Filmmaker Karan Johar needs a sensitization class on how not to glorify toxic unrequited love. In a recent interview, he said that he gave the character of Alizeh in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil cancer, because she rejected Ayan in love. So even in Johar’s glossy and urbane celluloid world, women have no escape from the consequences of rejecting advances. Even if they are from an aggressive self-centred man-child who doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “no”. Johar’s retribution, as the film’s maker, is juvenile at best. And does he understand how he glosses over a problem so many women face in our society?

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • Karan Johar has revealed that he gave Alizeh’s character cancer in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil because she didn’t love Ayan back.
  • Johar’s logic shows his impertinence for women’s agency.
  • However, it is very common for men jilted in love to carry such fantasies in their heads. 
  • People have every right to reject even “pure” love, if they don’t feel the same way the other person.

So even in Johar’s glossy and urbane celluloid world, women have no escape from the consequences of rejecting advances.

Speaking about Ae Dil Hai Mushkil during an interview with the HuffPost, Johar said, “When I made this film, I felt that this should make Rs 100 crore. I wanted the film to make its money back, which it did and was declared a good film. Yes, the last track met with many polarised responses and rightfully so, but I was like she (Anushka Sharma’s character Alizeh who doesn’t reciprocate Ayan’s feelings) didn’t love him, she has to die. I wrote this character. He loved her so crazily. She could’ve loved him back, why couldn’t she? So she got cancer and she died.”

Now hold your horses of outrage just yet, because he further added, “Well, she got punished, I wrote it. See, a filmmaker is a God, you write, you create, and you destroy.” Had I not known better, I would have assumed that the philosophy behind ADHM’s ending was a work of fantasy of some incel, written and left to rot in some dingy corner of the Internet. But this story is the brainchild of one of the poshest directors in our country. Someone who can colour heartache pink and make pain frothy. Which is why it is so much more disturbing. Even in this world girls must suffer for rejecting a man’s love.

Johar’s logic shows his impertinence for women’s agency.

Isn’t this an idea so many arrogant and entitled men carry in their heads in our country? Isn’t it a fantasy that jealous men play on the loop in their heads when women reject their unwanted “love”? May she marry the worse man on this planet. May her face gets mangled in a freak accident. Or may she never find happiness ever in her life, because how dare she reject my “pure” love? Some jilted men just let these be fantasies. Others act on them. They get violent with women, they rape or throw acid on them or shoot them. At the root of their actions is the same conviction. She must be punished for rejecting a man’s “pure” love.

Johar’s logic shows his impertinence for women’s agency. Just because Ayan’s love is pure, does it mean that Alizeh was obliged to reciprocate? We cannot trick ourselves to love back a person because they love us. This isn’t much about gender and misogyny for Johar though. Perhaps he just fails to understand that glamorising toxic unrequited love tells men in our country to feel entitled to being loved by the women they love. Perhaps it’s his way of getting those bitter feelings that he harbours in his heart. (Karan revealed that the film was based on his personal experience of unrequited love.)

Someone needs to tell Johar that this isn’t how love or even karma works.

Someone needs to tell Johar that one-sided love doesn’t give you the right to wish ill. This is something people in this country need to understand. Women and men have the right to reject the proclamation of “pure” love if they don’t feel the same about you. You cannot justify aggression as fitting retributions. Nor can you call these people cruel or heartless for not feeling the same way about you. Let it go and move on.

Picture Credit: NewsMobile

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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