Roadside romeos

Eve-teasing is a social evil: this we all agree upon. Be it your friend, girlfriend, cousin or your sister, if you hear that someone decided to wolf-whistle when they went to a bus-stop or if someone sang songs and followed them from their college to someplace else, you want to go and smack them -- at least your blood begins to boil at the very thought of this happening. The question, though, is that how and why do we see this? What makes a young man think that by wolf-whistling of constantly harrassing/following a girl, he can woo her over? Why do unemployed idiots smoking cigarettes at a bus-stop think that staring at a girl will finally make her smile and appear smitten by his charms?

I think a big part of the blame should go to Hindi movies, and especially those which you consider "classic" just because they happened to be made during the '70s or '80s. In almost every one of these, the hero constantly shows up at all places and keeps following the girl around, usually singing songs and doing weird dances. Privacy was never an issue. Girl going in a reserved compartment on a train? No problem... show up beside her on the next berth! Girl spending time with her friends and bicycling around? Oh... the perfect time to show up in a convertible car and keep honking, blocking the path and/or singing (Pukarta chala hoon mai). If the girl refuses to be interested in you, you can always fake suicide (Padosan) and she will give in. You can also make up situations with your friends' help where the girl and you must pretend to be married or else tribals will eat you up (some Sanjeev Kumar movie). The point is, at the end of each of these situations, the girl gives in and falls deeply in love with you. The perfect plot, neh?

Characters from these movie-reels become role models for a lot of real-life situations. For example, the DDLJ movie started the trend of trying to take the bride away only if your family permits. A lot of situations and characters are depicted in the movies. One young man fights tons of villians to rescue his love. Being unemployed or being the goon in a locality is the cool thing to be. You become a hitman, torture construction contractors and do some minister's bidding to kill if necessary -- and you're the cool man, you are THE man. Very soon, the prettiest new girl in the locality will become your girlfriend.

People soon learn that some things from the movies are not doable. For example in a train if you are Amitabh Bachchan then you can beat up 15 goons to rescue one girl. In reality, if you try that, you will be definitely sliced to pieces. Hence that part is not implementable. What is implementable, though, is following girls around, wolf-whisting, paying bribes, maybe a few shoot-outs? And since stalking is an art almost perfected by all the lead characters in these movies, you can start with the same: become her shadow and follow her around, whether she likes it or not.

You see, that is my problem with these movies, and the fact that you profess to like them. While DDLJ was a very funny movie, I hated the fact that some loser whose father is proud that he has failed an exam gets a girl. While Company had nice songs and all, you love the fact that Vivek Oberoi is your cool man who kills and establishes an empire. Chhota Shakeel is a killer -- he caused the Mumbai Stock Exchange blasts; he murdered, raped and ruined countless women and their families, and yet you flock to see a movie depicting his life in the theaters. Consider the movie "Roadside Romeo" coming out soon. I am sure we will all have a laugh riot when the hero at the bus stop (yeah whatever the anime character is) outwits the girl and makes her miss a bus or two, no matter what was important in her life. Perhaps not watching this movie is not the answer (or rather, an impractical answer), but becoming aware of what you're being fed on the movie is. Tell whoever you went to the movie with, write to an editor of a newspaper or just write on your blog that you don't endorse the concept. And the next time a movie comes out depicting a real-life gangster's life, consider not seeing it at the theater, not in the first two weeks. To quote, "When things go bad, those who have the power to do something about it also have the responsibility to do something about it".


  1. I am not sure if saying "they did it in the movies, thats why I do it" is the reason. We'd have to probably boycott a lot of stuff that way...why watch tom and jerry and the road runner, you don't see people aping the violence there.

    So to me, blaming media/movies is a very very simple and shallow answer - a cop out. The truth is that the sadakchhap mawalis dont eve tease (and what you have mentioned is the mildest form of eve teasing) to patao a girl. I think most of the times it's done coz they know they can and they know their victim will take it - it's another form of bullying if you may. Aur kahin nahi chalti to kya, sadak chalti ladki pe they can impose their manhood. At best, the movies just give them new ideas on how to do it.

    Sky :)

    P.S. Lao mera sona lao!

  2. I agree with anonymous here. Movies might have some influence on what people think is cool but roadside romeos are different case. They don't do what they do to "patao" a girl. That's the last thing on their mind. In their opinion, if a girl dares to walk out alone and/or wants to be independent, she deserves to be harassed. In other words, she is asking for it. just like Sheila Dixit pointed out after Soumya murder case.

    And it's just not them. It's everywhere. Workplace, colleges, universities, IITs...especially if you dare to choose a male-dominated field. You are certainly asking for it.

    Movies might have had a hand in making that image of "Bhartiya Nari" in our society. But getting a girl by harassing her is a bit of stretch. Even those morons know better than that.

  3. Interesting... but its more likely that people go to watch films to escape reality. Its fun to watch lives that our not quite like our own. I guess its every1's dream to live like SRK with no real worldly worries or be the talk of the town (like Vivek Oberoi) in Company (morality can take a 2 hr back seat!).

