Throwback Thursday: 90s Bollywood Song Lal Dupatte Wali Romanticises Sexual Harassment And It’s Sick
I can’t tell from first-hand experience because I was a child in the 90s, but the dating pool at the time probably sucked and I imagine was quite patriarchal in nature. I remember how my parents had suddenly become over-protective of my sister when she started going to the college. She even told me incidents when she was persistently by pursued by guys who liked her. Sure, that’s flattering until he starts violating your personal space. Soon he begins to think following the girl you like is a romantic thing to do except you’re petrified or really harrowed.
Where did this skewed sense of what is romantic come from? Like in all spheres of life, misogynistic men objectified women in this so called “love” too. So I guess it was right there, like the roaches that infest your kitchen until you take things in your own hand and get pest-control done – which thankfully happened over the years. So when I revisit the movies and songs of the 90s, I am left feeling enraged. Why? Because these are the very songs that I liked growing up or at least laughed about. In this section where I take a look at them again, I found them offensive and annoying AF. One such song I stumbled upon is Lal dupatte wali from the movie Aankhen (1993).
The lyrics are shit but even if you pay a little attention to at least the chorus you will realise that Govinda and Chunky Panday are basically hitting on two unknown girls (Ritu Shivpuri and Rageshwari). They sing “O lal dupatte wali tera naam to bata, O kaale kurte wali tera naam to bata, Naam to bata, tera naam to bata, Tera naam to bata ho”. Basically insisting they reveal their names to them. So basically, any guy can random walk up to you and start following you around just because he found you pretty. How safe does that leave us feeling?
Of course, words weren’t the only damaging aspect of the song. Lal dupatte wali starts with two men being obnoxious and annoying AF, and just a few seconds into the song, you witness the first act of sexual harassment. Govinda and Chunky Panday sandwich the women and start grinding with them, with disgustingly sexual expressions on their faces. They are so close that it seems like their pressing their penises against their buttocks while at it, except only their heads are shown (as if that brings any sanity to the song!)
By this point, you’ll want to press molestation charges against them. Then they proceed to do something so hideous that I can’t even figure the intent behind it. Both the guys pull the women’s hands and places them between their legs, while thrusting their pelvis close to the women’s face. What would you call men who did that in real? Heroes or sexual offenders? I think the answer is pretty obvious.
Scattered through the song are instances of groping, inappropriate touching and manhandling, obviously without consent. Somewhere between being forcefully carried and hugged, the men start dancing with them and decide to get half naked suggestively. The women freak out and run away and somehow scaring women seems to be a turn on for them. Or at least amusing! How?
ALSO READ: Throwback Thursday: We Revisited Akeli Na Bazar Jaya Karo And It’s A Song About Harassment And Non-Consensual Touching
The final straw on the camel’s back is how they decided to end the song. Govinda and Chunky Panday grab their respective crushes and forcefully place their heads on the women’s breast, squishing them. What the fuck even? With that, ended the harassment my eyes experienced while watching this video. So I scrolled down to the comments, and there I found my silver lining. A majority of people commented calling out the hideousness in this video and it made me happy because it proves things have changed for good. “In our childhood this was a superhit song but this is complete harassment,” a user wrote. “The filming of this song is so inappropriate for the times we live in. It was probably back then. This is what is called eve teasing,” another user commented.