How Bollywood Normalised Rape Culture | BuzzFeed India


That’s… not what sex looks like, right? Well, for a long time, Bollywood has shied away from showing any real, candid representations of sex. Instead, it has a long history of passing off violence, assault, and rape as “romantic entertainment.” So how does that shape our understanding of sex,
or rape, or even consent? Sex is still taboo across most of Indian society,
even if it wasn’t always this way. Early Indian culture was actually pretty sexually progressive. But then colonisation happened. Mixed with religion and nationalism, sex slowly became something dishonourable or wrong. You couldn’t talk about it in public, so you couldn’t talk about it on the big screen either. And the aggressive censor board made sure of that. It was impossible for Bollywood movies to show any explicit nudity, or sex scenes, or even a kissing scene. But sex sells, and the industry knew that. So Bollywood filmmakers got creative with it. They began to allude to sex without showing anything explicitly, using visual metaphors or subtle song lyrics. Item numbers actually became a thing as early as the 1930s. Before they were this hugely popular trend appearing in almost every movie, they were actually a form of escapist cinema for presumably mostly male audiences. Movies were the only openly available source for anything sexual. There was no Internet or porn back then. But in the ’80s, the Indian film industry experienced a decline because the market for home videos was booming. Filmmakers had to find a way to revive it, and just alluding to sex wasn’t going to cut it. So according to film scholar Kush Varia, the industry started serving these male audiences with scenes and plotlines meant to satisfy their “perverse pleasures.” Sex couldn’t technically be shown as a positive thing – because, honour – so it had to be shown in a negative context. And one really easy way to show sex as bad was through rape or sexual assault, which is probably why such scenes were so popular in movies from the ’70s to the ’90s. Historial S.M.M. Ausaja agreed. He said rape scenes were used more for their item value than a necessity of the script. So, unsurprisingly, they were pretty formulaic. Evil villain rapes helpless damsel who is saved
by the self-righteous hero. The honour of the family has been protected! Who cares about the woman, right? Take this scene in Mulzim for instance. The moment Ranjeet starts to rape the woman, the hero dramatically jumps in to save her. What follows is a long fight sequence between the two actors, and the rape is forgotten entirely. The woman is considered the man’s property, so her rape is really a question of his honour, and not much else. Like in Bhagyawaan, which really exemplifies how insignificant the woman and her experience are. Marry her off to the rapist! Problem solved! Not only were these tropes constantly depicted onscreen, but actors like Shakti Kapoor and Ranjeet became
famous for their roles as rapists – having appeared in countless rape scenes throughout their careers. They were hailed as “cool” and “macho” and idolized by their fans, as is the case with most celebrities in India,
according to filmmaker Farrukh Dhondy. And if the audience revered the man glorifying rape onscreen, that’s a pretty big problem. In some cases, rape scenes were entirely about the audience getting pleasure from the domination of women, especially if the actress was also famous. Like in Zakhmi Aurat, which had a really disturbing rape scene with Dimple that lasted over 7 minutes. The more she resisted, the more effort he had
to put in to overpower her. And the greater was his prize. And honestly, also the greater his appeal as an actor. More violence, even if it was exaggerated, tended to make the rape scene more “exciting.” Given the influence that Bollywood has, that’s a dangerous precedent to be setting. Other times, the woman being raped was shown as teasing the man, showing the scene in a very casual, almost comedic light. Like in this scene from Tohfa. Or this song, where Madhuri Dixit is basically describing how she was raped in a field… But it’s fine because she was singing and dancing..? This study actually shows that almost 70% of sexual violence in movies in the late ’90s was shown as “fun,” which showed a very flawed idea of consent. After the 90s, these kinds of rape scenes gradually went away from mainstream Bollywood because other mediums became popular. But they were replaced by subtler forms of rape culture, including careless jokes about rape, and a lot of the same ambiguity around consent. So it makes sense that so many Indians think stalking and eve-teasing is completely acceptable, both in movies and in real life. In fact, this new man-doesn’t-take-no-for-an-answer became the next big Bollywood formula. And it continues to normalize sexist behaviour every day. While historian S.M.M. Ausaja said that Samir Parikh, the director of Mental Health and
Behavioural Sciences at Fortis said This is not a new debate. Let’s take the example of Grand Masti. When it released, it got a lot of criticism for its problematic and sexist tropes. But it was still a huge hit. Actor Vivek Oberoi said: That’s a convenient way to avoid taking responsibilty. Because the truth is that is a big issue. The National Crime Records Bureau reported that four women are raped every hour in India. That is a staggering number. And while many of the movies we’ve discussed do have loose, overarching morals where the rapists
are supposed to be bad, they are quite forgiving of men who violate, stalk, and harrass women. Journalist and author Deepanjana Pal said it perfectly: After the internationally shocking Nirbhaya rape case of 2012, some movies, like Maatr, Pink, and Mom, did do it right. Rape was not trivialized and sexual violence
was treated sensitively. But these films never became nearly as successful as the ones that capitalized on sexist tropes. Not to mention that many of the rape scenes we’ve discussed still have thousands, if not millions, of views on YouTube as of October 2019. Offscreen, actors outed for sexual harrassment
and assault are still revered. Many of the problematic things they’ve said are simply shrugged off as meaningless. Most bear no consequences for their real-life actions because of the respect they gain onscreen. Even if these facts don’t automatically
and directly impact behaviour, they do shape the culture that we live in. They lead to the persistent misogyny in the industry and beyond. Even in 2019, when these issues and movements like #MeToo are more widely talked about than ever before, Pop culture and the Bollywood industry
still have a very long way to go.

