Throwback Thursday: Ishq Vishk Promotes The Tired ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ Mentality. Payal Deserved Better
I remember watching Ishq Vishk as a kid with my sisters and cousins in a theatre. Of course, everyone loved Shahid Kapoor in it and Amrita Rao too was adored. It was a houseful show and people were just excited to watch this new cutie on the big screen. Me? I liked it too and not just then, but also a couple of years later. Somehow I felt Amrita Rao’s character Payal was relatable. She was like me – wanting to be away from the limelight, happy in simplicity, and seeing love as much more than frivolous romance. She was the good girl who got the guy in the end, so it made us happy. But now that I have grown up, I wonder if that guy deserved her at all. And the answer doesn’t seem very positive. In fact, as I grew up, I didn’t want to associate with that brand of “good girls” the society pressurises you to become.
Right at the start of the film, the misogynistic mood is established where women are blamed for “seducing” men, and all the responsibility is taken off their tharki shoulders. Rajiv’s father and his best friend Mambo creepily getting turned on by their bai, Kamla and this is apparently her fault. Of course, it has nothing to do with the fact that Mambo, Rajiv, and their other friends are just a bunch of horny guys who look at women as sex objects. Mambo’s “Kamla, phoolo ka gamla, kab karu main hamla?” isn’t funny; he is fantasising about sexually attacking her. They look at women as disposable accessories that would make them look cooler and satiate their sexual urges. And when they feel bored, they can trash them and get another one.
Meanwhile, Payal is a girl who believes in love and having a decent education. Unfortunately, she has a pathetic taste in men because she is in love with Rajiv, who sees her as not his type for not wearing short clothes. Yet, knowing she isn’t in it casually, he pretends to love her so he can take her to Alibag on their trip and get touchy with her. That is douchebaggery but what is even worse is that he tried to force himself on her. She kept asking him to stop but he grabbed her and kept forcing her to make out. That is him breaking all levels of decency and stooping to the level of a sexual offender.
And if you think he will be remorseful about such an act, he wasn’t! But what was really disappointing was that Payal ended up apologising for slapping him that night. No, that is called not respecting yourself and that’s when I decided I don’t want to relate to her. And as if his asshole-ry in Alibag wasn’t enough, he asked her to kiss him in front of the whole college to prove her love. All this just to help his hurt ego. Their relationship (if you can call it that) falls apart and Rajiv goes on to fulfil his hornies elsewhere.
Then comes Alisha Sahay, a new girl who immediately gets popular in college because she is pretty and wears short clothes. I mean, Payal was pretty too but was looked down upon because she wore modest clothes. Plus, what is this stereotypical representation of women – the mini-skirt girl is for flings and the fully covered one is for relationships? No. As expected, Rajiv works hard to become her boyfriend because status chahiye.
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All this while, he had no feelings for Payal but the moment he starts seeing her get close to Mambo, he begins to get insecure. It wasn’t loving but greed. He didn’t want to lose his toy. On the other hand, when Alisha couldn’t worship him, he realised that only Payal treated him like a king. I mean, he wanted casual, right? Why would Alisha be so much into him then? It wasn’t love that made him go running back to Payal. It was his need to feel so important that made him want her. And like an idiot, she even got back to him. This is the worse thing about Ishq Vishk.
Yes, people can grow up but assuming that it’s completely okay for a boy to make these “silly mistakes” promotes a ‘boys will be boys’ mentality. No, they cannot just be a bunch of raging hormones refusing to understand consent and seeing women as disposables. And when things don’t work their way, expect to be accepted again. This isn’t so trivial.