Friday, October 30, 2015

Warning: This Movie Contains Just About Everything Offensive to Women

Have you ever seen Pyaar Ka Punchnama? Even if you say you haven't, you probably have.  It was the kind of movie that did less at the theatres than at torrent download sites, and publicity was mostly word of mouth. I saw it last year with a couple of my roommates and let me share with you what happened that particular night.

The movie is about three young men and their girlfriends (or rather, women they claim to be in love with). The first, Rajat, falls in love with a girl, Neha, and while everything is okay in the beginning, she soon turns into a controlling, possessive person. The second, Nishant, likes his colleague Charu, who already has a boyfriend and is only using him. The third, Vikrant, has a new gilfriend, Riya, who is yet to get over the last man she was with.

Because, yeah, all women are jerks and all men are victims.

Seriously?

Sometime towards the end of the movie, during a scene depicting Rajat's frustration with Neha and Neha's ignorance towards it, one of my roommates began sobbing. She didn't tell us why right away, but later she said, "What if my boyfriend feels like that?" She had been in a relationship with her childhood best friend for four years, a relationship longer than any of the characters in the movie seem capable of sustaining, but she was a sharp-shooting, sometimes dominating girl and she was afraid that her boyfriend would end up feeling about her the way Rajat feels in the movie. We all laughed at her reaction, told her it was just a movie, but looking back on the situation, I think her reaction was valid.

Yes, this roommate was mine was a dominating person. She liked getting her way because it was the right way. But she wasn't a manipulatve girlfriend, like Neha is in the movie. Her flaws were part of her nature, and she was that way with everybody, not just her boyfriend. They had their arguments, but at the end of the day they always made up. And unlike Neha in the movie, if they ever broke, she wouldn't find a new guy to hold her shopping bags.

As for the other two relationships depicted in the movie, well...why are the men wasting their time on women who are so not worth it? They're adults, but they act like lovestruck schoolboys.

I will not deny that a relationship can go any number of ways and it could be the woman's faults that eventually brings them down. But here, it is shown that all women in the world are manipulative witches who are only out to use men. Never mind the fact that statistics show that cheating rates are much higher in men than in women. Never mind the fact that the heroes' mothers are also women. Never mind that the men here seem more infatuated with the girls in question than in love. The film shows that all men are victims and relationships with women are impossible.

As an extra bonus, there's a five-minute monologue from Rajat about what the heck is so wrong with women. He doesn't talk about one woman in particular, but about women in general.



And it hurts.

Are we really living in an age where a movie like this can come out without angering women? The movie claims to be about the difficulties of relationships, but it end up being about how horrible women are. And the fact is, most men enjoyed it. Most men felt deeply sympathetic for the protagonists and enjoyed the heavy criticisms of women. Because, yeah, we are totally ruining your lives!

Here's the thing: I would never date any human being resembling any of our three protagonists in character. Why? Because they're the kind of men who fall in love too soon and for all the wrong reasons. They're the kind of men who refuse to take responsibility for what happens to them; it's always someone else's fault. Somebody needs to tell them that high school is over, and they're adults now.

For that matter, I would never be like any of the women in the film either. I may be a lot of things, but I wouldn't be oblivious if any of that were hurting my partner. I wouldn't be unfaithful, or use anybody for money. These are things that good people just don't do. It doesn't matter if they are men or women; all that matters is that they are good people.

Besides, this is a movie that stereotypes and looks down upon women, and turning it all into a big joke. How is that any different from making fun of Muslims or Sikhs or whatever other religious community, but really just criticising them underneath all the jokes? How is it any different from making fun of the disabled, or the elderly, or any ethnic community? How is it any different from a movie that says that all gay men love to go dancing with girls in flashing clothes and punctuate their sentences with their hips? How is it any different that if a woman were to make a movie about how all men are liars and cheats/ commitment phobic/ impossibly immature? Tell me. How is it any less discriminatory?

And if it really is that discriminatory, how come nobody realized that before laughing at the jokes? How come this became a mainstream Bollywood movie, and nobody cared what message it sends out?

Something to think about, isn't it?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sunday, October 11, 2015

What You Should And Shouldn't Learn From Fairytales: Beauty and the Beast


The Deal: Merchant has three girls, youngest is named Beauty. Beauty is kind and pure-hearted, also the underdog. Merchant goes abroad, girls want gifts upon his return. Beauty only wants a red rose. On his trip, merchant gets lost in the forest, takes shelter in the Beast's forest. He plucks out a rose from Beast's rose garden. Beast is not very happy. Merchant is scared, offers to give Beauty to Beast in return for his safe journey back home. Miss Goody Two Shoes Beauty willingly goes to Beast's Castle. Beast falls in love with Beauty and asks him to marry him, but she refuses because she's stubbornly friendzoned him. Beauty goes home for a week, and her sisters (those mean girls!) are jealous that she lives in a fabulous castle and beg her to stay. Beauty agrees, but feels guilty about abandoning Beast. She finds out that the Beast is dying of heartbreak, she rushes back to him and admits her love for him. Her tears fall on Beast and he is transformed into a prince. And then, well, happily ever after.

What You Shouldn't Learn From It: 
1. When your father basically pawns you off in exchange for his own safety, do not go wherever he's trying to send you. Just...run off to the Himalayas or something.
2. Not all sisters are mean and jealous. Most of them are your best friends for life. So don't let this story give you an idea of what sisters are like.
3. If your sisters really are mean and jealous, and they want you to stay home with them, well, just say you can't but you'll send emails all the time!
4. Don't fall in love with someone who has basically held you captive. That's called Stockholm Syndrome. And just because he looks like a beast doesn't mean you need to feel sorry for him. I mean, he's held you captive for God's sake, instead of, say, taking you out on a date. I understand the writers didn't think like this because the story was written ages ago, but it's been a while and we're smarter now.

What You Should Learn From It:
The way Beast turns into a handsome prince? That's just a metaphor for how the plainest of people can became beautiful in your eyes when you admit to their being good people and fall in love with them.