When Bollywood treated women badly…

Written by Bency Sebastian

While we have made progress in several aspects of society, the one thing that the world does not seem to understand is how to treat women. All over the world women are disrespected, mistreated, and abused but it has not seemed to change. The fact that we live in a man’s world remains true to this day but as more and more women fight for their rights, the scenario slowly seems to be improving. However, when compared to women all over the world, India still makes it to the list of topmost unsafe places for women. According to reports, India outranked several other countries that are deemed to be less progressive like Syria and Afghanistan, when it came to women’s safety. This is because the government in our country often delays justice when it comes to the rape and murder of women (1).

This is just the sad reality of our nation and the entertainment industry has had a significant role to play in it. Several Bollywood movies not only objectify women but treat them abusively as well. In many cases, these misogynistic behaviors are glorified by Bollywood movies and that influences large sections of our society. We are not strangers to item songs; many of us even groove to it because of how catchy it is! But, have you ever stopped to think about the message they send out? Songs like gandi baat, chikni chameli, tu cheez badi hai mast and other similar ones objectify women to a great extent and as viewers, we fall prey to such discrimination. The fact is that unless these movies change the way they portray women, the mindset of society is going to remain the same. Let us look at some of the Bollywood movies that demean women and promote misogyny.

1. Kabir Singh

Kabir Singh

shahidkapoor / Instagram

A movie that received a lot of attention and discussion, Kabir Singh throws light on every misogynistic man in our society. The movie received a lot of backlash from audiences because it glorifies toxic masculinity in a society that is already unsafe for women. While there were several arguments in support of this movie saying “it’s just a movie, it doesn’t mean anything”, the reality is that our society deeply believes in such behaviors and have even culturally accepted them. Therefore, it is not “just a movie” because it influences a large part of society.

2. Aitraaz

A movie that was way ahead of its time, Aitraaz has some of the A-list actors of Bollywood. It features Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor, and Priyanka Chopra. The story shows Priyanka Chopra falsely accusing her ex-boyfriend Raj, played by Akshay Kumar, for rape. Despite societal pressures, he sues her for false claims. What is ironic about this movie is that a career-driven woman is portrayed in a bad light. During the courtroom scene where Kareena defends her husband, she argues that Priyanka wanted power, money, and a successful career like it’s a bad thing. Watch this movie to understand the humiliating portrayal of women who choose to pursue their careers over getting married and having kids.

3. Pati Patni Aur Woh

Bollywood’s favorite plot for a romantic comedy is the cliqued love triangle. It’s the 21st century but this idea has not changed. Released in 2019, Pati Patni Aur Woh is a movie that circles the idea of a married man, his wife, and his lover. It’s a remake of the 1978 film with the same name and both the films portray male infidelity under a humorous tone. While the patni forgives her pati for his mistakes in this movie, how many big budget Bollywood movies have you seen in which female infidelity is portrayed in the same manner or even forgiven? That’s something to think about.

4. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai


Speaking of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, here’s an eye-opener for one of your favorite 90s movies. Anjali and Tina are simply a part of the movie to appease the male protagonist Rahul. The movie shows Kajol as a tomboy who falls in love with her best friend but does not win his heart. However, in the latter part of the movie, she transforms into a makeup-wearing, saree-donning woman who then wins over her first love. We call it bullshit and hopefully a lot of die-hard fans will too.

5. Raees

A Hindi crime film, Raees focuses on Shahrukh Khan as the male protagonist throughout the film. While Bollywood’s Badshah was praised for his performance, the sad part was that Mahira Khan, the actress in the film was given very less screen time. Sure, one can argue that it was not a movie that required female screen time and they would be right. But what proves Bollywood’s disregard for women is that the poster had Mahira Khan. This was solely done for the male gaze and to create an appeal amongst viewers. Sad, isn’t it?

While it is quite disheartening to see how women are portrayed in these films, what’s more, appalling is that it is the reality of the society we live in. With more and more films that demean women, the situation in real life gets worse. Our hope for a better tomorrow lies in responsible and social messaging. What are your thoughts on this issue? Let us know in the comments below.

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