The last time Kangna was on screen, she inspired many girls to be dumped by their fiances and take off on an adventure.
In Tanu Weds Manu Returns, she’s in a double role where both her characters are strong women (which merely means they were attributed characteristics other than bubbliness, vivaciousness and a dramatic switch to ‘decent’ clothes after falling in love with the hero).
But the movie drags on in a bizarre series of events, leaving you wondering when the original disastrous couple are finally getting back together. At least, you hope that he’ll end up with Tanu because Kusum is way out of his league. However, it’s not a complete waste of a film. You do get to see a sardar in shiny garba attire playing dandiya.
Kangna has been praised for her performance, and also for being the first female lead to carry a movie into the sycophantic hundred-crore film club. Not that she doesn’t deserve the laurels, but what I really want to talk about is R. Madhavan’s character, Manu. Being a doctor, a quintessential ‘good guy’, a resident of London, a doctor, a resident of London, a quiet well-behaved person and a doctor, he is accorded the kind of self-worth that was previously only reserved for beautiful virgin princesses.
In the dramatic series of events that follow, Manu goes on to demonstrate one of the worst rebound relationships in the history of mankind. He stalks a young college girl who looks like his wife, makes her stand up to fight with her conservative Haryanvi family so that she could marry him and then refuses to have any semblance of courage to speak up and tell her the marriage isn’t going to work when he feels it isn’t right. His wife, Tanu, though neurotic, shows the stubbornness and grit to get back her husband. On the other hand, the only thing Manu is stubborn about is his refusal to think before making the decision to marry. And to be a nuisance to Raja Awasthi whenever he attempts to get married.
Tanu was a player and doing absolutely nothing in London instead of enjoying all the attention and freedom that she previously did in Kanpur. That’s not a sign of a very mature personality, and Manu would have realised that if he had bothered considering that before, but he was too busy being the creep who kisses an unconscious girl, and then wants to marry her (that seems to be his reaction to everything).
As I write this, I have realised that Manu Sharma is in fact, the quintessential Bollywood heroine. He has no personality, waits around to be rescued and has no particular interests other than wanting to be married. Tanu and Kusum would do well to take a cue from Rani and go away on a trip far away from him—they would forget all about Sharma.
They’re the ones whose mundaneness we marvel at, and whose career decisions we jeer at. Celebrity culture has provided even the most insignificant of us the opportunity to assume roles moral superiority, and fashion critics. If it wasn’t for them, we would have only funny animal videos to fall back upon for small talk.
It’s only logical that we ask them for their opinion on issues and have feelings of outrage or rapt admiration. This is precisely why we started asking every vagina owner who’s been on TV/movies about women’s rights and feminism. It’s like asking every car owner about the inner mechanisms of the vehicle. Or asking every bank account owner about the economy. But since feminism comes under humanities, opinions are much easier to fake.
We love nothing more than when women pretend to be humans by declaring their love for food, requesting to be asked about their work rather than their booties and asking for as much pay as their glorious male peers. It even makes us care about currently-irrelevant women like Mallika Sherawat and her tiff with a reporter, and potentially irrelevant women like Radhika Apte. That’s internet feminism, I suppose.
Another exciting but inconsequential and futile attempt at understanding women’s rights was Homi Adjania’s ‘My choice’ video. As the old saying goes, put it in monochrome and it looks important enough for every man, woman, fish and reptile to discuss. The creators of democracy clearly didn’t foresee the internet and the diarrhoea of opinions that would give an outlet to.
Internet feminism is like an open donation box for crisis relief. It began with good intentions, and if you really dig deep into the box you will find some useful donations that will help the victims. Then there are misguided charitable offerings that were meant to help, but miss the point. But most of the donations will baffle you and make you marvel at the minds of those who thought these things belong to a donation box. At least there’s one field where men and women are truly equal: in being passionate about their vastly misguided opinions.
A recent social media campaign that I came across was published in an online article with the wonderful headline: ‘Social media campaign tries to make a point about feminism, fails spectacularly’ (http://i100.independent.co.uk/article/social-media-campaign-tries-to-make-a-point-about-feminism-fails-spectacularly–eJg8ZlBFoWZ). This came with the hashtag under which the campaign functioned, #BlameOneNotAll. This was also one of those campaigns where women hold up quotes that express how they feel so that men can see how non-intimidating their opinions are and so that they can shove the image into the face of anyone who says “I hope you’re not one of those feminist types…” This is excellent news for ‘meninist’ campaigns, who can now repost these images and claim to be in love with these women.
The campaign posters, some of them as artfully composed as the hashtag, included some gems like ‘My favorite professor and he doesn’t show any inappropriate gesture’, or ‘When my parents are not around, my uncle doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable’.
This is a rather unfair trend. In fact, it has just aggravated gender inequality. You never get to see pictures of men holding boards saying ‘I saw a woman today and she did not invoke me to harass her by dressing provocatively’. Or ‘I have a female colleague and she doesn’t voice her opinions in public.’
It’s fascinating how something as beloved as a male child turns into something so threatening to our society as an adult unmarried individual. More than having 24 hour electricity and water supply, a point of immense pride for the landlords is ‘no bachelors’. It seems to be a great achievement for landlords to have warded off the ominous presence of bachelors.
House rentals might be one of the few places where single women have it easier. Perhaps it’s because people think they may turn the house into a minor disaster area, having had no previous contact with chores, especially the ones related to the kitchen area. Perhaps it’s because they may turn the home into a drugs-alcohol-orgy sanctuary, because that’s what young people do. Besides, its much easier to judge and publicly shame the females. Maybe landlords are afraid bachelors may start a drug racket. Or worse, have a gay party. I mean, there are only that many gay parties the police can crash per night.
Being married seems to be the best quality that tenants can have. That makes sense, because proof of having gone through the several wedding ceremonies is a true mark of patience and tolerance. This is one of the reasons an organisation like ISIS cannot survive in India. All their members would give in to the Auntyji pressure group and get hitched.
Even though there are better ways to judge the character of a potential tenant (such as non-ironically retweeting Kamaal R Khan), we choose to pick bachelorhood as the guiding stone. But you can see how people may think bachelors are evil satanic beings. In fact, some of us only stopped judging Narendra Modi’s intentions after we found out about his secret wife. Him ignoring the existence of his wife made the common man identify with him more than any other politician.
It’s wonderful how our society has come up with a universal solution to all your problems: get married. Marriage may not solve anything, but at least you can pretend to laugh at the same husband-wife forwarded jokes like everyone else.
It’s a month to my 25th birthday, and I’m still waiting for it to happen. But even being bombarded by ‘things that’ll turn ten this year’ and ‘things that’ll turn twenty this year’ stories hasn’t brought in my quarter-life crisis, so I don’t know what will.
I must have missed the point of childhood, since everyone wants to go back there, whereas I dread this to the very core. Go back to childhood? Sure. I would love to be randomly picked up, touched and smiled at creepily by larger humans. I would love to go back to the time when I was forced into a closed space with children my age and taught about things that would have no relevance in your adult life, such as equality, individual liberty and dignity of labour. Or when I forgot my homework and was led to believe that this is the end of the world. Or when you were constantly told to behave because you’ve grown up now, and then not being given tea and coffee as every grown up deserves. Perhaps people miss the days of being forced in the company of other kids because ‘they’re your age, play with them’? Or being taken to places just because no one knew what else to do with you, and then having to beg to be taken home from there every few minutes?
Maybe it’s the late childhood era that I’m supposed to reminisce about. You know, the one where you realise that you aren’t the centre of the universe because you aren’t cute and little anymore. Or the one where you find out that no one notices/cares about you. Only to eventually catch on to the fact that they are in fact paying attention to you. And now you must worry about what everyone thinks about you and being liked and accepted, all while you’re dealing with the dangerous split of maths between two deadlier streams: algebra and geometry. And lets not even get started about the introduction of team activities in your life. ‘Group project’ are two of the scariest words when used together, second only to ‘extended family’.
Another time period that is popularly adored is the time you spent during college. It probably was a wonderful time when you actually developed a personality and individual thoughts, met some of your closest friends and learnt about life. But then it gets over, and you realise it taught you nothing about real life. It inspired you to pick a major subject that you love, which happens to draw a salary less than the cost of your haircut (unless you went to one of those universities outside of which companies sit to nab you, and then try to drown you in money in return for your soul). Those friends were the ones supported you when your parents and teachers were disappointed in you. You thought this was for life, but it only lasted till they had babies of their own to be disappointed with. And then of course, was the time when you officially were an adult. But it would still be at least a couple of years till people started registering that (mainly because of the way you behave, but still).
The age group of twenties is usually the subject of most psychological studies, and is hated with equal fervour by all other age groups. The only expectation society has from you is to be the subject of disapproval. So as appealing as rewinding to a younger age sounds, I’m quite at peace with my current age. If I wanted to, I could go on an impulsive, life-changing trip because I’m allowed to. And I wouldn’t have to worry about carrying my medication or having back and knee problems, because that’s the beauty of your twenties. But I’m going to do none of this, obviously. I’m going to lie in bed and watch TV series. That’s what all the other kids are doing.
Mahesh Shinde is an engineer from Pune, India, who works for a manufacturing company. He’s also the President of the Men’s Rights Association (M.R.A), a registered NGO working solely to protect the honour and dignity of men. This is just one of the many organisations worldwide that have taken up this particular cause. On International Men’s Day, (November 19), Let’s take a look into what Men’s Rights actually mean to these organisations. Here’s an interview with Mr. Shinde about the organisation, its goals and philosophy.
Tell me a little about Men’s Rights Association. How did you get involved with the NGO? How often does the group meet?
Men’s Rights Association (MRA) is an organization whose sole purpose is to fight for the elusive Men’s Rights. MRA is very revolutionary in its concepts.It has been listed in the Top 100 social organizations of Maharashtra.
We believe that men should not be made to suffer so that women can enjoy. Society should not be divided on the basis of gender. Men often tend to carry a lot of baggage due to societal pressure. They are thrust into the role of ‘provider and protector’.
Nowadays, there’s a trend to denounce men for all the problems of humanity. Indian media continuously portrays all men as the perpetrators of crime, and women as the perpetual victim. Such biased propaganda will have serious repercussions, some of which has already been seen.
In India, the suicide rate of men is much higher than that of women. (According to a report by the World Health Organization, 258,075 people committed suicide in India in 2012, with 99,977 women and 158,098 men taking their own lives). But society is apathetic to the suicides of men, whereas women’s suicides have received a lot of attention
Just because a few (less than 1%) men have power doesn’t means that we are a male-dominated society. What happens to the remaining 99%? And it is an open truth that most of these so-called Alpha males are hen-pecked, and end up dominating other men. It is stupid to call this as male dominance.
Below is some of the important work done by MRA
Provide free legal help and counseling to men in distress.
Create awareness about anti-male laws and attitude
Remove negativity against the male gender, and spread positive thoughts
Work towards reducing suicides of male.
Sensitize law making bodies about men’s issues.
Reduce violence against men.
MRA works in all spheres of life.
What do you think are the main reasons that the high rate of suicides among men goes ignored?
The suicides are ignored because society treats Men as disposable. Since society doesn’t consider Men as human beings, their suicides aren’t a serious matter for society.
What are your major demands?
We are fighting for gender equality. Our main demands are:
That both genders should be treated equally
There should be no prejudice against men
Treat men as humans
What kind of activities/events do you organize?
Our activities are divided into two major parts. One is helping men in distress. The other is to spread awareness, through various actions like writing campaign letters to higher authorities, RTI (Right to Information) application, police station visits to generate awareness of the law process, various awareness campaign and protests, celebrating Father’s Day, Men’s Day, etc. For the past one year we have been doing collective projects with other NGOs as well.
India has been ranked as the worst country amongst the G20 nations to be a woman. How do men’s rights figure into the scenario?
This is a canard which is used to subjugate men, and impose more inhuman conditions on men. This is a totally baseless and extremely flawed ranking. We dare those who publish such nonsense to come and have an open debate with us. We will tear their arguments to shreds.
Do you receive flak any flak regarding MRA?
Since our society is so biased against men, we are the subject of several jokes. If anyone fights for women’s rights, they are glorified, while those fighting for men’s rights are ridiculed.
Do you believe in equal treatment of both the genders?
Absolutely… And this is NOT happening, which is our main grouse.
What are your feelings about reservation for women in the parliament and other spheres?
They talk about equal rights, and then ask for reservation. This is robbery. Those asking for reservation for women, imply that women are incompetent.
What according to you are the major issues faced by men in India?
There are several. Men are trained to work hard, and what do they get in return? A man’s entire life goes in doing things for others. He has to work to provide for his wife, children, sisters. Society expects men to work for others.
Sexual abuse laws in India are often framed with terminology like ‘outraging the modesty of a woman’. Does the MRA deal with male victims of abuse? How can these laws be framed to be more inclusive regarding men?
Of course we do. In fact, in the last two years, we have seen an increase in such male victims of abuse. One of our demand is to make these laws gender neutral. Currently, male victims aren’t even considered by law.
One of your demands is to eliminate false rape, dowry and other cases. Have you received many complaints about this? What are viable solutions to this problem? How does one differentiate between the legitimate cases and the fake ones?
Yes, we continuously receive complaints about false dowry, rape, etc. The viable solution to this problem is to modify these laws, to prevent misuse. In their present form, these laws are downright idiotic. No rational person can justify these wicked laws. If anyone reads the complaint itself, it is very clear, that it is false. And yet, complaints are being lodged because of biased laws, and the anti-male legal system.
What might be the reasons that women lodge false rape and dowry complaints?
A primary reason is extortion. The complaints are filed to extract money from men. Otherwise, it may be to harass the husband/concerned man, harass his parents, siblings and other dear ones, humiliate him and destroy his mental peace; to push him towards suicide, or harm himself.
Can you provide some examples of the kind of complaints you receive?
With regards to dowry harassment, wives harassing their husbands for not listening to her absurd demands is quite a common complaint. The husband’s life becomes a living nightmare. The wife has a whole array of laws which she can misuse against the husband. The woman simply has to go to any police station/court and lodge complaint against her husband, and she has the upper hand. Even in cases where no complaints are lodged, mere threatening is good enough to harrass the husband. Many men take the extreme step of committing suicide because of the daily torture they face from their unscrupulous wives.
With regards to sexual harassment at workplaces, some women employees harass their male colleagues. Some women at senior posts want the men working under them to be their play-things. If the man resists, he faces further harrassment. Even with colleagues, men have faced harassment. In another case, a junior female employee filed harassment complaint against her boss, because she was asked to be more professional by him.
Do you think the new Modi government will bring about any changes for men’s rights?
No, we do not think so. However, we would like to have a dialogue with the government. We have petitioned previous governments, which didn’t pay heed to our demands. When we show factual data to the officials, all they do is accept that our demands are legitimate, but they do not have the courage and the political will power to act on it.