If patriarchy is a woman’s biggest enemy, then Bollywood is the one-stop-shop for all those patriarchal elements being airbrushed as sanskaar and handed over to her as ‘ek chutki sindur’, ‘suhaag ki takat’, ‘mehendi ka rang’, ‘karva chauth ka vrat‘, ‘pati hi parmeshwar‘ and virgin till betrothed. The Poojas and the Nishas of the world have made our life pretty difficult. They set weird standards of existence for women, yet miraculously you will never encounter such women in real life.
They are mostly fair, extremely good-looking, talk in a hush-hush tone; blush and smile even while facing period cramps(no, they don’t show that bit in the movies); they keep their virginity intact till they get married; they are the tyag ki murti; they are so sanskaari that even their backless choli signify naivete and innocence.
We list out seven such characters from Bollywood movies, who were made to look perfect and sweet but in reality were either selfish or dumb or just the extreme fantasy of the sanksaari Indian filmmakers.
Poonam from Vivaah
Amrita Rao playa a shy, soft-spoken, girl – who reads Hindi novels and wears only traditional clothes — a walking example of a model sanskaari woman. Her love for her family knew no bounds even when her foster parent, in this case, her aunt treated her like $h!t. She herself got under the burning shackle in order to save her stepsister. Now, all that family love is still fine. People do know no boundaries when it comes to saving one’s family. But, what was it between her and her fiance Prem, played by Shahid Kapoor? She hardly ever looked at Prem. She doesn’t even bother to ask Prem any questions when they meet for the first and the final time before their relatives say “rishta pakka hai”. For her, the real expression of love is to drink from the same glass as her fiance while hiding it from the whole world – as if she is committing some crime. Nobody behaves like this, nobody. I bet!
Priya from Chori Chori Chupke Chupke
This film tried to deal with the subject of surrogacy at a time when people were still making teenybopper romance. But it failed to do justice to the complex subject at hand. Rani Mukerji played the character of Priya Malhotra, who goes into depression because of her inability to have a child. She emotionally blackmails her husband Raj Malhotra (Salman Khan) to have a surrogate child with another woman — in hiding, so that her in-laws don’t come to know about her fertility issues. Well, you see. What is a woman’s worth if she can’t give the family their vansh ka vaarish. Enters Preity Zinta aka Madhubala, a bar dancer.
Now, Priya’s obsession with upholding the values of the perfect Indian bahu is such that she is ready to risk her relationship with her loving husband. Despite her husband’s reluctance, she forces him and Madhubala in an awkwardly complex situation. At the same time, she doesn’t want to come across as a selfish woman who is exploiting another woman’s womb to maintain her reputation in front of her husband’s family. So to compensate for that she temporarily makes Madhubala experience all the happiness and security that comes with becoming the bahu of a rich, upper caste family. Her share of Mehendi and jewellery goes to Madhubala – again all in hiding, under the protective cover of a ghoongat.
Eventually, Madhubala asks for her share of the pie for giving up her child – she wants her husband in return. Well, girl that’s quite logical isn’t it? If you want to fake your so-called perfection in front of your in-laws, you gotta pay a price for it.
All the temporary sweetness showed by Priya only emboldened Madhubala to dream about a happily married life without the need to go back to dancing in front of drunk men (Madhubala didn’t understand that marriage was a different kind of slavery, but that’s a topic for another debate).
So, while Priya might look like a humane and sweet character with all the attributes of a perfect Indian woman, in reality, she was utterly selfish and shortsighted, to say the least.
Jhanavi from Judai
All of us who have seen this Anil Kapoor, Sridevi and Urmila Matondkar starrer were made to believe that Kaajal (played by Sridevi) was the real villain. After all, she is the one who sells her husband to another woman for money. But, come on, the other woman here, Jhanavi Sahni (played by Urmila), was equally responsible for the weird story-line. To begin with, Jhanavi was perfect — beautiful, rich, modern, sensible and sensitive. But then she acted quite dumb. We will totally judge a woman for buying a man’s love with the hard-earned money of her father.
Payal from Ishq Vishk
‘Agar tumhara pyar jaana chahe toh usse jaane do … agar woh laut kar aaye toh woh tumhara hai, nahi toh samajh lena ki vo tumhara kabhi tha hi nahi…’ Amrita Rao’s Payal in Ishq Vishk sacrificed it all for her love. She even observed Karva Chauth fast for the man who didn’t even respect her, let alone love.
Suman from Maine Pyar Kiya
What kind of a girl fits into a dress that she isn’t comfortable wearing, but would still go ahead and wear it because her boyfriend doesn’t respect the way she dresses and wants her to dress in a certain way. That’s getting women all wrong. They love their pajamas as much love their little black-dress but comfort and consent are of paramount importance, not how a juvenile ashiq imagines us to be.
Sapna from Chal Mere Bhai
Prem, played by Salman Khan didn’t have the b***s to tell his family that he is in love with the woman his family is considering as a prospective bride for his brother. Chalo, we get that. We all have encountered such spineless men. But what about Sapna? Why did she agree to get married to Prem’s elder brother? Just because Prem asked her to do so. Is this woman for real?
Shanti from Om Shanti Om
She was a beautiful actress with a golden heart. She liked her fans, respected them but hey, who goes out at night, alone, with a fan whom you have barely met once. Okay, he saved your life and all that but you know the world is creepy out there. Don’t you? No woman (even if you are a top-notch actress), there is no need to behave this sweet with any man (or any woman too).