Throwback Thursday: Dabangg’s Women Were There Just To Make The Men Look Good. Consent Is Not Even Considered
Sometimes, you watch a movie that isn’t great but it doesn’t make you want to sit with a bucket in case you end up puking from all that dizziness. Today Dabangg – the very first one and which should have been the last – completed 10 years. And my editor asked me to watch it and review it. I had lived my life for a decade without watching this movie and I really could have survived a few more without it. But I guess someone had to take one for the team. After having watched it, let me tell you, it is exactly how I expected it to be but less funny. Since it was such a big hit and all that, I thought there would at least be comedy but Dabangg just vacillates between being cringe-y and vapid to disturbing.
Allow me to give a mandatory description of the film, even though I bet everyone knows – whether they wanted to or not. Dabangg revolves around the heroic stints of a jaanbaaz and clever cop, Chulbul Pandey (Salman Khan), who is essentially good but knows his way around things. He used to be the Cindrella of the house as a child – sweeping and being treated like a domestic help by his stepfather (Vinod Khanna). Makhi (Arbaaz Khan), is his pest-like stepbrother who is as useful as a pet rock.
While Chulbul Pandey is out there fighting perps but not catching them for some reason, Rajjo (Sonakshi Sinha) is introduced in the film because as an audience we cannot do a film without a love story. But here’s the thing. Rajjo is actually in the film, only to make Chulbul Pandey look even more macho. It’s almost like his way of proving what an alpha male he is because while men around have to woo a girl, he can just order one.
In a chase sequence, Pandey ji stumbles upon a pretty girl, in her private space and he like a creep asks her if her father has found her a match. He decides he wants to marry her because women are like shirts – you find one that’s beautiful, buy it. It’s not like a woman has layers to her personality. What is even compatibility when looking for a wife? He begins stalking her and making her uncomfortable – and in a way, pays her to talk to him. If that isn’t cringey enough, he then goes on to force her to accept money and when she refuses, he says take it with love or he will slap her. That’s when she says “Thappad se darr nahi lagta, saahab. Pyaar se lagta hai.” Say what? Are we normalising violence against women? Well, I am assuming that Pandey ji didn’t mean it but how do you explain that to the several men in our country who do? How do we tell them that when they go home and hit their wives for not obeying them, it isn’t a heroic thing to do?
There are so many moments where Chulbul Pandey seems completely oblivious to Rajjo’s discomfort and goes around treating her like he owns her. What is even worse is that Rajjo actually likes him. This is the man who wishes death upon her father when she says she won’t marry till he is alive. This is the man because of whom, her father took his life and this is also the same guy who walked in when she was mourning his death and told everyone to fuck off. He didn’t give a shit about her loss and asked her to just pack her bags and leave with him, so they can marry. Is it just about making that trophy yours?
On the other hand, his bro Makhi, is literally so obnoxious that if disgust could generate electricity, he could light up an entire town. Yet, he has a girlfriend, who doesn’t seem like a bad person. How do these guys get women? This Makhi goes on to tell his girlfriend’s father that if he doesn’t agree, he will just abduct her. Sure, encourage this also now. Such a jaanbaaz thing to do. I know in this case it would possibly be consensual but guys who do this do not worry about all that. All they assume is that it is a brave thing to do and the woman will fall in love with their swag. His father too is one of them, demanding dowry and feeling entitled to it. It is the feeling of entitlement and treating women like commodities that needs to be discouraged. How did their mother (Dimple Kapadia)– who seemed like such a genuine woman – marry this man? Well, she was a single mother and it was difficult back then and in a misogynistic society. I understand. But what about these other women? Grow some standards! Chulbul even dances with a showgirl on his honeymoon and acts like it’s cool. Would he be okay if his wife danced with a guy like that?
While they are raging around in their penis pride, their mother dies and it literally did nothing. Makhi went on to arrange his wedding, Chulbul got himself a wife and got busy romancing. Their father was just happy with the dahej he got. I have seen people grieve more about the loss of their phone. But this movie isn’t about women or about men truly respecting women.
ALSO READ: Throwback Thursday: Kya Kehna’s Take On Pre-Marital Sex And Out Of Wedlock Pregnancy Is Relevant Even Today
Speaking of respect, what the hell is even Munni badnaam hui? Yeah, it has been a hit number and all that but seriously? Years later they thought Munna badnaam hua would give them some redemption but misogyny doesn’t rectify itself unless the intent isn’t a PR stunt.