100 Comments

  1. AKASH SHARMA said:

    "NAMAK ISHQ KA" is not about oral sex at all, don't criticize the lyrics written in a language that you don't know shit about

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  2. Love Quotes said:

    Yeh to abhi bhi ho raha hain. Logon ko samajh nahi ata k ek movie kitne logon ko influence karta hain. Kabir Singh ko agar youth cool samajh k har koi waisa hi act karne lage jo ki already ho raha hain.

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  3. Abilash Nair said:

    This video is truly worth sharing…….kudos to the team for there research and outreach

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  4. Kumar V said:

    Bollywood is controlled by the likes of D-Gang (and Haji Mastan in past) who have an agenda to destroy the Hindu Culture in India. 95% of the moves are made with that in mind — to destroy the culture of India. I stopped watching these stupid Indian moves many many years ago and consider most of the these bollywood stars for what they are — corrupt unpolluted TRASH.

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  5. sumanth varada said:

    Well said mam

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  6. jitin tilak said:

    Finally someone talked about I had the slightest of intuition that Bollywood was somehow promoting rape culture in many of their crappy romantic movies but finally the cat is out of the box,this topic should not fade out .I really hope this video gets the maximum views coz this is the type of change in mentality we need in India.

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  7. Aniruddha Dalui said:

    Sex is so bad, that you cannot do this video in hindi !

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  8. Rahima Syed said:

    Thankyou so much for this

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  9. jui shah said:

    Bollywood is full of hypocrites who are only concerned with money & fame except 10 % may be. In the name of entertainment they have served anything , forgetting about it's mass impact on the society.. they are public figures n they have to take responsibilities of what they are doing..

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  10. Ana K said:

    Even if for a milli second we believe that movies are not the problem , they havent given a solution either . If you believe movies dont shape culture what are the odds that after 'Gully Boy' everyone wants to be a rapper wearing 'Apna time ayega' T shirts and after 'Zindagi Na Milegi dobara' europe trip increased by approximately 30%. So what i am saying is that if it can affect young minds in a positive way its a million times easier to influence them in a negative way…..SO TO ALL THESE ACTORS WHO DO SHIT MOVIES AND PLAY HORRIBLE CHARACTERS AND THEN LEAVE BY SAYING THAT IT WASN'T MEANT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY…YOU ARE A DISGRACE AND ALL YOUR WORK IS MEANINGLESS IF YOUR MOVIE SOMEWHERE INSPIRED A KID TO RAPE TEASE AND FIND IT MANLY TO CLAIM WOMEN AS THEIR PROPERTY

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  11. green boi said:

    Chup ho ja feminist

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  12. Aditya Gehlot said:

    Nice manipulation

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  13. Chirag Patel said:

    Lol….how does "nationalism – religion" get into this video.
    I know buzzfeed gets orgasms by talking about such things but atleast have it make some sense fellows😆

    Pseudo secularism is making zombies out of people, literally😝

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  14. Mimi Shaw said:

    👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  15. zberry582 said:

    Brilliant!

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  16. Ishwari sardar said:

    I feel so ashamed…😔😔

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  17. Fatima said:

    South Asian men are perverted and disgusting. I know because I’m a South Asian woman. Out of all the men in the world, they have put me in the most uncomfortable situations.

