Bollywood has produced great music over the years. Beats that make us wanna chaiyya chaiyya and lyrics that hold our hands when our jag is soona soona. As in any art form, it is common to use exaggerated imagery and grandiloquent odes to emphasize how great it feels to love someone and share that bond with them. Bollywood goes one step further and sets unrealistic and sometimes downright creepy standards about romance for us. No thanks bollywood, we would like to khadkao the kundi before entering, it’s basic courtesy!
Questionable romantic lyrics from multiple songs through repeated exposure gets internalized. Especially at younger ages when we don’t have an independent thinking machine that can ward off utter bullshit. This sets alarming expectations not only of HOW to court partners, but also what to expect of them once you do somehow creep your way into their hearts. We don’t even know when singing “gandi baat” turns into internalizing that kind of behavior. Gandi baat literally says that the protagonist is now frustrated with being polite and kind, cue being an ass and treating the person they are trying to court with disrespect. And that song is a bop! That being said, please do NOT wait on Nukkads for your partners to show up and then follow them.
All the people out there yelling laila and tearing their kurtas! Not only has it set unrealistically bad examples for us, it has ruined the peace of every kurta out there. As intense as love can feel, bollywood is hell bent on displaying it through shady behaviors. Songs seemingly talking about love purport behaviors like threatening, stalking, disrespecting, manipulating, being stubborn, disregarding express boundaries and characteristically pursuing someone until they “give up” and “give in”. Three cheers for love! Apun ne bol diya na tu meri laila.
Excuse you. Alarming lines like “ye uska style hoyenga/ hotho pe na dil mein haan hoyenga” are patronizing and assume that people can’t voice their feelings and therefore are at the mercy of the lover’s love. Bollywood makes love sound like an all powerful dictatorship! Instead of the gentle courtship between people, it often portrays characters where one feels “love” and the other is “not interested”. Naturally, the one who is not interested is wrong, because love! So one creepy song later the “not interested” character mellows down and et voila- Love!
Even if your lover is a desi kalakar micromanaging what you need to pack and telling you everything is “gonna be alright”, real life doesn’t work that way. No no honey singh. Running away, shirking responsibilities and duties are the bread and butter of a bollywood romance. Everything is theirs, all our time is theirs, we are only theirs, with nothing better to do than just stare into eyes, drive in the rain and quite often, foolishly risk death. The obsession with giving up living if not with our beloved sounds less romantic and more tantrum-ish when we think about it without the groovy beats.
So what do we do? Stop listening to music? No! Groove to these deliciously rhythmic beats but also create an awareness that this is not what real life or healthy love looks like. Understanding how these lyrics get internalized over time and spread awareness about them. Talking to our partners and setting realistic standards is also immensely helpful. Using bollywood songs to measure the soundness of our love lives is like using adult movies to measure our sexual lives. It is staged for a reason, Nobody’s dupatta mafically catches on to the wrist accessory of the love of your life!
As good as they are, they have helped set unrealistic standards for generations of Indians feeling disappointed in their very real relationships that simply can’t stand up to the impossible standards depicted in these unfortunately slapping songs. No song goes “I will love you but also take care of my needs. I will support you like a tree. I will try and make time for you and also meet my responsi-bili-tees.” It rhymes, we promise.