We Hate This Hate Story Too!
By Aarushi Mahajan and Shweta Kabra
Here is a line from the movie to give you a trailer of what lies ahead:
“Tum toh pehle bhi bikao thi, ab tumhari keemat badal gayi hai” (You’re an item whose value in the market has changed).
In a story about rich, powerful and vindictive men, two women find themselves caught in the middle of their game of lies, murder and of course, sex.
Conference on ‘Women’s Empowerment’
The movie begins with Siya (Zareen Khan) giving an interview at a conference for ‘Women’s Empowerment’. Ironically, the first question that is put to her at a conference on ‘Women’s Empowerment’ is about her husband and whether she is the woman ‘behind’ this successful business tycoon. Although she seems to convince the audience that empowered women are no longer behind but ‘beside’ men, this doesn’t change the fact that they are still talking about how the women play a part in shaping their husband’s careers. Through the next question, the viewers are given a glimpse of her ‘scandalous’ past. Aditya (Sharman Joshi) took pity upon Siya and his brother’s child in her womb and married her. Of course, the responsibility or stigma attached to a single mother couldn’t possibly be ‘allowed’ to be borne by Siya. She then tells the interviewer that she had a miscarriage, but everything is okay since she happened to fall in love with Aditya. Thank goodness for that!
Beewi do, paise lo
Aditya receives an Audi from a mysterious benefactor and decides to meet him. Siya does not want to attend, but she must, as the Audi was given to ‘them’ and she must thank the gifter suitably like a good wife. We now finally get to meet Saurav Singhania (Karan Grover), the macho billionaire, who will later be responsible for the mess that Saurav’s Company falls into.
When they go to meet him, Siya is asked by both men to take a tour of the house, because there couldn’t possibly be any need for a woman in such a business meeting. There are many points in the film which objectify women, but this one may be the most blatant. Saurav offers Aditya a cheque to which he can as many zeroes as he wants to, if he ‘gives’ Siya to him for a night. The sheer audacity of this demand reeks of entitlement and sexism. This invokes outrage in Aditya as he is unwilling to share his property with another man. He angrily exclaims that no one is allowed to even mention her name in front of him.
Siya finishes sight seeing, and is of course, told nothing about this furious exchange centered around her. This sequence is repeated towards the end as well where Aditya says to Siya that he would rather risk his life than let her compromise her virtue.
By the end, when Siya gives in to Saurav and lands up at his house, he exclaims that ‘women don’t take money for having sex, they take money for having to leave my bed after sex’. This line describes perfectly what he truly thinks of women. Now comes a song where he keeps touching her despite her crying, cringing and running away in despair. She finally gets some liquid courage and does the deed. We finally arrive at the moment that this movie was made for- the raunchy sex. After all, that’s what the audience is here to see. Let’s forget for a moment that there absolutely no consent, and that this is simply romanticised and sexualised rape.
Kaya, The Sacrificed Lamb
Kaya (Daisy) is an executive working in Aditya’s Company. She seems like a strong female character and Aditya tells her that she has done extremely well in her career and gives her responsibilities to head meetings. She seems uncertain, but, of course, he says that he knows her better than she does. After all, when is a woman allowed to be confident in her ambition and career, unless a man gives her permission?
But for all his praise and encouragement, Aditya doesn’t hesitate in the slightest when throwing Kaya under the bus. When the Company falls into a big mess due to adulterated products in the market. Aditya, our successful man conveniently wants Kaya to take the fall for the entire mess. Kaya objects and is angry, but he does not give her a choice and has already blamed her in the press. She is enraged, she walks out, refusing the money offered. At this point, we are convinced that our strong female character has been wronged by this power-drunk man.
But in reality, Kaya was a trojan horse. She had sex with Saurav to lower his guard, and tells Aditya about Saurav’s ‘real’ identity. There are two ways to intrepret this: either Kaya was in complete control of her sexuality and used it against Saurav to trick him, or that Aditya proposed that she be used as a pawn to throw Saurav off his game. Keeping in line with the songs, it is probably the latter. Even though Kaya was a top notch professional, the only tool to be used in her kitty was of course, her sexuality.
He reveals to Kaya that he is executing this vengeful plan only because Aditya broke his little sister’s heart in college that led her to commit suicide. What we can gauge from this situation is that like all traditional battles, this one is fought by a “Protective brother” on behalf of his sister. (Don’t we all love the values espoused by our age old Hindu festival of Rakhi?)
At one point, Saurav compliments her by calling her ‘beauty with brains’. Thank you for not letting us forget that a woman cannot be complimented upon her talents without mentioning her beauty!
Wait! Sometime later we realize that Saurav is actually the one tricking Kaya. He forcibly makes out with Kaya. He violently kisses her and she falls dead to the ground, He poisoned her. The pawn in the game of chess is now disposed off in some random cover up car accident.
When a woman has an opinion…
Siya tries to give her opinion at various points in the movie but as expected, her wise words are never taken seriously. There are several instances where she expressed sensible, rational opinions, but it’s hardly ever even acknowledged, making one wonder why the writers bothered giving her any lines at all. It’s only when she says that ‘as a woman I have a sense about certain things’, that her opinion is taken with some seriousness. This was rather troubling, as her opinions weren’t taken seriously until she talked about her instincts as a woman.
And the award for the most sexist songs goes to…
Since songs that objectify women have become quite the norm in Bollywood, it comes as no surprise that the songs not only talk about women in terms of property but also romanticize stalking. However, this movie goes a step further and manages to successfully glorifying rape, with the backdrop of beautiful music.
The Bechdel Test Marker
One would think that a movie which shows a conference on ‘Women’s Empowerment’ could at the very least be expected to pass the already low threshold of the Bechdel Test. But there isn’t a single dialogue in the movie where two women talk to each other about anything other than a man. In fact, the two women can hardly be seen talking! The dialogues allotted to them could be counted on one’s fingers. The film reinforced stereotypes about masculinity and objectification, as the women were relegated to roles in item numbers, or victims of molestation, harassment and rape.