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Doesn’t ‘Love, Sex aur Dhoka’ Degrade Women?

28th March, 2010

The fourth week of March, 2010.

Let it be remembered that this was the week I saw Love Sex Aur Dhoka. It had good reviews, so why not?

(Warning: Spoiler Alert!)

Horrible.

Of course, this is a personal rant. While this movie is different from your typical song-and-dance-Bollywood-movie (it still had a song-and-dance sequence), in many ways it’s just not deviating enough. You have a collection of three short stories (“love”, “sex” aur “dhoka”, though I must admit it took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that!). Similarly, you have a collection of three heroes, three heroines, three villains, and three instances of a ‘supporting cast’. Oh and three different sets of cameras.

Not impressed.

Instead, it Degrades Women.

All three women (yes three women), were stereotyped to the point of absurdity.

Case 1: Shruti

Shruti, the first heroine, is this totally random woman who “falls in love” with some guy. She cries when hes leaving, and instead elopes and gets married. REALLY? You have a dad with a gold chain, and you’re scared chicken to take his phone call! This is, of course, a very common male fantasy (No: MF-35710):

You see this rich sweet cute funny girl, and you’re in love. You have no hope. But being who you are, she falls in love with you. You elope. You win.

Case 2: Rashmi

Dark skinned girls are not beautiful, apparently. The fairer ones are the first choice for our idiot hero Adarsh. Poor Rashmi, dark skinned, pimply, quiet, isn’t she waiting for some attention? But our man is such a nice boy, still goes ahead and dates her. Wow! Really, what a man! For all his effort, he must be awarded back by Rashmi no?

Save me from all this torture. This is another male fantasy (MF-44221):

Man who goes out with dark skinned girl is a great human being. A true man. He has sacrificed so much, and expects not much in return.

Case 3: Naina

A small town girl, ruined by her dreams to become big in Mumbai. Naina’s had to “compromise” after all, and as a result forever banished to wear skimpy shiny gaudy dresses. But don’t worry, everyone has to do it. And discuss it over veg momos and water (Oh! How cute!!). But if shes “compromised” before, why not compromise again, especially to bring down her arch enemy? Fantastic script, says the director. Add to that Mr. Loki Local, bhangra hip-hop star (and a jab at Mika Singh). He must always be surrounded by women, preferably blond. Wonderful! Two male fantasies in one story, dear readers!

First (No: MF-50246):

A woman who compromises is a witch and deserves to die. But it’s nice to have her phone number on your cell. You know, for your “khujli”.

And second (No: MF-91023):

Any “star” in the music industry is a promiscuous hodge-podge, and must be revered by all men. The ultimate profession.

But You Shouldn’t Shoot The Messenger

Its obvious I’m against this movie. But a friend put things in perspective. His tweet, in reply to LSD being degrading to women:

The movie isn’t but society is. The movie portrays what has become of the society today. Don’t shoot the messenger.

Why should we always expect a Karan Johar-type happy movie? Directors and producers have every right to release films that deal with explosive topics. (Previously I had written that we shouldn’t expect them to always be moralistic).

But is this society today? Are we being shown those images as a reminder of whats wrong with our society, if wrong at all?

Is this movie even a correct portrayal of today’s society? What if its just male fantasies? Fantasies have become bolder, murkier, and more obnoxious?

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Anukool permalink
    29th March, 2010 1:09 AM

    That’s a fairly obtuse misreading of the movie.

    1) Shruti.

    Is it really impossible to believe that a family as misogynist as hers would create someone as out of touch with reality as her? Brought up on rainbows and butterflies, and whose only purpose in life, before rebelling by eloping, was to look pretty?

    2) Rashmi.

    The point is that the guy is an asshole. In the end, he not only betrayed her, but also his own feelings for her. Shruti really was a certain type of male’s fantasy, but there is nothing in the 2nd movie that suggests the guy was anything other than a horrible human being.

    3) Naina.

