Bollywood does not have a reputation for giving us male characters that are nuanced and worthy of rooting for, on a consistent basis. Even in 2019, we had films heavy with misogyny, led from the front by “heroes” who may earn applause and whistles, but also make a lot of us uneasy.
In Bollywood, the idea of the “hero” who beats up thirty goons at a time and saves the damsel in distress is still prominent in several movies. Such male characters set an unachievable ideal for impressionable young men. To fight against the stereotype of the macho man who saves the day, it is important to have nuanced, sensitive and real male characters. Men who are respectful and sensitive; men who don’t know all the answers, and men who treat the women around them as people. In 2019, we saw some films with such male characters and here are our top five:
Murad, Gully Boy
Murad is one of those rare male characters who seem like real people.
Zoya Akhtar‘s film Gully Boy‘s protagonist is Murad, a young aspiring rapper from the slum district of Dharavi. Murad’s characterization is important because he doesn’t fit into the stereotype of the misogynistic, macho rapper. He is hardworking, respects his girlfriend Safina and is sensitive. He sees the world differently and wants to reach out to people. In one scene, he is seen wanting to comfort a wealthy girl who he is working as a driver for. Murad is one of those rare male characters who seem like real people.
Sahil Mirza, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga
Sahil is a struggling playwright in this film that’s about the freedom to love whoever we choose. Although he falls for the protagonist Sweety played by Sonam Kapoor, he respects her sexuality when he finds out that she is attracted to women. Unlike typical male characters, he does not react harshly to the reveal. Instead, he does what is most important – he is a good friend to Sweety. He supports her and helps her out. Leaving aside the narrative of the film, Sahil’s character is ultimately one of acceptance and empathy.
Ayan Ranjan, Article 15
IPS Officer Ayan Ranjan in Article 15 is a character that finds himself in a world that he does not understand, although it’s so close to his own. Relatable to the urban, modern man, he is unaware of caste privilege and caste issues. However, Ayan is a character who learns, grows and is horrified at what he finds. He goes on to try and fix things. He soon realizes he can’t fix them all on his own, which makes him more human than most male characters in Bollywood films.
IPS Officer Ayan Ranjan in Article 15 is a character that finds himself in a world that he does not understand, although it’s so close to his own.
Niren Chaudhary, The Sky Is Pink
A father who loses his young, 18-year-old daughter to disease, Niren Chaudhary is a character that touches hearts. A dependable man who just wants to support his family in any way he can, he is the everyday father figure. The character is real and raw. He is a loving father, a supportive husband but he comes with his own flaws which only get triggered in the face of the crisis that the family is going through.
Karamveer Singh, Dream Girl
A young boy trying to make ends meet takes up a job where he has to pretend to be a woman on the phone. Although Karamveer’s character could have been taken to a place that reduces women to a caricature, he instead keeps Puja real. The boy from Gokul soon discovers that despite the sleazes he encounters, there are actual, decent people out there. He finds empathy and connection with the people who call him. This is a character that tries to do something different, something society would look down upon him for, and manages to not be ashamed of himself.
Picture Credit: Scroll.in
Prapti is an intern at SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are the author’s own.
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