Sexist dialogues from Hindi films can fill volumes of books. For ages, we have heard dialogues like "hathon me chudiya peheni hui hai kya (Are you wearing bangles)?" and "balatkar se yaad aya meri biwi kaha hai (Rape reminds me, where is my wife)?" being passed off as taunts or jokes. Does this not make you want to scream and shout at the screen saying "Baas karo." Alas! Bollywood does not understand the word stop.
Hindi films have been a concoction of all things good and bad, just like our society. At times it takes on a topic that is sensitive, mainstream and progressive but the irony is that in the adjacent hall there will be playing a film with a hero flying in every scene to save a woman's izzat or lecturing her on virtues of womanhood.
It has gone on for ages under the perfect garb of comedy, romance and especially to make the hearo appear larger than life. It is scary how we, as an audience, have grown used to such content, looking the other way while others enjoy such "mindless comedy." The frustrating part is when someone interjects your rant on sexist dialogues in films and patronisingly says, "Aree, ye toh comedy film hai, itna dimaag nahi lagate."
Suggested Reading: 18 Sexist Dialogues Bollywood Should Put a Delete On
It is not like the phenomenon of sexist dialogues ceased to exist in the new millennium. Recent films like"> Satyameva Jayate 2 or Hungama 2 or Dabangg or Ready or Wanted or many others like it prove that times have not changed much. People still enjoy such banter. They seek comfort in the familiarity of humour in testing times, and while that makes sense, it doesn't change how problematic such dialogues can be.
However, the sexism in Hindi film dialogues isn't always demeaning, it is often benevolent and protective in nature. Dialogues like "Meri beti ki taraf ankh utha ki bhi mat dekhna" reduce women to mere weak dependents who must be protected by the men in their life. In films like Kabir Singh, we see the male lead even decide who should his lady love hang out with. "Fat chicks are like teddy bear. They are soft and loyal. Far chicks and good looking chicks are a good combination," the protagonist tells his girlfriend.
It is not as if women don't voice what they feel about these scenes. But who is listening? Who wants to change the narrative? Who is analysing the impact sexist dialogues have on young minds? The problem isn't entirely industry-driven though. It is an unending cycle that we have failed to break free of to date. Films are influenced by social practices. They are driven by mass demands, providing what will earn them more footfall at the theatre. In turn, sexist dialogues reinforce preexisting sexist mindsets, validating toxic behaviour. Society doesn't want to change, the film industry doesn't want to evolve.
One cannot generalise Hindi cinema, true. But one needs to open their eyes and mind to criticise the cinema which further propagates and highlights sexism, violence against women in a glamorous light. Let us be more critical and not hesitate to make noise about sexist Hindi film dialogues which defeat the purpose of educating people on gender equality.
And yet, despite all the noise about sexism, many people wouldn't think twice when a big-budget film with a sexist but macho male lead makes it to the theatres. Sexism in Hindi films bothers us, but not enough for us to boycott problematic films, or call out the makers of such projects. Perhaps we still do not understand how long-lasting and deep-rooted the repercussions of such films are.
Views expressed are the author's own.