I was stalked. That’s when I realised what’s wrong with Bollywood glorifying stalking

Jeeta Mohanty
R rajkumar

How the hero chased the girl until she said yes

My parents were huge cinephiles, so I grew up on a staple diet of Indian cinema, both the latest films and oldies. Among oldies, nothing could beat a Shammi Kapoor film for good time-pass.

His movies mostly follow a fixed formula. In a beautiful place like Kashmir or Shimla the paths of Shammi Kapoor and the heroine cross. For Shammi Kapoor it is always love at first sight. But the heroine thinks he is only a Jungli, Janwar or Badtameez. But he never takes “no” for “no” and start “chasing” her till the “no” becomes “yes”. Other actors like Joy Mukherjee and Biswajit tried their hands in such formula of chasing, too.

Related reading: 5 ways to stop stalking your ex on social media

Beautiful settings and happy endings

Everything about these chases is beautiful: the scenery, the people, the clothes and the songs; especially the songs. Who can ever forget songs like Pukarta chala hun main or Badan pe sitare lapete hue! Sometimes the best friend of the heroine helps in this chase, too, by giving him vital information about her friend. In the end, the heroine realises she was only rejecting what is the best thing for her, that is, the truest love. She says yes to her chaser and it’s a happy ending for all.

She says yes to her chaser and it’s a happy ending for all.

Chasing became more physical in the ‘70s and ‘80s with Jitendra, Mithun and even Amitabh Bachchan. Can you remember Jaanu meri jaan (Shaan)? The actors were almost manhandling the women. In 1990 Aamir Khan took this to a different level when he chased Madhuri Dikshit for the whole film in Diwana Mujhsa Nahin, although she was engaged to another man. She relented in the end, because “true love” after all.

Chasing a girl is not the same as wooing her with her consent

The point to be noted here is that chasing is not same as wooing. Wooing is more about visiting a girl with some flowers or taking her to dinner with her consent.

Chasing is literally when the hero chases an unwilling girl as in Pukarta chala hun (Mere Sanam); then sometimes becomes a peeping Tom like in the song Aaja aayi bahar (Raj Kumar); some other time he sneaks into the girl’s house in the middle of the night and starts singing Janam janam ka saath hai (Tumse Achha Kaun Hai). What would a girl feel if these things happen to her in real life? How scary would it be, finding a man in your place in the middle of the night? If we drop all sugar-coating, then “chasing” would be called stalking in real life.

In the early ‘90s, for the first time Hindi films showed us chasing as stalking in Darr. Shahrukh played the stalker, but still he was not shown as the typical Bollywood villain. His deed was backed by mental illness and he stalked the girl singing soft romantic Jadu teri nazar. His character was so glorified that today hardly anyone would remember Darr had Sunny Deol as the main lead. Shahrukh went ahead and played the stalker again in Anjaam, where again he stalked and killed for his “love”, while on the side crooning Badi mushkil hai.

Movies normalise and romanticise stalking with beautiful songs and dialogue splattered with “true love”. We take it as we see it, till we see it in real life. For me, unfortunately, it had happened in real life.

Related reading: 8 ways to cope with unrequited love

It really happened to me

The first time I lived in a hostel, a faceless voice plagued me with phone calls and giving information about myself. The final blow happened when one evening I returned to an almost empty hostel to find a note from him on my door. I screamed till a small crowd gathered around. We never could find which girl had played the messenger and had brought the note inside the hostel, so I got it into my head that he had sneaked in himself. This broke me so much that I still have a tough time sleeping if I am alone at night. My friends would have thought any suggestion of helping the stalker as scandalous and a crime. I spent years looking over my shoulder, with that came the realisation stalking is never a romantic gesture; it is only a predatory gesture.

Misogyny by the media

Stalking is not romantic, yet it is misogyny by the media to depict it that way. Because how dare any woman refuse to a man’s advances! She is inferior, hence she should stop throwing attitude and accept the man even if he is obnoxious, unemployed, unlikeable, a brute or illiterate a la ……main angutha chhap padhna aur likhna jaanuna (Raja Babu). Audience just love it when finally the hero manages to “show the attitude throwing girl her proper place”.

The scary part is, these movie depictions not only make girls think stalking is romantic, but give ideas to boys that “no” means “maybe” and it can be turned into “yes” if they keep the attitude of tera peechha na chhodunga till the girl recognises the true love and starts singing o mere shona re….maine tujhe zara der main jana hua kasoor khafa mat hona…..

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