and many such popular hits want men to believe that it is okay to stalk women in the name of love.
Tu Hai Meri Kiran a hit from Darr, 1993 normalized non-consensual and controlling romance, because love is all about disrespecting women’s consent, because tu haan kar, ya na kar, tu hai meri Kiran (pun-intended)!
And even in the 21st century, Bollywood does not seem to learn. Movies like Kabir Singh, 2019 are still normalizing surveillance and control of women’s life as a romantic gesture.
The Way Ahead :
It is high time for Bollywood to stop sexualizing women.Defining romance through normalizing sexism, control, and surveillance over women. Bollywood needs an overall qualitative improvement in the music videos, lyrics and stop portraying toxicity as a positive trait of masculinity. It is time for Bollywood to take women and their representation seriously and differentiate between using sexuality as a tool to empower women versus sexualizing women to promote outdated beauty standards.