Throwback Thursday: 90s Bollywood Songs Were All About Ignoring Consent And Convincing Her To Say Yes
I am a 90s child so all those retro songs were made before I was born even. But I do remember being introduced to them by my parents and of course, we know how they take joy in criticising the songs made later. Have you ever heard a song that can induce a catharsis like Lag Jaa Gale can? Honestly, even if you have no breakup on the horizon, you might end up feeling all those fuzzy emotions. Abhi Na Jao Chhod Kar, Baahon Mein Chale Aao, Aaj Jaane Ki Zidd Na Karo – such gems! Maybe our parents love these songs so much because it’s about love in its purest form. Somehow 90s Bollywood songs started laying the foundation of a new, twisted kind of romance if you can even call it that. A plethora of songs were infused into our playlist that would promote the infamous chase and romanticize violation of consent. In fact, consent was a mere suggestion and it was almost always accepted that the girl was putting up a front and would easily be subdued into changing her decision.
There have been so many songs and it seems like they didn’t even try to do something new. The “hero” will be chasing a woman with his gang of random people until she is harassed enough to give in. What do you mean she is clearly repelled by you? These songs set the tone that a woman’s ‘no’ means ‘convince me’. And apparently, that is the real test of how much a guy is into you. Like does he harass you? Grope you in public while a bunch of his chelas watches? Violate your boundaries and autonomy till you just give up? If he doesn’t do these things, does he even like you? Bollywood’s sense of romance got twisted in the 90s and has remained so. A lot of the time, entire songs were dedicated to bringing down a woman who has a sense of self which was largely seen as entitlement. Entire freaking songs about how we want to shatter her ego and put her in her place. How is this okay?
Khambe Jaisi Khadi Hai is a song by music legend Udit Narayan featuring Madhuri Dixit Nene and Aamir Khan in the movie Dil. So many credible names are associated with a song that completely disses a woman just for her lack of interest in fanning the protagonist’s ego. “Dekho zara dekho khudko samajhti hai kya…” sings Aamir to a Madhuri, just walking around doing her own thing because somehow that’s very offensive? While she refuses to pay any attention to his idiotic behavior, he goes on to sing how he’d love to break her ego. “Todenge iska ghuroor hum,” the song goes on in a more disturbing manner. Of course, meanwhile, they think it’s okay to touch a woman without her consent constantly invading her personal space. Add to that that there are a posse of men egging his disgusting behaviour on so it seems like a bloody circus as men constantly surround her. Aamir is the only character that can touch her, but she’s surrounded by all these lecherous men who have vowed (along with Aamir) to show her her place.
I can’t deny that I grooved to this song as a child naïve enough to not know what this attitude can do to people. Cut to the real world, men are not being able to digest a woman’s rejection and will go to any extent to shatter her so-called ego – be it physical or mental harassment. Not all, but there were several 90s Bollywood songs that encouraged this behaviour.
This song immediately reminds me of Khudko Kya Samajhti hai starring Akshay Kumar and Ayesha Jhulka from the movie Khiladi. The lyrics are about how the men decide “aao chakha de mazzaa” to a new girl in college for not being submissive. They are curious about why she doesn’t give a fuck about them and let the men have their way. Wow. Again, the theme of trying to corner and harass a woman with an entire gang is common and so is the manhandling.
Haseena Maan Jaayegi’s title track is all about threatening a girl with a knife while getting her to say yes. They will argue it’s all funny but it won’t be funny to a woman sexually assaulted at knife-point. It puts it out there in very clear words that if a girl says no, pester her enough and she will say yes. In another song in the same movie, they go on to tell her that she should just stop with all the beating around the bush and just say ‘I love you’. Erm. Why should she say that if she isn’t feeling it? The actress’ face and expressions in these songs clearly say that she isn’t interested and yet the men hang around dangerously close and weirdly creepy. Why didn’t anyone else see it for that?
Today, we have men living among us who just cannot handle rejection. And it doesn’t have to be all criminal. Even those who don’t intend to commit a crime will pester us, manipulate us, or bitch about us if we say no. Just recently, a guy who claimed to like me made me sound like a total bitch just because I didn’t give in to his advances and even after I blocked him, he decided to send me emails. When I asked him to fuck off, he said I should volunteer to hear him shred my self-esteem to pieces while he enjoyed preserving his ego hurt after being rejected. I don’t do that to people. I don’t feel entitled enough to demand the man to reciprocate my feelings. That’s not loving, that’s harassment.
Akeli Na Bazar Jaya Karo shows Sonali Bendre being groped, harassed, and assaulted purely for existing. Such songs encourage male entitlement and show consent as a non-existing concept. Through years of social conditioning, men believe that if they chase a girl hard enough, the girl ought to give in or she deserves punishment. At some point, my first ex’s best friend sent me an email detailing how horrible I am for not taking him back after he fucked up.
No is not negotiable and 90s Bollywood songs need to get it straight. It’s a shame we still have movies and songs being made that promote this mindset. Kabir Singh and Tere Naam did really well and it proves that the masses still see persistence and pestering as a sign of true love. Yikes. Thank God 90s Bollywood songs had some good ones too or our childhood would be shitty!