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  18. Neelam Singh said:

    Today as a women we talk about such things then we're called "typical feminist". India as a country still have alot to catch up with other countries out there. Grow up india it's high time now

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  19. Priya Gupta said:

    I used to watch Bollywood movies because my family was basically into it so I couldn't avoid it I really couldn't process how easily some scenes would be laughed off and were funny not creepy(just as some scenes from dabang, grand masti) etc. I have stopped watching Bollywood movies and it's more than three years…I hope Indian cinema industry would be more careful while executing such scenes in movies cuz people in India do take movies seriously (to some extent… not trying to be offensive)..
    Thank you BuzzFeed India..such video needs to be made for mass realization ..

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  20. Rajesh Nayak said:

    1:14 wtf I did not know that

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  21. karishma rawool said:

    Buzzfeedindia is doing a really good job

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  22. Sudhanshu Mital said:

    What a well researched video! I suggest having Hindi translations or subtitles and if possible (given your multi-cultural crew ;)) translations or subtitles in other regional languages as well, so that a message as important and relevant as this reaches a wider audience. Only 7-8% of our country's population can speak and understand English fluently, and most of those included in these figures are people who are already aware of such issues; albeit they're probably not doing much about it. 🙁 But we have people like y'all! Good job Buzzfeed.

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  23. Stuti Prakashkumar said:

    We need content creators to be more aware and acknowledge the impact they're having in shaping a culture….

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  24. Elsy Tomy said:

    Quite glad Kerala doesn’t do this as much anymore.

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  25. Shambhavi Vashistha said:

    You go woman!!!!! I love you for saying what has been on every woman's brain since forever

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  26. Onam Hemi said:

    Videos like this makes us realize things, makes us understand how wrong this things are. If not all of us it does definitely for me

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  27. anushka977 said:

    Although we have movies like mom and pink they never seem to do as well 😠

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  28. Vishal Arora said:

    Nice video but I think this topic is more complicated then it was presented. We should not forget everything contributes to this problem from cinema, poverty, illiteracy, history. We were colonized by two of the most conservative religions and that still influences our society. And objectifying women is not just an Indian thing. Every culture has it in some form or another. I am pretty sure all the people who are saying that “it is all Indian men but not me” have seen American pie and do I even have to mention the porn industry. And this attitude is not going to help anybody if we want to change our society then we have to take everybody together and not just play the blame game.

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  29. Mala L said:

    Omg. I’ve always thought about this. Movies influences a lot of people in India.. i also noticed how few Indians don’t know how love works, they think they love a girl one side, and when she rejects his proposal it’s “love failure”. Movies teach them this shit.

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  30. Sharanya Mukherjee said:

    Please do a video on how bigg boss, a show on national television, is so sexist and regressive where there is always patriarchal discussions in the everyday episodes. Women are shown weak and mysogyny is everywhere.

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  31. Cat Nik said:

    THE BEST WOKE VIDEO IVE EVER SEEN. MORE PEOPLE NEED TO SEE THIS. PLZ SHARE

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  32. bhavana samhita said:

    Well said, Buzzfeed

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  33. Kash K. said:

    Its 2019 and still bollywood is fucking shitty

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  34. Amandeep Singh said:

    I disagree. Rape is the fault of the rapist, not movies. I mean, if you can talk about movie scenes like these then you should be considering the aggressive porn movies as well which are available 247 at the click of a button. If everybody who watches aggressive porn was influenced by it is a rapist then the numbers would show. I don't think India has a rape culture. But yes, I do think you need a bit more maturity to see any kind of porn or aggressive movie scenes like these cause I think people tend to romanticize on everything and anything.

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  35. Tarka khber G said:

    Wow mam love from Lahore u showed amazing stuff means I didn't think about it that way

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  36. sNippSss bts said:

    It has always been on my mind , thank you for this video

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  37. Samarjit Chowdhury said:

    We need to continue this conversation.

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  38. Varsha sivaramakrishnan said:

    Very well said. Infact this applies even to south indian film industries. People were furious about kabir singh but no one cared about arjun reddy, the original telugu kabir singh. To make things worse it's coming again in tamil. Most commercial tamil films aggrandize the hero and reduce the heroine to a mere object. Even highly talented and respected actresses end up taking worthless roles. Waiting for the day when toxicity is removed from Indian film industries.

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  39. aayuxh said:

    Well said

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  40. ayan mandal said:

    Thank you for making this content in English words .. this is what needed to be told 🤗

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  41. GROOVYchick said:

    Actually, the reason why our society is so conservative is not because of religion, nationalism or colonialism. It is because of the Mughal rule. Mughal rule was Islamic and they promoted purdah culture and Gender segregation in India. These concepts from our ancestral days are still being practiced in the Middle East. Stop being so politically correct. You cant be a feminist if you aren't obnoxiously honest.

