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In an eerily soft voice, he looked her straight in the eyes and said, “You are mine. You just want me to pursue you. I have seen enough Bollywood movies to know that is what a girl wants.”
Viraj checked his watch impatiently for the 12th time as he eagerly waited for the class to get over. Meanwhile, his professor droned on about the Fundamentals of Financial Accounting. Being attentive in class was the last thing on his mind – he needed to catch hold of Prerna before she left the college premises and convince her of his undying love for her.
It had been a little over a month since Viraj began B.com 1st year classes in one of the most prestigious institutes of Delhi. Prerna was pursuing B.Sc in the same institute. Viraj had seen her couple of weeks earlier in the college cafeteria and had been smitten with her ever since.
Dressed in a sky blue crop top and a baggy pair of jeans, hair loosely tied in a ponytail, she looked resplendent that day. She was sitting with her friends around one of the white, round tables of the cafeteria, nonchalantly throwing back her head to laugh every once in a while. Seated at the table next to her, Viraj couldn’t take his eyes off of her. He noticed her carelessly push away a stray, unruly strand of hair from her face, and felt his heart do a somersault.
That day, he knew that he had to make Prerna his.
Very soon, he found out that Prerna stayed a few yards away from the college campus and walked home from college every day. Since then, every day after her classes he would follow her back home.
On one occasion, she noticed Viraj stealthily walking behind her. Seeing him, her pace quickened as she hastened to reach home, all the while casting furtive glances backwards. Instead of feeling ashamed at being caught stalking, he felt a strange sense of power course through his being – almost like it was some sort of mammoth conquest.
His mind would often conjure up images of the two of them cocooned in a love bubble. So much so that he could no longer distinguish between reality and fiction. Not once did he stop to consider that Prerna herself might not be interested to pursue a relationship with him.
That day after his Financial Accountancy class, he was determined to profess his love for Prerna. As soon as the bell rang, he rose up from his seat and made a beeline for her class. With her striking good looks and the maroon kurta that she had worn, it was easy to spot her even from a distance. She was chatting animatedly with her friends, her dangler earrings swaying rhythmically to her occasional nods. To Viraj, she was a magical creature, emanating light and positivity.
He waited until he saw her casually bid her friends goodbye. As was his regular ritual, he followed her, only that day he stopped her mid-way. “Hey Prerna, wait up!” he breezily called out.
Prerna turned around to see Viraj. Fear registered in her eyes for a flicker of second before being replaced by contempt.
Steeling herself, she asked, “Yes? Do I know you?”
Seizing the opportunity, Viraj went on to say, “I am Viraj. B.com 1st Year. I have been meaning to tell you that I am irrevocably in love with you and want to be in a relationship with you.”
Visibly uncomfortable with the situation but unwilling to create a scene in the middle of the street, she carefully chose her words, “See Viraj. I do not know any better way to say this. This situation is making me deeply uncomfortable. Although, I respect your feelings, I hardly know you and I cannot be in a relationship with a person I do not even know. Sorry!”
She continued homewards until she suddenly felt a hand pull hers. It was Viraj’s. Within seconds he was facing her, eyes flashing. Her heart turned cold. In an eerily soft voice, he looked her straight in the eyes and said, “You are mine. I know that already. You just want me to pursue you relentlessly. I have seen enough Bollywood movies to know that is what a girl wants. And I promise, just like Kabir Singh, I’ll win you over.”
As he walked away, Prerna continued to look on at his receding figure with paralyzing fear in her heart.
When will Bollywood take responsibility for the kind of movies it makes?
Just like Viraj, there are thousands of young impressionable minds who are influenced heavily by Bollywood movies. These youngsters often emulate actors and try to become like the central characters of their favourite movies. However, some of these movies are regressive at best and toxic at worst.
For instance, the movie Kabir Singh, although highly successful at the box office, is problematic on several fronts.
Firstly, not only does it condone the distasteful acts of a toxic male, but also panders to his sense of entitlement throughout the movie.
Secondly, it normalizes emotionally abusive and violent behaviour in the name of love.
Thirdly, it makes a blatant mockery of ‘consent’ when Kabir kisses Priti on her cheek without asking for her permission.
But, Kabir Singh is not the only Bollywood movie with obnoxious male characters. The most recent example is Love Aaj Kal 2. The male protagonist Veer stalks the female protagonist, Zoe in a pathetic attempt to prove that she is special and unlike any other girl. That she eventually caves in, instead of calling it out for the disturbing act it is, is the final nail in the coffin.
In yet another movie – Badrinath Ki Dulhania, even a criminal act like kidnapping and holding a woman hostage is glorified.
Recently, actor Abhay Deol took to Instagram to condemn the movie Raanjhana for the glorification of its central character, Kundan and in doing so, enabling and contributing to an already patriarchal society. In the movie, Kundan, a man unable to accept rejection is portrayed as an ‘epic lover’ and not as the stalker and the entitled chauvinist that he was. Interestingly, Abhay Deol was himself a part of this 2013 Dhanush starrer.
Within a week of its release last year, Kabir Singh was declared a blockbuster. Subsequently, there was a furore over how such characters negatively influence the public. Detractors, however, were of the opinion that movies should be watched for purely the reason they are made – fun.
A movie is primarily meant for entertainment purposes but it is also a medium to send out messages to the audience. Furthermore, Bollywood has a massive fan base and is religiously followed up by the Indian public. It plays a pivotal role in moulding young minds, so it is only logical for them to carefully police the content and the kind of messaging that is being sent out to the larger masses.
As thinking, well-educated people it is our duty to question the absolute hogwash that is at times served to us in the name of entertainment. If we do not, is our education of any use?
Image source: a still from the film Kabir Singh
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HR by profession, but a writer by choice, I find creative respite through writing.
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