“It’s okay if the toxic masculine character is authentic & not glorified”
By Aniruddha Guha
Cinema is supposed to depict reality. If toxic masculinity exists in society, filmmakers and writers can’t shy away from showing it. But it depends on whether filmmakers are depicting it to make their story authentic or glorifying it and making it seem justified. The intent matters.
The glorification has stopped as we are now telling varied stories, with the genre of mass-y action movies going down from 2012.
Kabir Singh is an anomaly, as is its success. There was no logic to why it clicked. I intensely disliked the movie but I know a lot of women who loved the movie, irrespective of class.
But people aren’t going out of their way to create toxic male protagonists and actors are quite conscious of their choices.
This toxic male character isn’t going to disappear from our films. But it boils down to the filmmaker. For example, if Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) were made by a young director today, you will never have a scene where the guy removes lingerie from the suitcase and throws it in the female lead’s face.
Overall, the circuit today is more aware than it was earlier. It may be because we’re a generation that’s grown up on such movies and have learnt from the mistakes!
Aniruddha Guha is a screenwriter, and former film critic. His next film, Rashmi Rocket with Taapsee Pannu, releases later this year
“Women are changing, men are being forced to catch up”
By Namrata Zakaria
Movies have long upheld the idea of hyper masculinity in men. And cinema mirrors life. But, films in the last decade have seen a shift in the power equation between genders. Band Baaja Baraat sees Anushka Sharma’s character have a one night stand with her male business partner. When he isn’t interested, her life goes on.
There have been women-led movies where women chuck their dominating lovers for glorious independence. I see stronger female characters being written even in male dominated films simply because more women are getting educated and have jobs.
Kabir Singh was a reaction to the female wave in Bollywood. In Haseen Dillruba, on the one hand the female lead is strong enough to tell her husband about her affair, and on the other, she’s perfectly fine with him trying to set her on fire as she thinks she deserves it. This is my biggest bugbear with the film. The subliminal idea. The idea of mad love that sheds blood is dangerous.
There will be the odd male trying to be the male. But he won’t succeed. Ranbir Kapoor’s lost, commitment-phobic boy-man will be taken over by the metrosexual Ranveer. Women are changing, and men are being forced to catch up. Women will now keep a man by her side only if he respects her choices.
Namrata Zakaria is a journalist and expert who writes about fashion, culture and feminism
From HT Brunch, July 18, 2021
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