What you need to know:
- The reader is upset with the way Bollywood writes female characters.
- She recently watched the movie Kabir Singh and was disappointed.
The #MeToo campaign was a success in India, and we are made to believe that women have come a long way. In a country like India where Bollywood is big, like cricket, for years women have been depicted from the point of view of a man in cinema.
How the camera moves over a woman’s body, or the inclusion of the infamous ‘item number’ in movies, women are used to satisfy the male gaze. Movies like De Dana Dan openly suggest that manhandling a woman is not a big deal. In the film, lead Indian actor Akshay Kumar kicks Archana Puran Singh, a veteran actor, on her behind, in the name of comic relief. In the film Dil, Aamir Khan slaps actress Madhuri Dixit, for reason best justified by the filmmaker. Propagating physical violence against any woman in the name of creativity or for the sake of the narrative is simply wrong.
What example are we setting in a society that is so vulnerable and highly inspired by Bollywood? Do the filmmakers hold no responsibility towards our society that is patriarchal and deeply misogynistic? My anger comes from the recently released movie Kabir Singh starring Shahid Kapoor. Kabir is a narcissistic man who has no interest in anyone’s feelings apart from his burning heart. He plays a deeply disturbing, dark and aggressive bully who gets away with all his misbehaviours in the name of love. The leading lady Priti, played by actress Kiara Advani is shown as a meek, demure, spineless character who is madly in love with the hero. She is denied any agency whatsoever. She is a property, marked and owned by the man she loves.
Does Kapoor have no responsibility for choosing to play a part in a narrative that can set women back in society? The character of Kabir Singh is all things our youth doesn’t need to see or be. The worry is ever since the movie has released, the character is being idolised.
Nakkul Mehta, an Indian television actor tweeted saying: “There are 99 problems but Shahid Kapoor isn’t one.” Leaving the politics of the film aside, it’s a brilliant portrayal.
Kapoor owned every frame and acted very well.
In a separate tweet, Rekha Sharma, chairperson of the National Commission of Women, praises Kapoor for his performance. Ace filmmaker Karan Johar is all praises for the actors and the director of the film. Some have totally disregarded the movie, calling it toxic and one-sided.
How could a movie be allowed to not just normalise but celebrate misogyny and sexism to this extent?
Many people have come forward and found flaws with the movie’s plot. The movie is a box office success and has surpassed Padmaavat collections, it is also Shahid Kapoor’s highest opening day grosser.
If this is people’s idea of a good man-woman dynamic, then it’s lopsided and women will always be on the receiving end.
- The reader is a writer based in Dubai.