Dear Roadies (And Especially Neha Dhupia), Your Hypocrisy Is Showing

A recent episode of the popular Roadies show had male contestants being mocked for expressing their feelings. We need to stop telling men that crying is weak. 

A recent episode of the popular Roadies show had male contestants being mocked for expressing their feelings. We need to stop telling men that crying is weak. 

I grew up watching MTV Roadies. I don’t care if its scripted or not, but this recent season of Roadies has peaked my interest for a very surprising reason.

This season, last like the past few seasons allows the contestants to join gangs and fight for the title. Reality star Prince Narula, VJ Nikhil Chinappa, Bollywood star Neha Dhupia and hip-hop artist Raftaar  are the gang leaders. The former captain of the Indian Hockey team, Sandeep Singh joined the gang this season.

A very interesting incident took place this season.

It all began a couple of weeks ago, when Neha Dhupia won first place in a task and was given the power to choose a contestant to be a part of her gang. She chose Tara Prasad, who did not want to be in her gang. He blatantly refused, and before Neha made her choice, he requested her to let him be in Prince’s gang, as she had the additional power to send another contestant to any gang leader besides her own.

Tara Prasad, who rejected her, shocked everyone and clearly hurt her ego. An argument ensued between all the gang leaders regarding this, as Prince Narula supported Tara’s straightforwardness. Tara refused to be in Neha’s gang despite her insistence. Tarun Solanki, another contestant from Delhi, also voiced that he wanted to be in Prince Narula’s gang.

Tara was forced to be in Neha’s gang, and he burst into tears. It was like being stuck in a class with new, unknown students, with a teacher you personally do not have a good rapport with. We all know the feeling. Yes, call it puerile, but Tara has a right to express his emotion. He cried because he dearly loves and admires Prince Narula, who reciprocated this feeling.

Clearly, both men were visibly upset. Neha intentionally placed Tarun in Sandeep’s gang, making the 18-year-old also shed tears. What ensued shocked me to no end.

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All the contestants and even gang leaders, (I’m paraphrasing here) told the boys to: ‘Stop being whiny little bitches’.

Both Tara and Tarun came on the show to win for their families and both of them found a friend, mentor and a man who empathised with them in Prince Narula. Both of them have a fantastic rapport with the reality star, and the chance of working with him was ruined. They are among the best and toughest contestants and have the chance of winning, if a reality king like Prince mentors them.

Prince argued with VJ Rannvijay Singh, and threatened to walk off the show. The producers convinced him to return, and Neha Dhupia stood smirking, as she had hurt her long-time rival. The contestants asked both boys to shut up and the gang leader cajoled their feelings.

Why men don’t cry

It got me thinking, no wonder men refuse to show their emotions in public. They refuse to express their ‘weakness’ in public. If they do, they only get laughed at, cajoled, hurt and be labelled ‘childish’. This was simply disgusting. The gang leaders who are well into their 30s and 40s left no stone unturned when it came to attacking the two contestants in the following episodes. 

Both boys performed exceptionally well, but refused to work with the gang during the vote out session and stuck with Prince. They showed their loyalty, love and worked the man they idolised. Isn’t that what is called ‘being a man’?

I’m not arguing that crying because you can’t join the gang you want is the best thing to do. But to the two of them, isn’t that significant? It’s their life and emotions. I hate dogs, but that doesn’t mean I’ll deride anyone who moans the death of their dog. Can’t society respect people’s emotions? Even men who have fearlessly stated and evinced them for the world to see? What did the boys do that was so irksome?

What I’m saying is, was it wrong for them to display their true feelings? Was it wrong for them to profess that they prefer a particular gang leader over the others? If this was a movie where Prince was a girl and the boys were fighting over her in public, wouldn’t we all swoon and cheer? Wouldn’t we all say that this was great?

If the three men in question were all women, would we mock them? No. It is expected that a girl will cry, and when a girl doesn’t cry, she becomes ‘apathetic’ to many. When boys cry, they become cry babies. They are less masculine. Ironically, this episode received the highest TRP this season. That’s right – three men showing camaraderie is what the audience liked the most.

But it’s the gang leaders’ reaction that turned things sour. VJ Nikhil mocked both contestants and asked them why they were ‘acting like children who were denied an ice-cream’. Raftaar accused Tara of being shady as Neha was the first leader to approve him as a contestant during the audition. All of the contestants were baffled with the tears, as Prince Narula began to cry as well. The other gang leaders began to argue stating that this was roadies and not ‘Prince’s gang show’. I found this puzzling.

Both boys had expressed their raw emotions, love, respect for their idol. Isn’t that masculine?  

Prince did the same. Aren’t we all humans? Are ‘maudlin’ displays of affection only for women? And why can’t men show any emotion? Are over-the-top dancing, chivalry, anger, possessiveness, sexual desire and bravery the only emotions they are permitted to express? 

So, let me take you back in time. About three years ago, when all the gang leaders had to choose one out of two contestants to go to the semi-finals in Roadies X4, it was Neha Dhupia who threw the biggest fit. She argued with the then host Gaelyn and walked off the show. She was impelled to cast her vote, and she wrote the names of both contestants on the ballot paper, and proclaimed that: ‘Both boys did the impossible, and that is, win my heart’. It was Neha who threw the biggest tantrum, and when Prince did the same, Neha decided to smirk in delight.

Raftaar constantly attacked Prince and the two boys for ‘acting’ on camera, and ‘making a show out of everything’. So a man’s emotions are a show now? Well, now I know why men refuse to accept their insecurities and tell us women how they really feel. Society won’t allow them to. This incident started a larger conversation in my mind. Will society ever allow a man to embrace his real feelings, make evident his insecurities and stop asking him to be ‘macho’?

How much more macho can Prince/Tara/Tarun and other boys be? Prince has won three reality shows, and is one of the most popular gang leaders on Roadies. He rawness is what makes him popular. Tara has won a dance contest and Tarun is a martial artist/sportsman. What more could you want?

Coming back to Neha, when one of the contestants whom she saved decided to work with Prince’s gang, she began to talk about how having one ‘extra boy’ makes a difference in a task. This is the very Neha who was offended when Shwetha who won the title two years ago stated that: ‘Women are no lesser than men. I can give them a good challenge in every task’. Neha responded with: ‘What is that supposed to mean? Women are equal, stop demeaning women’.

Where is her sense of justice for women now? This is hypocrisy at its finest. Not to mention, she went on to say this season, ‘There is a reason why Roger Fedrer doesn’t play with Serena Williams in Wimbledon’.  Isn’t that countering and contradicting her own statement?

Neha Dhupia appeared on a TV show called ‘Superstud’ hosted by Amit Patel, which taught boys the art of seducing a girl. I don’t care if it was 10 years ago, the very premise of that TV show was offensive.

As the only female gang leader in Roadies, Neha is disappointing us women, by talking from both sides of her mouth. A woman who has survived fat shaming, conceived a child before getting married and is still standing strong is admirable. But her behaviour on the show is letting us down. It’s hard to consider her a role model for women. There is a lot we can learn from her, but she’s making it hard to cite her as an exemplar for women.

This was a learning moment for me.

To society, I would like to say, stop with your condescension and let men verbally express how they feel. You want India to progress, then let men show their emotions, just like women do. Stop telling them that expressing their feelings makes them losers. They aren’t.

Women like men who express themselves eloquently. And to all the men, show us your weaknesses, and don’t hide it. You have nothing to be ashamed of. There are women who will respect you.

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