Changing Definitions of the Perfect Man

Posted: February 27, 2013 by Arushi in Thoughts
Tags: , , , ,

Khiladi 786

A few days ago I watched a movie. It was an okay movie. I can call it decent at best, I suppose. But that is not what has me here writing a blog post.

There was a scene in that movie that gave me pause. A small message hidden amid the usual shenanigans. The female lead (the sister of a gangster who happens to be quite capable of kicking ass) is talking to the male lead and she has just had a revelation about this man. She needs to have this talk to sort things out. To figure out if she actually likes him.

Except, her boyfriend keeps interrupting them. She tells him to go away multiple times. She is in the middle of a conversation and is NOT interested in listening to him, so he loses his temper. He grabs her arm and tries to take her away and when that does not happen, he tries to slap her.

There is no excuse. The male lead slaps the boyfriend for the affront instead, then realizes what he has done and apologizes to the girl for slapping the guy he just broke out of prison for her. She shakes her head; he did fine – putting the trash in its place.

Do you see what just happened?

Until two decades ago, or even a decade ago, the male lead’s reaction would have come after she had been hit, and it would have been rage. Now he was in time and he was apologetic for the violence. He knew better to make any decision for her. Yet, he would be worthless as the ‘hero’ if someone could actually hurt her right in front of him – the silver screen only has room for perfection. The perfect man has changed. He is no longer the one who gets to hit the bad guys and save the damsel in distress. He needs to respect the damsel and woo her; he needs to be in time. There better not be a single scratch on her, or really, what good is he?

There has been so much happening on this front lately that it is very easy to miss the small things. But really, the small things go a long way in changing people. They provide an idea to the sub-conscious about what is acceptable and what is absolutely not allowed. This  post is just an observation of changes that seemed to have happened without us even noticing.

A movie, a normal masala movie and yet every man in it respects women. Every single time, the wives are introduced and they are important parts of the family, not afterthoughts. There are no exceptions. It might give at least some minds the idea that maybe what they need for a happy family is just that – the ability to respect the people in their lives – irrespective of gender.

Maybe I am optimistic. I tend to do that often, especially here, but really, I remember movies where reality was a distant thought. Even in the dramas that portrayed picture perfect families, that sense of equality, that sense of respect for everyone was missing. There was reverence and it seemed fake. After all, we can only relate to respect that even if not earned, at least needs to be kept by the existence of good deeds or lack of bad ones.  Even the movies with a ‘message’ never really had a message because humans are not like that. We will never be the same as those characters. They are incomprehensible to us. We would have rebelled ages ago if treated like that, so why should we even try to understand the reasoning behind this blind obedience and devotion to the family?

Yet when it is presented realistically, the reasons are clear. We are devoted because we love them and vice-versa. Simple.

To me, it would seem, the most important change has been in the personality of the perfect persona glorified by Bollywood. He (the guy from the movie which started this post) woos the gun-toting girl by his words, his cool in the face of everything she throws his way, including a flower pot and somehow things work out. Always polite – never once did he stop using the honorific after her name.

That is our idea of perfect now. Not a guy who can beat up the bad guys. Not a guy who is devoted to his family. All of that is expected if it is a part of the storyline. Rich, poor, cruel, kind, criminal or cop –  part of the story, but how he treats his partner is also extremely important. It matters how the women are shown in any movie and how they are treated by the men in their lives.

There was something similar I saw in a TV show. There, just saying ‘shut up!’ to a lady gets somebody in trouble with the main characters. I will talk about that one later, because I am in love with the show and need a whole post to talk about it. But regardless, that show is on BBC One. As different from a Bollywood movie as you can get, yet the current theme seems to be a common one.

Such a change in perception, though there are exceptions, makes me happy.  This polite man who can kick-ass is infinitely more watchable on screen over an intrinsically disrespectful one any day. I find the idea of a person who understands the difference between protective and controlling, who is protective, who does not allow disrespect from anyone, including himself, towards the women in his life, good. Maybe slowly all of this will filter into reality.

This means we as a society are slowly learning that no abuse is acceptable when doled out to our loved ones. The way a person treats the other members of his family shows just what he/she is truly like. It is an important distinction that now those family members are not taken for granted. This means we’re taking steps in the right direction. Baby steps maybe, but progress is progress. Or maybe it just means that I am reading too much into a single scene in a single movie.

  1. Zeenat says:

    I think we are learning, and media is helping it move along. We have a long way to go… but we’ll get there!

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