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Just One Slap? Why Movies Normalising Violence Is A Grave Concern

The portrayal of violence on-screen has long been subject of heated debates. When movies normalise thappad, how will the viewers oppose it? The depiction of violence, especially when normalised, is not just matter of artistic expression but a grave concern.

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Rudrani Gupta
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animal slap

A still from Animal

Thappad - the word and its sound echo in my mind making me numb to everything around me. I have witnessed thappad as a way to control a wife and a child. Even though the marks and moment have passed, the memories haven't. I live every day in the fear of what if the thappad returns to my life. People say watch movies to seek relief from trauma but how should I tell them that even the most popular movies only worsen the trauma? Yes. The movies that normalise a slap and then compensate for it with love stories and songs that are unforgettable. Even one slap scene in the movie is enough for me to shed tears but not enough for the makers to sensitise people against domestic violence. 

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Here is a list of movies that normalised thappad and domestic violence. 

Thappad of Patriarchy normalised by these movies

Animal

The movie was a blockbuster. It made the idea of alpha men famous. But what about the toxicity in marriage that it normalised? Swooning and romantic songs in the background cannot justify or reduce the intensity of cheating, violence and subversion in marriage. Remember the scene when the lead hero confesses about his 'fake' extra-marital affair to his wife? There were fights, shoutings and claims to end the marriage.

But somehow the scene turned around and the hero was standing with a huge gun pointed at his wife! He even tried to strangulate her. Why? Because she said that he has an unusual relationship with his father. Was this more intense than the cheating the hero committed? Was violence an answer to the statement that the wife made? Remember the marital rape scene of Abrar with his wives? That scene itself would have been enough to disgust us. The unnecessary bloodshed was not even needed.   

Kabir Singh

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We all never this movie. Some remember it for its songs, some for the charm of the hero and chemistry with the heroine and others for the slaps it normalised. The movie very conveniently said that men have rights over women - they can not only kiss them but also slap them. I never watched the movies because of the toxicity it peddled. And yet, the movie was a blockbuster. 

Dil

The movie was released years ago with Madhuri Dixit and Amir Khan in the lead but it was no different from the movies of today when it comes to normalising domestic violence. In the movie, Khan's character Raaja slaps his wife Madhu because she wants to leave his house and the marriage for his well-being. No matter how sane or illogical the reason maybe about fights between couples, slapping or abusing is never the answer. 

Laadla 

This movie showed the male lead Raju, played by Anil Kapoor, slap Sheetal, Sridevi, five times! Yes, you heard that right! Raju slaps Sheetal five times because she forgot her 'Bhartiya Sabhyata'. In the scene, Sheeta, the owner of an industry, slaps Raju, a worker, for touching her while trying to save her from the ill-attempts of the villain. Then, Raju walks into her office and slaps her five times. He gives reasons for each and then says - "You burnt your car when I touched it. Today I touched you. What are you gonna do?"

Raanjhana

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The film that normalised and romanticised stalking. In this movie, the difference is that the woman slaps the man for stalking her. But does that stop him from stalking? No. He rather says, "utna toh hum soch kar aaye the, mar do." He meets the woman everyday just to get slapped. The slap, which is supposed to be a medium to defend the woman and stop the stalker, is sexualised as the excuse through which the man gets to feel the woman's touch. Gross? 

Ishaqzaade

The movie had many slap scenes but the most controversial was when Parma (Arjun Kapoor) is slapped by Zoya (Parineeti Chopra) for disrespecting her father. How does Parma react? He retaliates by pointing gun at her. Later, in another scene, Parma expresses his love for Zoya by forcefully pinning her against the wall. Even though Zoya asks him to let her go and even uses violence for defence, he doesn't budge. So what do we learn? Slap and violence are part of love stories? 

Views expressed are the author's own.

marriage and patriarchy Bollywood
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