By Maithili Bisne
Cinema, especially in India, reflects the society and also reflects on the society. So when a nasty, distasteful movie is made, one can often hear the film-maker come up with an excuse that it was just a mirror of the society. But given the gullibility of a larger section of audience and influenceability of the silver screen, should film-makers not behave more responsibly?
This question kept hovering in one’s mind after watching Shahid Kapoor’s Kabir Singh. An atrocity on one’s sensibilities that this movie is, it has chauvinism and egoistic machismo written all over it. One wants to forgive its narrative under the pretext of ‘artistic liberties’ but the fact that a majority of the audiences flocking the for Kabir Singh are not looking for artistic pleasures but sadistic ones, makes one worry.
Shahid Kapoor, who plays the eponymous character, uses women for pleasure and yet women can’t help swooning over him. The fact that he is a drug-snorting, alcoholic with a violent streak is hardly a deterrent. So, right from hospital nurses to film actresses, he has them all jumping to sleep with him. Even the impracticably coy female lead. And then this University topper, best doctor of the decade likens ‘healthy type of girls’ to teddy bears and calls them warm. He tells a class full of boys that Kiara Advani is ‘his girl’ and so they should ‘choose’ from the rest or that their will be ‘ample choice’ next year as well with freshers coming in. During the length and breadth of the film the women are either dumb or sex facilitators or both. So much so, that when Kabir Singh is on the verge of collapse, his best friend offers his sister to him in marriage to help him rebuild his life. And of course, the sister is dying to marry him. Another Bollywood film released just weeks before Kabir Singh and did good business was De De Pyar De. A milder version of machismo but misogynist no less. Ajay Devgn is such a stud at 50, that girls half his age are throwing themselves on him. When he is feeling guilty about spending a night with his ex-wife, she convinces him, and the audience, how it was her fault and he was just being a supportive husband.
The film-maker has basically covered every flaw in the male lead with bigger blemishes in the female leads. One would ask, why not pass these as just some more bad films? That is because this display of jingoism called Kabir Singh has touched the haloed Rs 100 crore mark even before the completion of first week of its release. Multiplexes are running several shows and most of them are running to packed houses even on weekdays. De De Pyar De is a ‘hit’ too. So one can safely say that the film-makers’ thought process has been lapped up. Now one can only hope and pray that fiction remains fiction and does not trigger an aberration in the social sensibilities.
In a country that is already dealing with horrific crimes against women, what good do these films do? Popular Bollywood heroes trashing women and belittling their worth and then ending up as the quintessential ‘heroes’ send out a dangerous message. And remember the dialogue from Gangs Of Wasseypur - Jab tak is desh me cinema hai....