Throwback Thursday: Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon Dissed Pre-Marital Sex, Promoted Abstinence For Silly Reasons
Have you ever gone back and re-watched a movie you did years ago, to check if you see it differently? The thing is that as we grow and evolve, our perception changes too. And the same piece of work can mean completely different each time. When Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon released I was a teen and just a couple of years later, I had my first love story. Back then we didn’t have an ocean of content being dumped on us every now and then. It was a time of watching and re-watching movies, especially those that our TV channels loved. In pre-OTT days, our choices were widely influenced by the tastes of our cable wala and it seemed like he liked Hrithik Roshan as much as I did.
At 16 or 17, I could relate to Sanjana instantly. The way she was with her loved ones, her naivety, the lack of dating experience, and the way she falls in love. It was my criteria too, that the guy I like should get along well with my people. Like Sanjana, I loved the cheesiness and his utter dedication to me. I loved how he made me feel so special and left no room for doubt. I was the shy one and didn’t want to be sexually active just yet. We did have a lot of chemistry though, pretty much on par with any horny teenagers.
But here’s the thing, I was a teenager back then at the onset of my dating career. Today, when I watched it, all I could think of is why is Sanjana acting like a teenager? For that, let’s analyse Sooraj Barjatya’s female protagonist and how can someone qualify as one. You have to be beautiful, submissive, and not have a rebellious bone in your body. Your life should be dedicated to your family and shallow sanskaars that place more weightage on “log kya kahenge” than on their daughter’s mental health. But most importantly, you have to be a virgin who’s not even kissed before and shies away at the slightest sign of intimacy, And yes, be so docile that you never, absolutely, never lose your shit – no matter what you’re being subjected to. See Suman in Maine Pyaar Kiya, Nisha and Pooja in Hum Aapke Hain Koun, and Poonam in Vivah.
But Sooraj Barjatya did try to make Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon slightly more modern and I wouldn’t say it was completely off the mark. The film revolves around Sanjana (Kareena Kapoor) from Sundernagar, a place that has a very confusing geography. It looks like a hilly region in the north but also has a coastline. Anyway, let’s not get logical when it comes to these movies. Sanjana has graduated and now her parents must find her a groom. Prem Kumar (Abhishek Bachchan) is coming to Sundernagar for work and he is going to be her potential suitor. However, due to last-minute changes in plans and miscommunication, Prem Kishen (Hrithik Roshan) ends up staying with Sanjana and her family. Eventually, they fall in love but aunty dearest is like when we are getting Balenciaga then why go for Bata?
Meanwhile, this time, Sooraj Barjatya thought okay, let’s not show that women’s sexual desire is a myth. Instead, he showed random episodes of Prem and Sanjana passionately hugging and looking at each other with extreme tharak on their faces. It’s almost like they are having an orgasm in their head. Yet, he promotes that a good gal must abstain from actually giving in to her desires trope. So much that until Prem gets Sanjana’s name tattooed on his arm, she hadn’t even kissed him. That was followed by o Ajnabi, which rather looked like modern-day tutorial schools can possibly start showing in abstinence-based sex-education class. They are all-consumed in their desire and horniness and yet, they must do nothing beyond kissing. In fact, even the mere mention of the word “sex” has Sanjana all embarrassed and giggly like a teenager. I mean, don’t have it but can we stop hyping pre-marital sex as taboo?
To top it all, aunty (omg, I can almost hear Prem screaming “auntyyyyy” in his obnoxiously enthusiastic voice) asks Sanjana if they, you know, did something. And she makes a disgusted expression and breaks down because like how dare she think so lowly of her. I mean, pre-marital sex must be only what bad girls do, right? When she says no, then aunty dearest is like “toh phir problem kya hai?” in forgetting about him or feelings or anything of the sort. Listen, bro, it’s not like once you have sex with someone you are absolutely not allowed to breakup with them. What are these concepts? Yes, several women do think like that but I just wish Sanjana wasn’t one of them.
This film shows the shallowness of Indian matrimony. How does a guy select a woman? Both the Prems simply fell for Sanjana’s looks. And to make her even more marriage-material, she was told to be coy and be a domesticated woman. How does your fam zero in on a guy? He is rich, decent, and well, that’s about it. If you say no, they go like “toh phir problem kya hai?” Yashraj Mukhate, in case you need inspo for your next song. The emotional manipulation her mom and sister did, asking her to forget the poorer Prem for the richer Prem, is the harsh reality of several homes. The dad was amazing and respected her consent and feelings. That’s how parents must be! So I am glad they did give a moral of the story here – that parents gotta take a chill pill and let the daughter decide who she wants to marry.
ALSO READ:Throwback Thursday: Kya Kehna’s Take On Pre-Marital Sex And Out Of Wedlock Pregnancy Is Relevant Even Today
It was so simple – she could just say ‘no bro, I don’t see you that way.’ But miss docile went through the entire engagement for what joy? Only to see Prem, her lover, and break down. I feel this is the best way though to like end things. Do you see what Geet did in Jab We Met? Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon was a step towards showing some progress but it also took two steps back in misogyny.