2017’s ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’ has more issues than a Filmfare magazine. To be fair, Varun Dhawan’s movies are not known to be well-made. However, while rewatching this movie after 2 years, I could not believe what was unfolding before my eyes. Also, please don’t judge me. Quarantine is getting to all of us.
The Infamous Scene
Let’s not bog you down with the details and get to the scene. Alia Bhatt (Vaidehi) and Varun Dhawan (Badri) are living with their toxic relationship in Singapore. After creating an expected ruckus, Badri finds himself being lectured from Vaidehi. All this is happening in a dark alleyway. Suddenly, a group of Singaporean-thugs drop into the scene. Ooo, trouble!
Badri, like any self-respecting Indian mard, orders Vaidehi to run. The thugs surround Varun and start sexually harassing him. Unmistakably, this is a terrifying scenario. But out of nowhere, we hear goofy, funny music. What is happening?
The thugs are touching him in all his danger zones. Badri, understandably, is asking them not to do it. However, the music is not matching the horror that I’m just witnessing. As a man, I am completely appalled!
Friends’ reaction worsens the scene
Thankfully, Vaidehi brings backup and the thugs scurry away. We see the devastation of the Singaporean-thuggee tornado. Badri’s clothes are completely torn and he is clearly traumatised. I thought the music choice was a mistake and the scene couldn’t get worse, and then it does.
The friends look at Badri and start snickering. Vaidehi, who’s also in the snickering-party, tells them to shush it. What kind of friends are these? Who greenlit this?
I’ve seen Varun’s movies and I have zero hope, but I expected better from Alia Bhatt. I paused the film at this moment and couldn’t get myself to resume after this point.
Sexual harassment against men played for laughs
Let me paint you a hypothetical. Imagine it’s 2017 and you are watching a newly released movie. There’s a scene in the film where a woman is getting harassed and it is played for comedic purposes. The movie would be shredded to pieces. And might I add, rightfully so.
Why didn’t we notice the absurdity in Badrinath Ki Dulhania in 2017?
A man getting molested by a group of men is somehow funny even today. Men are, for lack of a better word, the butt of the joke even when they are going through a traumatic experience.
The problem runs deep into our legal system, as well. According to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, rape cases against men are not recognised. Bollywood is the least of our worries when our legal system is so fundamentally flawed.
Hope For Bollywood
Let’s get one thing straight, I don’t want to leave Bollywood off the hook. They have the power of influencing minds. In the recent past, we have learnt that even Bollywood can be adaptive. We are seeing women and LGBTQIA+ characters being portrayed sensitively in movies like Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan and Queen. So, there’s hope.
Badrinath Ki Dulhania released just 2 years before Kabir Singh. It came out the same year as Arjun Reddy. And it still did not receive even 10% of the flak the other movies got. Movies won’t change unless we force them to change. Badrinath Ki Dulhania stunk like spoilt milk the day it released. We just had our noses covered.
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