You don't have to be a Hindi film aficionado to know that it's pretty routine in our movies for male characters to relentlessly pursue a woman until she 'gives in.'
From Yash Chopra's Darr (1993) to Satish Kaushik's Tere Naam (2003) to the more-recent, the Aanand L Rai-directed Raanjhanaa (2013), Bollywood has been actively complicit in normalising stalking by glamorising characters that can't tell the difference between chasing and wooing.
Not just Hindi films, there are a number of Tamil films that are extremely regressive and which show complete disregard for a woman's consent.
The chase in itself is considered a romantic notion and countless Hindi film songs promote that attitude (Akeli Na Bazaar Jaya Karo, Kab Tak Ruthegi, Cheekhegi, Chilaayegi..Dil Kehta Hai Ek Din Haseena Maan Jaayegi...) legitimising something that could be a very serious threat to every woman.
Fans who champion these character traits often mistake the repeated harassment for some form of romantic idealism.
Watching a movie star do it on screen not only gives it a certain amount of acceptability, but also justifies the act, something that could potentially lead to a serious problem in a country grappling with eve-teasing and sexual violence against its women.
Now, Siddharth, who's perhaps best-known to Hindi film fans for his part in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's Rang De Basanti, has called out the lover-boy stalking syndrome that our films invariably suffer from.
We've been selling a terrible dream in our films for long. That any man can get the woman he wants just by wanting her enough. Must change!— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) July 17, 2016
When a woman stalks a man in our films she's a vamp. When a man does it he is a hero. It's a complicated discussion. But it needs to be had.— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) July 17, 2016
While our films need to collectively reform by dissing the existing, staid notions of romance, a discussion about what's wrong with them is the first step in the right direction.
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