Bollywood is known for a lot of things. Patriarchal representations, colourism, racism, sexism, and a whole lot more. Sure, the song and dance and film is super fun and entertaining, but there are some movies that we just cannot shake off because of how absolutely problematic they are.
Need a reminder? How about…
1. Amar, 1954
While I love Madhubala and Dilip Kumar, my love for them wasn’t enough for me to watch Amar without wanting to peel my eyes out. I just had to keep reminding myself that this was the 50s. However, unfortunately, not much has changed. Amarnath and Anju are all set to get married to each other. But then Amarnath rapes a poor village girl and then decides to do the ‘honourable’ thing and save her izzat by marrying her.
Take a minute to let that sink in.
2. Kabir Singh
Ugh. Kabir Singh showed us two things with an embarrassing amount of pride: first, that a man’s birthright is anger, rage, and second, that women are to be quiet and subservient. In scenes that are uncomfortable to watch, Kabir ‘possesses’ Preeti, slaps her, and his self-sabotaging behaviour is glorified by the filmmaker. I understand that toxic characters and relationships should be represented with all honesty, but not in a way that glorifies their misogynistic behaviour.
Um, talk about homophobic. Ridden with every gay stereotype to the point of insulting the entire LGBTQ+ community, Dostana is a terribly prejudiced, insensitive movie. Queer people are reduced to jokes, and aren’t even taken seriously enough to be real in the movie; no, instead they become a pretense — a character — played by the lead men. Just coz the director is queer doesn’t mean he made a queer-sensitive film.
4. Mr aur Mrs 55
Big shocker to all you Guru Dutt fans: he made a supremely sexist and problematic movie. Mr and Mrs 55, otherwise known to be a popular comedy, is ridden iwth deep-rooted patriarchal beliefs and misogynist characters. The modern Bombay woman, post-Independence, is seen to be running a ‘divorce agenda’ that doesn’t understand the sanctity of Indian marriages. And married Indian women who are beaten by their husbands? They go on to say that these things happen in love, that how do you even know if your husband cares about you if he doesn’t show you physically?
Well, no surprise that 60 years later, Kabir Singh released.
5. Pyaar ka Punchnama 2
This film is nothing more than a series of badly-connected sexist sketches: the cool, young Indian modern couple follows age-old patriarchal norms. Men dictate sexual relationships, women are made out to be villainous, only good for sex, manipulative and demanding. Men are stupid and fun, women are objectified and difficult. Basically, Luv Ranjan believes and perpetuates the belief that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. SO 2000 and late, bro. At a time when gender and sexuality boundaries are collapsing, Bollywood only seems to want to strengthen rigid ones. How pathetic. No surprise Kartik Aaryan is in the movie.