It is so sad that a contemporary writing platform as reputed and successful as Vagabomb could not make a distinction between the personal and professional choices of Bollywood actors.
Vagabomb was bashed by readers for its article titled Dear Rational People, It’s Time to Boycott the ‘Bad Boys’ of Bollywood, which was published on the 30th of April.
In the comments of the article, Vagabomb witnessed its major reader base, the youth, accusing it of spreading toxic feminism.
The article is a rant against actors like Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt, who have been acting in major blockbuster films for decades but at the same time have criminal records to their credit, that aren’t per say clean.
The author opposes toxic masculinity, and until this point we think the article is absolutely valid. We reject the killing of endangered animals and vehicular manslaughter that Salman Khan indulged in. His stardom and skill, will and never should be enough to make up for these criminal acts, and the article very rightly says so.
Our Problem With The Article
But while referring to the idea of ‘bad boys’ in its title, this article does not limit its judgement to the real-life actions of these actors.
The judgement and bias spills over to the kind of movies these actors act in and the kind of roles they take up. This criticism gives birth to toxic feminism.
“There is nothing redeemable about playing and glorifying male characters that are toxic, shallow, and violent simply because your parents were big names in the industry.
We think it is problematic for the author to use the words playing and glorifying, in the same breath, as if they are interchangeable.
When an actor plays the role of a bad boy in a movie, he does not promote the behaviour and mannerisms of the character.
Saying that Salman Khan spreads evil and corruption in the society by acting in Dabang is as ridiculous as saying that an actor who commits suicide on screen, advocates for suicide in real life. It is as ridiculous as accusing Shahid Kapoor of being a bad boy for his role in Rajkumar.
We think its important to specify who the ‘bad boys of Bollywood’ are and what makes them bad. If playing the character of a bad boy who indulges in eve-teasing, drugs and violence, is enough to make Salman Khan bad, then we should hang Amrish Puri for playing the evil role of Mogambo in Mr. India.
While speaking about Sanjay Dutt, the author says,
“In the films front, he has always played characters that were champions of toxic masculinity, thuggery, and patriarchy. He is almost 60 and will still be paired with female actors half his age (a common theme in Bollywood).”
On Screen and Off Screen
The author feels it’s necessary to shame Dutt for the kind of movies he chose to do! For a second, even if we were to believe that, judging actors on movie characters is a legitimate method of evaluating them, we think it is ridiculous that the author has stooped down to picking and choosing Dutt’s negative roles from over 120 of his films. We also don’t see how Dutt is to blame for the fact that he is offered films in which he romances younger actresses.
We think movies are made by emulating real life people and situations. Most Hindi movies are based on the kind of society we live in. If patriarchal men exist in the society, it is only natural for such characters to exist in movies. Movies throw light upon the evils that exist in society, with an objective to make people more aware of them rather than to glorify them or encourage them.
There exists a huge difference between filming a rape scene and promoting rape culture.
Glorification and Narration Are Different
While referring to the imminent film ‘Sanju’ that is Sanjay Dutt’s biopic, the author says,
“Making a film, glorifying the life of such a man in a ‘light-hearted’ manner is proving that you are ready to forgive this man for his toxic behaviour, when really he should be held accountable for it and called out on it till he realises it and confronts it.”
Firstly, it is sad that the author holds such a horrible description of a movie that hasn’t even been released yet, and on top of that, she ridiculously assumes that making a movie on the life of Sanjay Dutt, is the same as glorifying him and forgiving his crimes.
In a majority of Dutt and Khan movies, the end of the so called ‘bad boy’ is not rosy. The plots ensure that the ‘bad boy’ mends his ways by improving and becoming a better person. If there exists an audience that chooses to emulate the evils of every character, we need to work on changing the habits and ideas of such an audience, rather than censoring our movies.
We need to stop pushing the burdens of our illiteracy and gullibility on our artists. Until and unless, an actor explicitly promotes the mannerisms of his character in real life (off screen), we don’t think he is promoting let alone ‘glorifying’ any kind of evil or patriarchal behavior.
Image Credits: Google Images
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