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How bollywood perpetuates stereotypes

india Updated: Jul 22, 2012 14:25 IST
Sahil Rizwan
Sahil Rizwan
Hindustan Times
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Bollywood has never been known for its imagination. But even in its unoriginality, there's one aspect that it's been especially lazy at — writing for strong woman characters. Between the loose party girls and the women who will forgive their men murder, it's hard to make a case for the people who claim that Indian cinema has moved on to a more modern outlook. Just take a look at the movies that have come out over the past year.

Cocktail
This movie has received a lot of flak for its depiction of Deepika Padukone's character. I don't get it. A girl drinks and parties a lot and ends up alone, despite giving it all up for a dupatta and cooking biryani for the guy she's in love with. Sure, she's only letting go of her entire identity for a guy who dumped her for her virginal roommate, but that's the only sort of woman us men would consider marrying, right? Right.

They say films reflect the society of the time. I hope to God they're wrong. Nothing would depress me more.

Rowdy Rathore
Rowdy Rathore sees a girl he likes. He ogles her svelte waist, starts following her around, turns up unannounced at her cousin's wedding and exhibits a lot of other stalker tendencies. And what does the girl do? Does she go to the police, get a restraining order? No. Not only does our protagonist not try to stop him, she eventually lets him grope said svelte waist! I want to meet the person who thought that there are women out there whose reaction to this sort of attention would be anything other than 'Ewww'.

Hate Story
It's funny how a movie can be the most offensive and the most unintentionally hilarious thing at the same time. This film revolves around a girl who is gang-raped by her boss and his cronies for costing his company some money. To her credit, she doesn't go into a shell from the trauma. What she does do is approach a madam to help turn her into the city’s finest prostitute. She then works her way into the beds of powerful politicians to earn favours that she uses to get back at her tormenters. Now I would never make the mistake of telling someone how they should react to sexual abuse. But even I can tell that director Vivek Agnihotri's vision of the way to go seems slightly iffy.

Ishaqzaade
This was by far the most disturbing movie I've seen this year. The story, like most stories, starts off with a boy and a girl. The girl slaps the boy in public. He reacts as any sane man would — convinces the girl to elope with him after some wooing and love-faking, consummates the marriage, then dumps her, thus completing his revenge. Our girl is not amused and briefly considers ruthless murder — until the boy's mother has a chat with her about how, being the woman, she should stay strong and focus her anger on turning her husband into a better person. Soon after, not only is all forgiven, she even falls back in love with him.

Call me old-fashioned, but to let go of something that even the law recognises as a form of rape and jump back into a relationship with the same man… not exactly what I was expecting from a film that a lot of people said had one of the best female characters to come out of Bollywood in a while.

Ladies vs Ricky Bahl
Ah, the 'blind in love' stereotype. It's one thing when you're a teenager with your first crush and would walk off a bridge if the other person asked you to. This movie showed us three successful adult women who hand over their money to a conman who told them he loved them. I'm not sure which part confused me more — that these supposedly intelligent women lost all sense of judgment, or that the guy who these women found charming and fell for was, ahem, Ranveer Singh.

Sahil Rizwan is a freelance writer and creator of The Vigil Idiot ( www.thevigilidiot.com )