by Aishwarya Subramanian
Ah Bollywood. For decades now, it has entertained us, made us fall in love and created unrealistic expectations about the power of moonlight. The very fabric of Indian culture is now intertwined with Bollywood for better or for worse. And Bollywood most definitely has also confused millions of men (and women) for decades about love.
In a land where most of the directors, scriptwriters and producers are men with very few women in the playground (do Farah Khan movies really count?), Bollywood, has staunchly positioned itself as the sole voice for women in India. Except for those of us who have claims to being actual women on this planet, the Bollywood version of true love, feels a little off. Here’s why:
Boy eve teases girl after spotting her in a bus. Girl ignores him and sits with her friends
What Bollywood says: She is clearly very interested in you. She is completely affected by your masculinity. That’s why she is ignoring you.
What girl thinks: I like my friends. I shall sit with them and talk about Ryan Gosling’s baby news.
Boy stands behind girl. He calls out to girl. Girl turns around and looks at the boy. Then she walks away looking slightly puzzled.
Bollywood says: She LOVES you! She turned around dude. Obviously she would never ever turn around if she didn’t want to fall into your arms and marry you and have babies with you. You are set boss.
What girl thinks: Did someone yell at me? Who is this dude staring at me like that? Why is he grinning at me? Do I have something in my teeth? This is weird and creepy.
Boy now follows girl everywhere she goes. Girl tells the boy to back off. Boy smiles indulgently licking his lips.
Bollywood says: Girl is playing hard to get. She wants you to try harder. Follow her to her house. Stalk her parents now. You should also listen in on her calls. She is your future wife and she knows it.
What girl thinks: I should call the police right? What if this guy attacks me? I think it’s time to order pepper spray from that online store. I can get it on discount.
Boy grabs the girl and plants a kiss on her. Girl slaps him. Boy grins licking his lips.
Bollywood says: Nope! She didn’t mean to slap you. She liked being kissed. Now, she will sit by her balcony and dream about you and sing songs while basking in the moonlight. Oh and her voice will sound like Alka Yagnik or Shreya Ghoshal. And the song will be a poetic masterpiece. Something Javed Akhtar will write.
What girl thinks: I have been assaulted.
Boy yells at the girl for not responding to his advances. Girl looks stunned.
Bollywood says: Girl needs to be tamed. So, yell at her. Tell her off for being an independent woman. Slap her if you must. She has “over attitude”.
What girl thinks: This qualifies as persistent sexual harrassment right? Why did I leave my pepper spray in the other bag? I need to get away and call the police.
Boy- Girl have a nice conversation. Girl laughs at boy’s jokes. Girl tells boy that he is a good friend
Bollywood says: Nonsense. Men and women can never be friends. She loves you. If she doesn’t, then she clearly used you by being friendly with you. How dare she think of you only as a friend? If she spent time with you, then she needs to marry you and fuck you too.
What girl thinks: Ah. It is so refreshing to have a nice chat with a friend.
Girl holds a drink at a party. The boy tells her that drinking alcohol is wrong for women while holding a glass of clear whiskey. Girl stares.
Bollywood says: Damn straight! By drinking alcohol women invite the satan into their souls. Men can drink alcohol because they are cool (unless it’s the villain who drinks the alcohol….which means the next scene would be a rape scene because Bollywood is very original like that)
What girl thinks: Um…dude I just want my fricking drink. Can you return it already?
Boy asks girl about her dreams and goals in her career. Girl says she wants to work after she leaves college.
Bollywood says: The girl’s real dreams is to marry you. She doesn’t want a “high flying” career. She only wants to sit at home, raise your kids and do pooja with your mom. This is what she wants.
What girl thinks: Wait. I went to school for fourteen years. And then I went to a prestigious college. I studied hard. Graduated. And now I genuinely want to work. That really is my dream. Why do you think I secretly want to sit at home when I have already specifically told you otherwise?
Boy and girl eat icecream. Boy asks girl if she wants to have kids. Girl says that having kids is not really a priority for her in life. In fact, she doesn’t think she will ever want kids. She doesn’t like children.
Bollywood says: Ha! Bollywood would never have a heroine ever say something like that. Are you sure you are watching a Bollywood film? Is this girl a heroine or a secret villain out to strike the real heroine when she gets a chance?
What girl thinks: I don’t think I want to have kids. If you aren’t fine with that then we both need to find partners who want what we want and support us in our decisions. Also, are you sure this ever happened in a Bollywood film ever?
Girl breaks up with boy. Says she is going to marry someone else.
Bollywood says: She will never ever want to break up with someone like you. You followed her and stalked her and kissed her against her will. Obviously you love her the most. Now, go crash her wedding, pick her up and carry her away from her own marriage. Come on dude…trust us. We know women.
What girl thinks: I have been kidnapped. Dammit I left my pepper spray in the other bag again!
Boy asks a girl out. She says no.
Bollywood says: She is being cute. With a woman, a no does not really mean no
What girl thinks: A no is a no. A capital N and a capital O.
Aishhwariya Subramanian (that’s her legal name and it’s a long story), hates patriarchy and spends far too much time on the internet looking up Panda videos. She loves pop culture and cares about your views on unicorns. When she isn’t running away from all of life’s problems, she writes about issues through a feminist perspective. You can catch her fawning about Arsenal and Taylor Swift on her Twitter account: hyper_aice.
3 thoughts on “What a girl wants…the Bollywood edition”
Nice read! Strange, how Bollywood heroines are taken for granted all across the globe ! Throughout the years, there have been no change in the script written to show recklessness of heroes who are worshiped everywhere !
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Nice read! Strange, throughout years there has been no change in the script to show recklessness of bollywood heroes who have been worshiped all across the globe ! Bollywood heroines are just taken for granted ! Except for Zoya Akhtar movies, i believe, every writer/director has the same message to spread, including farha khan movies.
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I don’t think it is any different in Tamil cinema, Ami. Almost every female ‘lead’ is playing the same role. It is quite pathetic.