Second half of June was full of debates on scorching topics like water crisis and deficient rains. But there was something else that was talked about among the younger lot of netizens. It was none other than Shahid Kapoor’s latest offering Kabir Singh. Though it a scene to scene copy of Telugu blockbuster Arjun Reddy. The discussions around it were rather heated. The film which had Shahid Kapoor smoking up hundred cigarettes and beating up several people irked many feminist men and women. Many accused the film of glorifying toxic masculinity and slammed it left, right and centre.
But was it surprising, though? A Bollywood film singing heaps of praises of a man’s sense of entitlement is not a new phenomenon, or is it? The hullaballoo around Kabir Singh was although positive since at least people are noticing the subtle misogyny in the films. But the conversation is, is Kabir Singh the first film to glorify toxic masculinity or Bollywood’s love affair with misogyny roots back to decades ago?
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil Epitome of Unrequited Love
Remember Ae Dil Hai Mushkil? Yeah, the same movie that was lauded as the epitome of unrequited love. There’s immense power in one-sided love. So much that it can go up to an extent of harassing and stalking a woman. No, I’m not saying that. That’s what Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil was all about. Ayaan couldn’t take a no from Alizeh and in this process he harasses and manhandles her. He even stoops as low to use another woman (Aishwarya Rai) to get Alizeh love him back. Even when she’s dying, he expects her to love him back. Cause the frailty of male ego couldn’t take a no for anything. But he’s a man after all.
Mastizaade, Kya Kool Hain Hum and Kya Super Kool Hain Hum are one level ahead of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and one thousand Kabir Singh. Their misogyny and women hatred begin where our imagination ends. Women, who are basically eye candies in the film, are catcalled, harassed, blatant objectification by men who refuse to grow up. In the masquerade of adult comedy, these films make women uncomfortable, shifting positions in theatre. While they’re at it, the inglorious men in theatre end up dancing and whistling at the crass jokes.
Bollywood’s Blatant Sexism
Why talk about films alone when the songs aren’t any less. It’s hard to find any song in Bollywood that doesn’t justify objectification of women. Everything right from Tandoori chicken to Zandu balm, is used to sexualise women. Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai, Sexy Sexy Mujhe Log Bole, Sheila Ki Jawani and the list can stretch up to a couple of kilometres. Bollywood has been slipping blatant sexism in our entertainment and we are gulping it down with ease. It was about time that films like Kabir Singh and Arjun Reddy were called out.
However, the false sense of gender equality is exposed when the box office numbers of such films come out. Despite the criticism, Kabir Singh managed to become one of the highest openers of the year. What else do you expect from the makers, if the audience not only accepts but relishes such grotesque content?
– Reshu Manglik