Monday, August 13, 2012

The Bhartiya Naari and the Bitch in Bollywood

How many of you out there remember the song "Wo Mera Hoga" , one of Ila Arun's superhit songs? I think it came out sometime in the 90's. About this guy who has two girls fawning over him, one an Indian 'modern'  woman who wears revealing clothes, drinks and smokes, and the other the gaon ki gori who is the 'good Indian girl'. The guy is promised to the modern woman and takes her back to his gaon for a visit, where the song actually happens. And the good girl's bhartiya sanskaar make the guy ditch his 'modern' girlfriend for the good girl. Moral of the story: Girls who drink and smoke do not get the guy.

So it is a bit discouraging that even after fifteen or so years have passed, the same idea was repeated in Cocktail. Yes, the good bhartiya naari who is religious, does puja regularly, does not drink or smoke or wear revealing clothes and washes ALL THE DIRTY CLOTHES in the house, is the one who gets the guy (yes, I kept wondering about the washing dirty clothes trope in the movie). Our patriarchal ideas about the women Indian men want to marry (as opposed to the women Indian men want to sleep with) does not change. Girls who are promiscuous, and indulge in such sins like drinking, are not the ones they want to take home to Mommy dearest. No matter that the girl is one of the most giving large-hearted generous and kind souls you would ever meet.

The sad part of the movie was Deepika trying to fit into the mould of the "good desi girl": wearing salwar-kameezes, doing puja and DOING THE LAUNDRY (yes, after all, that defines a good girl). Seriously, it is time to stop adapting to some impossible ideal of womanly goodness and virtue, and let the world accept that girls do party, like to drink and sometimes even sleep around (did I hear a few thuds and gasps!). And she tries to reform herself for a guy like Saif Ali Khan's character, who is basically a major sleaze/scumbag.

When do we stop obsessing over this approval for men, and their mothers? When do we realize that true goodness does not come from what we drink or what we wear, but from what we are? Aren't most of the women who are the perpetrators of female foeticide/dowry etc. all dressed in traditional Indian garb most of the time? Does that make them even remotely GOOD?

And when, oh when, do we stop this need for male approval? I was listening to the superhit song 'Tumhi ho Bandhu' from the movie.

And it says
"Jab yaar kare parwaah meri, mujhe kya parwaah iss duniya ki". 
Right. As long as my guy/man gives me love, care, validation and self esteem, I don't care about anything else. Bas my lover should care for me, and that is all that matters!!

This reminded me of another song that I have always had a bit of a problem swallowing, from the 1962 movie 'Anpadh'.

"Aapki nazron ne samjha, pyaar ke kaabil mujhe, dil ki ae dhadkan thaher jaa, mil gayi manzil mujhe" - Since your eyes now deem me worthy of your love, I now feel I have achieved my objective/destination.

Well, since I was/am nobody without your acceptance, thanks for the validation, guy! However, I've always controlled my irritation with the song because this movie was made in 1962! Also, the eventual premise of the movie is about the importance of women's education.

1962 and Cocktail in 2012! What has changed in these fifty years? Why hasn't Bollywood grown up? Or atleast, shaken off the shackles of the good bhartiya naari and shown us that the Bitch can win too? Isn't Bollywood itself being the demure, coy desi girl who craves the validation of the Indian masses and will therefore not let the Bitch triumph? Oh, but a time will come when the heart and what truly matters will shine through, when sanskaar will mean more than just dressing and behaving a certain way. I'm rooting for you, the Great Indian Bitch. Every dog has its day, and so does the Bitch!


Titaxy said...

So totally liked this post. Every word.

Rachna said...

@Titaxy- Thank you so much! And welcome to this blog.

Richa said...

"Every dog has its day, and so does the Bitch!"

Loved this line!

Anyway, totally agreed. The Anpadh song actually made more sense to me than the other two. That movie was about an illiterate woman in 1960s who had nothing else in her life except her husband and his approval. I guess that was kind of message of that movie. But a modern, independent, highly educated women singing those songs is completely and totally ridiculous.

Talking of patriarchy (and going completely off-topic), did you notice how all that sports event are normally named as hockey and women hockey or football and women football. Its as if sports are meant to be played by men. Women playing them is an addendum...