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  42. Shiv said:

    Thank fucking god for making this video!! Well said!! Also fuck bollywood🤢

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  43. Harsh Vardhan said:

    What the fuck??? 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 How much spare time do you guys have to think of all this shit and make a video of it🤣🤣🤣

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  44. Jordan Balid said:

    Double standard video

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  45. joydeep paul said:

    Bollywood is trash and yes a home sweet home for nepotism.

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  46. Fiz DD said:

    Bollywood: washes brain, shows Muslims as terrorists in movies
    'Need justice at this point also'
    Why just why..a man wearing cap having a beard in a movie is shown an extremist?

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  47. umesh kaku said:

    Best video seen in a while on YouTube. love you guys.

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  48. SHREYA CHANDRA said:

    Yeah ryt .. They are shaping our behavior.. Truly correct.

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  49. Jᴜɴɢʟɪ Mᴏɴᴋᴇʏ said:

    This was such a brilliant video. Keep this kinda content coming, BuzzFeed <3

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  50. ana 90 said:

    India is not chamging soon…harrasment and teasing are normal over here…pata nhi chutiye aurton ko apna baap ki property samjhte hai…

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  51. priya pratibha said:

    Agreed…its the indian society which is ashamed even to talk about sex but it's easy for them to see on the television or in a movie..they can get entertained by the sex stories..but won't protest about it

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  52. anuradha verma said:

    What about 50 shades of grey. Being a women I found the 1st one of the series as offensive as bollywood harrasement scences/songs.

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  53. isbah xd said:

    bollywood was my whole childhood. rape culture being normalized in bollywood has always been quiet disappointing.

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  54. Lakshman Parthiban said:

    Bollywood people are puritans in public and pervert in Private

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  55. Reha Sabahath said:

    I want ds video to go viral
    Sharing as much as possible 👍

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  56. Abin Abraham said:

    You know what's best ?? .
    Don't talk to these filthy Indian girls , they take men for granted and falsely accuse men after winning their trust and looting his money.
    Indian girls now know that they can easily make a man fall for them and use them. Girls in India emotionally exploit Men.
    So Indian men stay away from these Indian Bitches find love abroad which is true .

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  57. I got Jams said:

    One of the reasons why I avoid watching Bollywood movies. Sure there are great movies depicting social taboos and important topics but other times, the movies are basically trash. Even for an action movie, you'll find atleast one item song in it. I am disappointed in that pattern. Even our ancestors were better off than us.

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  58. ramanjani bacanna said:

    Please please let this go viral. I'm a teenager and i have younger cousins and it kills me to think that they could be influenced by movies like these

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  59. itzwhoz said:

    Not only has it normalised rape culture, it has made women think that they aren't worthy of living if they were raped /filmed naked. What kind of society is that for women?

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  60. Ramu Kaka said:

    After third Centuary and cut to colonisation happened? No Mughal invaders or impact of islamisation had any affect on any thing?

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  61. Ankur chauhan said:

    https://youtu.be/xAIHhymFxNY
    I suggest all of you have a look over this video.

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  62. RickyRisha410 said:

    While Shakti for sure didn’t see this coming 😂

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  63. Avishek Bajoria said:

    women are degraded in Bollywood to a large extent. It’s not only rape , whenever there is a “women centric” film Akshay kumar seems to get the role. Indian women menstruate Akshat kumar gets a role , Indian women win a medal Akshay kumar gets a role , Indian women launch a Mars orbiter Akshay kumar gets a role. What do we have to do around here to get a women as a lead in a women centric film? And even in these women centric films instead of showing a female as the lead a male is shown as the saviour. I fail to understand the Indian society!

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  64. Prapti Prajapati said:

    How come nobody talked about Simmba ?

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  65. Debleena Burman said:

    Absolutely honest.

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  66. Anushka K G said:

    Thank you for this video, BuzzFeed.♥️

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  67. Abhipsa Tripathy said:

    It's so true.

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  68. Tannishqa Vasudeva said:

    Perfectly said!
    Perfectly explained.
    The Indian mentality really needs to be changed.

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  69. Divya branwal said:

    Only if this was in hindi, jyada log clearly samajh paate ise.!! Overall..kaafi educating hai..!

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  70. abcd xx said:

    The conviction rate for rapists has fallen at a steep rate over the past 40 years.