    The first male fantasy doesn’t actually play out the in movie at all. Instead, Naina gets her solo song and presumably goes on to make it big. By the same token, Loki was clearly a parody and not particularly set up for any amount of reverence.

    Apart from Rashmi, I did not particularly LIKE any of the women in this movie, but that does not mean it’s anti-women. (And apart from 1 guy — last movie, Prabhat, was it? — I didn’t like the guys either.)

    • 29th March, 2010 12:05 PM

      Okay.

      Let me put it this way: there are a whole lot of things that happen in this world today. If we just enumerate them, in a bullet list, we would get a long list of “realities”.

      We are not counting frequencies. Anything and everything that happens in this world (even if it happened only once) belongs to our list of “realities”.

      So let me be clear: I’m not denying the fact that these *could* be realities (I don’t have the resources to make that list).

      But I’m unhappy in the selection of “realities” our script-writer has chosen. These aren’t the frequent ones! Instead, they’re all male fantasies. Sensational male fantasies. And that pisses me off.

  2. Anukool permalink
    29th March, 2010 8:23 PM

    I can’t reply to your reply?

    Anyway, you’re right that the first one is definitely a male fantasy. Of course, people didn’t mind when it was the plot of many, many movies (both Indian and American). Or when the trope was reversed — Pretty Woman, anyone? Heck, Snow White! — or when people sang freaking SONGS about it! (Uptown Girl, far far to many to list in Hindi Cinema.)

    So, maybe it’s not a common REALITY, but it’s certainly a common fantasy, and not the porn fantasy type. This fantasy has made high art, and given hope to millions. (The reverse trope has given hope to billions.) It’s say it’s a good target for deconstruction, no?

    I have more serious problems with the rest of the critique. The other two stories are NOT male fantasies. What you have listed is just completely different from what happens in the movie!

    Finally the movie is and amazingly cynical piece of work. Good people get brutally murdered, sex and blackmail gets the job done, people like Loki shoot people like that journo and get away with it, having trauma sex with someone you like gets you on the internet.

  3. Anukool permalink
    29th March, 2010 8:33 PM

    Ok, I can’t edit my reply either? Anyway, “the movie is AN amazingly cynical piece of work”.

  4. Priyanka permalink
    11th May, 2011 9:07 PM

    India’s a male-dominated country. Men command majority of the country’s economy and progress (or the lack of it). As it’s always, u can either use ur power with sound discretion or abuse it. Most Indian men abuse their dominant position and these men happen to be those who can fuck things up for women.

    • 11th May, 2011 11:30 PM

      Hmm, I’ll agree with a few things you’ve said. Certainly things have improved from what they were even a century ago, but we all have a long path ahead of us.

      Movies like this, however, don’t help!

      And thanks for dropping by, Priyanka!

  5. Priyanka permalink
    12th May, 2011 10:51 PM

    @K: You can’t really compare the social well-being of Indian women today with the situation 50yrs ago .. The world doesn’t function that way .. Our hunger/poverty situation may be better than the state in countries like Somalia but no one can go on to say we are not up against those issues .. Similarly, empowerment of women will always be evaluated against a global scale .. And even today, we largely fall behind.

    • 13th May, 2011 10:50 AM

      Interesting, very interesting comment!

      By the way, how would you measure the empowerment of women? How does one say that “we are in a better position that yesterday” ? Seems like a very complex problem – especially when we think of it at a global scale!

  6. Priyanka permalink
    13th May, 2011 6:43 PM

    Sexism is deeply ingrained in a good fraction of indians .. My parents may never have treated me different for being a girl but they’ve had ppl asking them “Oh .. you have a daughter? Why didn’t you try for a son?” .. And these are people who holds bachelors/masters degree and earn in excess of 10 lpa .. How worse do u reckon the situation is among the less educated, largely rural population?

    One of my school friends is pursuing a BE in eee .. Her mom said to my mother, “Oh .. the dowry for girls with a BE degree is considerably lesser .. Thats why we have put her in an engg college.” .. Haha .. I was shell-shocked!

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