    And give people credit! For the number of times the White House is blown up... virii release.. terrorist attacks; things haven't gone THAT BAD! You don't need to always show your endorsement and opposition to movies on stuff like this. :)

  4. While you are right about the bad examples being highlighted and followed blindly, it is also true that not all the movies featuring the life sketches of real-life gangsters are full of such crap. Movies professing to give out the message of patriotism can sometimes have such stuff that can also do such damage. When such an element is woven in the very fabric of the movie, how will you categorise it?

  5. It goes, "When things go wrong, those who have the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action." But yes, point taken, and thoroughly agreed upon. It may be done for a lot of reasons - a mistaken sense of wooing, trying to bully, drunk, nowhere to go so miss sleepyeyes will take pity on him; but the cue, invariably, is taken from movies.
    Now, these movies may portray things in a different light, guys singing away cycling beside the bus in which their mehbooba is travelling is after all a sophisticated act of sophisticated actors; this, when implemented by sadakchhap people, unemployed, rich, drunk or no, becomes exactly that: sadakchhap. And that is something that the person doing the eve-teasing does not realise. When he does it, he's got that flowery image of himself sitting on the cycle in place of Shashi Kapoor in mind.
    Of course, there may be and probably are many other contributing factors, but movies, as a cause of this, cannot be ruled out.

  6. Sky, yeah it seems I lack the first-hand experience. But I disagree that this is a cop-out. I am sure the movies contribute their non-trivial bit in propagating this act.

    Richa, hmm.. just for the record, I don't condone any of what they do in any way, and this post does not try to justify it. I simply want to get to the root(s) of the problem. And about the "asking for it" bit, yeah... it is depressing indeed.

    Kunal, yes we go to the movies to leave our brains behind for some time. But the point about the White House blowing up in the movies does not give people ideas (or so I believe). But innovative ways of proposing to a girl (or simple pranks on colleagues) do. Hence I believe movies do contribute to the roadside romeo phenomenon.

    Mampi, yes, tough question. But one can at least try to discern the milk from the water.

    Arunava, yeah I forgot the exact quote. And thank you for supporting the statements.. it seems great men think alike :)

  7. I have always felt this way myself. Although movie makers claim they are making pure entertainers, those who watch do get influenced, and if the movies (like advertisements) talked sense, we will be forced to think.
    But I also feel eve teasing also has a lot to do with boys believing they can not be questioned for this behaviour. They see their own parents blaming the girl for being teased or worse, she might be taken out of school/college to 'keep her safe', she will be blamed for the way she was dressed, nobody will blame the harasser, and there is very little chance of the boys actually being punished.

  8. sigh, unfortunately i was hounded all my college life by this. somehow.. SOMEHOW, the nitwits thought that they if they sang me a cracked tune or two i would swoon for them and jump on their bicycle and run away with them.

  9. there anyone foolish enough to do a BigB in real life? More fool they is all I can say.

    Plus, all eve teasers need is a slap. No one ever messes with me coz I once slapped one fella who whisted at me.
    That's girl power for you!
    P.S: My dad is known here to help out girls from roadside romeos and I take after him.

  10. I totally disagree with Richa. What the hell do you mean by "asking for it"???
    So, girls are supposed to be dependant all their lives??

  11. was life at UTexas Austin?
    I'm applying there for an undergrad degree.

  12. but thats only half the story... the trouble is most guys ASSUME the girl actually ENJOYS the attention. the guy HAS to be a hero to woo the girl... thats a lot of pressure in an otherwise useless mass of flesh and pump with minimal if any thinking material...

  13. Umm,Sudipta,sorry to bother you once again, but where did you do your bachelors?
    Just curious..

  14. Indian Home Maker, yes, and a very important point raised there.

    Grafxgurl, not to patronize your prospective suitors (at that time), but I cannot drive the image of grafxgurl jumping on a bicycle and eloping with some roadside romeo out of my head :D

    Anon 1, whoa... I'm proud of you! Yes, vunn tight slap and everything seems to fall into perspective.

    Anon 2, I think Richa was actually speaking out against the "asking for it" part. You definitely need to get your parser right.

    Mono, life was good. Send me an email and I can tell you more details of my profile.

    Markiv, exactly my point! And that these classic movies add to the ease with which one ASSUME-s the harass <=> wooing part.

  15. oh and don't forget, when the hero does the teasing, it is love, the villain, is just teasing..
    And remember the lies etc etc that the Govinda movies had- bigamy, no problem

  16. Alankrita, yeah... very important lesson: Wo kare to raas leela, hum kare to character dheela. Welcome to the blog, anyway... will visit yours soon. :)

  17. good post. addresses a very important issue. I do not have an opinion. Growing up, I found it hard to believe how people actually enjoyed someone else's very visible discomfort. I suppose things will change when more voices started becoming heard :).

  18. I think it has to do with bad family values. If that is good then even bad hindi movies wont have effect

  19. Saurabh, thanks :) and welcome onboard, of course! Yes, hopefully more sane voices will reduce insanity.

    Dips, true, I agree! But you cannot rule out the influence of the movies. Sometimes it is the rebellion against family values that drives one towards emulating these characters from the movies.

    Welcome to the blog, by the way :)


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