One of the core components of Bollywood films has always been “love”. Most popular films have this cliché love story where both the characters are willing to go to any length for each other — which sometimes leads to defying the idea of consent, and encourages stalking and harassment.
To illustrate, take a look at this very popular lyric — Tu ha kar ya na kar, tu hain meri Kiran, and judge for yourself. From Darr starring Shahrukh Khan to Kabir Singh starring Shahid Kapoor, there have been plenty of Bollywood movies that have normalised stalking and abuse every now and then.
One of 2017’s biggest hits was Badrinath ki Dulhaniya, which featured Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan as the main leads. Here Badri (Varun), an aggressive and rowdy hero, keeps following an ambitious girl named Vaidehi Trivedi (Alia). She is least interested in him, but that does not matter because he wants to marry her at all costs. He goes as far as following her to Singapore (without her permission) and ties her up in the trunk of a car.
If all these idiocies were not enough, the director ends up making the female lead fall for him — which not only makes abuse and stalking justifiable, but also portrays women as fools and weak.
While we are on the topic of not taking “NO” for an answer, let us talk about Raanjhanaa starring Dhanush and Sonam Kapoor. Everytime Kundan (Dhanush) asks his dream girl Zoya (Sonam) to be in a relationship with him, she very directly says no. But our hero cannot accept that. Just like any typical Bollywood stalker, he does absurd things like driving his scooter into a pond with Zoya on the pillion, as well as kidnapping her from a hospital bed.
Another big Bollywood hit was R Madhavan’s debut film Rehna Hain Tere Dil Main. But the misogyny displayed in the name of love is shocking. Maddy tries to win Reena’s heart by faking an entire identity. When she finds out, she is scared and angry for obvious reasons. But instead of feeling remorse, this leads him to a destructive path where he stalks her, threatens her actual fiancé (whose identity he has been impersonating), and behaves like a goon.
Just like the previously discussed films, aggression is used every time to normalise stalking and harassing.
Films starring Salman Khan are among the most anticipated because of his amazing acting skills. But let us look closely to some of his movie plots, specifically Tere Naam and Sultan. Tere Naam had personally made me feel concerned for the people who enjoyed it. It was about a lunatic protagonist who chases Nirjara (Bhumika Chawla) down the streets, kidnaps her, and threatens her — all to express his feelings. And guess what? In the end, the girl somehow sees the “good” in him and falls for him. Not just that, she even apologises to him. Even in Sultan, it is SHE (Anushka Sharma) who has to give up her career and inspire HIM (Salman Khan) to win those medals. The films conveniently equate love with stalking, and try to establish that men are superior and women give in eventually.
We are currently living in a world where the media plays a big role in our lives. Whether they are social media platforms, books, or movies, the young generation can easily fall victim to their negative influence.
On top of that, if internationally acclaimed heroes, such as Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan, act in movies that promote stalking, then the effect that will befall their followers becomes something we should be worried about.
To conclude, most films made in Bollywood show that the most romantic gesture is, of course, stalking. Nothing says “I adore you” like following the person you are attracted to constantly. Nothing says “I love you” like sneaking inside your love’s home and kidnapping them.
As it is a really toxic image that is shown again and again, it needs to be stopped. As the audience, the responsibility falls on us to judge the movies we see through the lenses of emotion as well as logic.
The writer, a proud Slytherin, is a part of the TDA Editorial Team.