Every year we expect better films from Bollywood. Films that shatter certain stereotypes, or educate and sensitise the audience and communities about a taboo topic. It's not that Bollywood doesn't make movies on such topics. It does and did this year too, only to make things worse.
These topics were better left untouched by Bollywood in 2021.
1. Mental Health
There have been decent Bollywood films in the past like Karthik Calling Karthik and A Death in the Gunj that highlighted the importance of therapy and emotional support to those suffering from mental health issues. But this year, all we saw was mental health being reduced to mockery. Atrangi Re is full of such instances.
A young girl's schizophrenia is labelled as 'pagalpan' by a studying psychatrist. Not only this, her mental illness is made fun of by saying that she belongs to a museum in France and shouldn't be allowed to roam free. As per the film, there's no concept of consent when a patient is treated for mental health issues. Moreover, who even needs the treatment when love can cure all.
Parineeti Chopra's The Girl On The Train, is another movie that showed the protagonist suffering from PTSD and addiction. It successfully stereotyped these patients by showing Parineeti's character with ‘black nails and dark eyes’ like a zombie.
Commercial surrogacy is a sensitive topic in India. You cannot go wrong with the basic laws that govern this practice. Kriti Sanon starrer Mimi might have taken the bold step of starting conversations around surrogacy but it got so many things wrong with respect to surrogacy.
An IVF doctor talked about the facts misrepresented in the film in an elaborate video. As of 2018, it is illegal for foreigners who do not hold an Indian passport to try for surrogacy in India but the film still revolves around a foreign couple coming to India in search of a surrogate.
Moreover, the problematic words like "stock of beautiful girls" used to describe a surrogate further takes away all from the good that the movie aimed to do.
3. Tamil culture
Bollywood has this old love for portraying the Tamil culture as South Indian but it hardly gets it right. They end up stereotyping a lot of things about Tamils instead of breaking the mould and making all-inclusive films. Case in point, Meenakshi Sundareshwar, that came out this year.
From an unrelatable cast to unnecessary Rajinikanth references, the film perpetuated Bollywood's trend of inaccurate portrayal of Tamil culture even more.
Typical Shitty Stereotyping of Tamil nadu by Bollywood .— Varun a.k.a. Vimal (@Valimai233332) October 12, 2021
& No offence , Why always RAJINIKANTH reference ?😑
Its exhausting to see the stereotypical portrayal of TAMIL people in Bollywood movies .#Valimai #AjithKumar https://t.co/KJntVUxIRD
4. Single working mothers
It is very rare to see films in Bollywood that bring to us stories of women, especially single working mothers. And when Bollywood makes such films, we really look forward to them. Tribhanga – Tedhi Medhi Crazy was one such movie that gave us hope this year.
But it turned out to be more problematic than it appeared. It questions the choices of all mothers in the film and reinforces the notion that women should attend to their children first and if they don't, they are ‘messing up’ their kids' lives. It makes us ponder over the very concept of motherhood.
5. The trans community
In a bid to make movies that can educate and sensitise people about the trans community, Bollywood made things worse for them with Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui. It was filled with transphobic content under the garb of wokeism. Crass phrases like 'Andar se Bahar se' or 'Thi ya tha' or 'Ladke ke sath sex, tu toh ladka bhi nahi hai' have been used in the film.
The film lacked research and what could have been an informative film just turned out to be a movie that just touched the topic on the surface.
6. Female Foeticide
Female foeticide is a crucial social topic in India but why do films sending out a message on this need to be horror or spooky? Nushrratt Bharuccha starrer Chhorii does just that.
It aims to comment on such an important issue via the medium of horror storytelling and fails miserably at that.
Dear Bollywood, we expect you to do proper research before talking about these crucial and sensitive topics next time.