The first morning of 2017 started with a rather upsetting news about young girls being ‘mass-molested’ in Bengaluru during the New Year’s Eve celebration. Some of the culprits being seasoned stalkers, waiting for their opportunity. As I read the story, besides feeling furious that there was no place that was a safe haven for women, I was appalled at the cowardice of the young men, and their self-described ‘helplessness’ to help these victims. The police and the politicians, as always, had the attitude of ‘these things happen’.
Why is there such an air of inevitability about this topic in the minds of most Indians? ‘Society’ is an easy answer. What has shaped our society in so repugnant a manner? Perhaps it the frequency of these cases that has made them seem like a part of Indian landscape (comes with the territory, folks). Again, what has driven this frequency of increasing stalkers? Are there factors shaping our social culture in this manner? I believe there are, and one of the most pivotal factors is Indian Cinema. Let’s explore this aspect of B/Tollywood at length.
B/Tollywood encouraging Stalkers Saga
B/Tollywood movies across the years have revolved around the theme of boy meets girl- falls in love with her- stalks her- girl too falls in love with the boy stalker- they live happily ever after. Herein lies the problem. The movies are one dimensional, preaching only a unified flow of possible events. They fail to mention that while a boy falling in love with a girl is completely natural, but is EQUALLY natural for a girl to not reciprocate those feelings.
But our stalker prone movies rob the girl of the option of saying “no.” The sickening line of “A Yes is hidden in her No” is an old B/Tollywood trope now. The girl HAS to fall in love with the guy, either immediately or with enough pursuing. “Enough pursuing” is stalking, pure and simple. It’s morally and legally wrong. Not just wrong, the concept of it is abhorrent. And yet Indian Cinema has successfully made crores of money by dishing out this crime as romance.
They say the ideas of society are shaped over time. Well, time is something Bollywood has on its side. It has been dishing out this twisted logic in rainbow colored packaging for quite a few decades now. From the legendary Sholay to the SRK hits like Anjaam and Darr to Salman’s Dabangg and Tere Naam, to the new generation’s R..Rajkumar and Ranjhana to the most recent mega grosser Sultan….all of them show girls being stalked (oh sorry, persuasively wooed) and eventually the ‘love story’ falling in place.
Unfortunately in real life, many of these girls being stalked end up being acid-attack victims since the ‘heroic’ boys cannot take a ‘no’ for an answer. And hey, why would they? When did any right minded girl say “No” to the “devilish charm” of her “big screen” stalker (read romancer)? In the weirdest cases like “Raja ki aayegi Baraat”, the heroine is content being married to the man who raped her.
What kind of sick logic are these filmmakers trying to instill the moral fibre of our society? And why are they getting away scot free? Is it because it is “just entertainment?”
“Just Entertainment?” Think again.
The Justice and Law
Let me take you (as much as it fills me with impotent rage to do so) to the infamous Priyadarshini Mattoo case in our proud nation’s Capital. A law student, Priyadarshini was killed by her senior Santosh Kumar Singh who had been stalking her for years. It took 10 long years for justice to be served when he was finally sentenced to death by Delhi HC in 2006. And even this punishment was later changed to life term.
Another recent case was in August 2016 when a DU student was set afire by her stalker who lived near her house. The rejection was too much for him to handle and in rage, he poured kerosene over her and set her on fire. This happened in Mukundpur, Delhi.
Talking about Delhi, the capital city ranked second in number of stalking cases registered in 2015. The leading state was Maharashtra with the highest number of stalking cases, the most of them being in Mumbai. Does it ring a bell? Mumbai is the centre of Bollywood and if you have ever lived there, you would know the kind of influence that movies can have on the people living there, especially the struggling class.
Yes, movies are a work of fiction. But if you honestly believe that they have no impact on the mindset of the Indian masses, you need therapy. Seriously. The second angle is the artistic line most filmmakers like to spout. “Our movies are just a reflection of society.” This is a vicious circle of the reflection influencing the source to devolve even further and then following suit, starting a chain reaction that can and will devastate our society (if it hasn’t already).
We don’t need “reflections”. We need “responsibility.”
And if “they” don’t change, let us force them. At this juncture, let us resolve to not be the silent audience to this kind of cinema encouraging stalkers. Let us be vocal about spreading the awareness amongst people, and especially those of an impressionable age that certain movies are just pure wrong. Let us not get carried away by this wave of pseudo entertainment.
It will not be an easy battle to fight the stalkers, let alone win. You will hear rebukes filled with words like “feminist”, “over-analytical”, “mahila-mukti” throughout this struggle.
But if you believe this makes sense, then this battle is worth fighting against the stalker encouraging Indian cinema.
About the Author –
Ruchi Verma is a dreamer, an observer and believes in spontaneity of life. Growing up in Army cantonments, she inevitably absorbed and imbibed from her surroundings. An optimist by nature, she picked up the good experiences from all that life threw at her whether it was in her growing up years, her college life at Pune, corporate job at Mumbai and the many other cities where life took her. Currently based out of Gurgaon, she loves to read, write, spend time with her two sons and travel the country. Introspections from the past and hope for the future are the two mantras she truly lives by. She feels strongly for women centric issues and is hopeful that people like her and the generations to come will really be the harbinger of change.