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  71. Aparna Shandilya said:

    Me:Who the f*uck disliked it
    Bollywood actor's:😠it was just comedy because for us comedy is something in which we make jokes on women insecurity, LGBTQ community,80% dark skinned Indians,fat /slim people, physically challenged people and making cringy faces and so on.
    Me: but why
    BA: because for us comedy of Mr bean and charie Champlin never existed
    Mean while Sajid nanadwal scripting his next movie ,my movie will have tits,butt,boobs,breast,boobs,ass,tits,boobs,ass,item no,boobs,butt,tits, random Chicks,conservative ideology hero villan tits,butt,boobs,breast,boobs,ass,tits,boobs,ass,item no,boobs,butt,tits,

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  72. Aparna Shandilya said:

    Scene from aiya disgust me

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  73. Hocha Sumnyan said:

    This film industry needs wise men. Not dicks

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  74. Tina Banger said:

    This is so sad, how can you normalise rape and sexual violence 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  75. Soulful Sonya said:

    This is amazing !!!!!!

    November 11, 2019
    Reply
  76. Anisha Kshetrapal said:

    EXACTFUCKINGLY.

    November 12, 2019
    Reply
  77. Ritzy Cupcake said:

    Thank you so much for this video! I always used to be disturbed and wonder why they had to include rape scenes in the olden movies my parent’s generation love so much and now it makes sense. Blatantly creepy Bollywood!

    November 12, 2019
    Reply
  78. MANIK sharma said:

    Great work buzz feed

    November 12, 2019
    Reply
  79. Nafira Nayeem said:

    Yas queen. 👏🏼

    November 12, 2019
    Reply
  80. Sandhya Jalan said:

    Her voice is soo low

    November 12, 2019
    Reply
  81. lakshya varshney said:

    Awesome video

    November 12, 2019
    Reply
  82. Player’s Narrative said:

    Discount Vox video

    November 12, 2019
    Reply
  83. Neil Sequeira said:

    why would rape be actresses problem when they are paid 100 crores for item numbers and getting scenes of abuse ? you being a womantalk against but what about #metoo chamelis who get real world women raped because of oversexualistaion.

    November 12, 2019
    Reply
  84. Malika Handa said:

    THIS IS BY FAR THE BEST VIDEO ON THIS CHANNEL

    November 12, 2019
    Reply
  85. Malika Handa said:

    PLZ MAKE MORE CONTENT LIKE THIS 🙌🏼🙏🏼

    November 12, 2019
    Reply
  86. nafis said:

    Where is Kabir Singh?

    November 12, 2019
    Reply
  87. mrakswxy said:

    Well said! Please make the same video in Hindi for greater reach.

    November 12, 2019
    Reply
  88. Maria Temkin said:

    Very good ✊❤

    November 12, 2019
    Reply
  89. supriya biswas said:

    One of the best video from your channel. ♥️

    November 12, 2019
    Reply
  90. Shayri said:

    You've only talked about the villains here – let's talk about the heroes. Shahrukh Khan in DDLJ, Josh ; where stalking & sexual harassment is shown to be romantic.
    Govinda in most of his films. Varun Dhawan, Housefull etc. Ishqzaade(He rapes her & she falls for him.) Kangana's ex in Queen – there's a dialogue where she says, aise hi thode na maani thi, 2 saal tak peecha karaya tha.
    Women saying stuff like that is just as problematic. Men are only half the equation. That women still love DDLJ & tropes like stalking & construe them as romantic is just as awful.

    November 12, 2019
    Reply
  91. Random Person said:

    Stop trying to ruin Bollywood. This is India not America. The movies are fine.

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  92. Abhishek Soni said:

    👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  93. R V said:

    Yes i agree cinema shape our minds but, Ask the heroines why are they willing to do such roles ?
    They can go to any level for money and then justify it also. So problem start from there. First women have to start respecting themselves.

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  94. Shashank Sharma said:

    Chatur ki speech rape ko normalise nahi kar raha hai.

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  95. Maisa Tabassum said:

    Video edit ke liye best app konsa hai?

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  96. уо веасн said:

    Say it louder for the people at the back queen

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  97. Astra sweety said:

    Well said 👍

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  98. Astra sweety said:

    You missed bahubali Avantika scene

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  99. ether stars said:

    The content that needs to be preached! Respect from Pakistan! 🇵🇰

    November 13, 2019
    Reply
  100. omfriend said:

    Yeah… Please talk about Bollywood potraying Gays as maniacs too…

    November 13, 2019
    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *