Right from Amitabh Bachchan chasing Kimi Katkar for a kiss in Jumma Chumma (Hum, 1991) to Dhanush not giving up on Sonam Kapoor in Raanjhanaa (2013) and Shahid Kapoor hounding Sonakshi Sinha in R Rajkumar (2013), Bollywood has continued to blur the line between wooing and stalking.
And now, the idea that “ladki ki naa mein bhi haan hai” has been used by a 32-year-old Indian man in Hobart, Australia, to escape conviction in a harassment case. Sandesh Baliga, who was accused of stalking two women, escaped a jail term by arguing that his texts, messages and personal advances were a result of being “wrongly influenced” by Bollywood movies.
But can such fictional portrayals in films be blamed for real-life harassment? Ad guru Prahlad Kakkar does not agree. “I think youngsters nowadays are sensible enough to understand the difference between fiction and reality. But then, there are always some idiots who wouldn’t want to woo a girl through decent courtship, as it takes a lot of time. So, they wrongly start citing Hindi films as an excuse,” he says.
Filmmaker Anand L Rai, who helmed Raanjhanaa, says his movie didn’t justify stalking, as “it showed the hero trying to persuade his childhood love with genuine emotions.” But he agrees that directors need to exercise some caution. “There are some boys who do get influenced by Bollywood. But they shouldn’t take it seriously, as it’s just a part of storytelling. It is also important for writers and directors to apply self-censorship when depicting one-sided love,” he says.
Film trade expert Atul Mohan says blaming Bollywood for such incidents is foolish. “If a guy knows that he can’t bash up 15-20 goons on his own like they show in the movies, how can he believe that if he continuously stalks a girl, she will eventually give in?” he says. Kakkar puts forth the West’s view: “I think the judge let him (Baliga) off because he may have held a low opinion of Bollywood movies and Asians in general, and would have thought that this actually happens in India!”