Did you know that the 2000’s Dhadkan was inspired by Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights?
I don’t understand how Indian filmmakers take an original story and manage to amplify the problems but ignore the nuances in their own movies. It’s a talent, I guess.
Dhadkan starred Akshay Kumar, Shilpa Shetty, Suniel Shetty and Mahima Chaudhry. It was directed by Dharmesh Darshan who’s responsible for other atrocities like Raja Hindustani and Mela.
I remember that the movie was received well when it was released and still had a dedicated fanbase on TikTok before it was banned by the Indian government.
Despite its popularity, Dhadkan has its fair share of cringe. Some aged so horribly, I’m pretty sure no one in their right mind is going to rewatch Dhadkan anytime soon.
A family’s “izzat” according to Dhadkan
When Dhadkan’s Anjali (Shilpa Shetty) tells her rich father (Kiran Kumar) that she’s in love with Dev (Suniel Shetty), they decide to meet, officially.
When the father finds out that Dev is poor, he reacts like any rich Bollywood father – by giving Anjali a gun to shoot him.
According to the father, Anjali’s marriage to Dev would bring immense shame upon the family.
The father goes back in time and starts his guilt trip at Anjali’s birth. He throws the mother under the bus by implying that only he wanted a baby girl.
“Jo izzat, shraddha, pyaar ek beti de sakti hain, woh ek beta kabhi nahin de sakta.” (The kind of respect, dedication and love you can get from a daughter, you can never get that from a son). That’s one way to preach “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao.”
Then he goes, “Lekin main yeh bhul gaya tha ki jo sharmindgi, jo zalalat ek beti de sakti hain woh bhi ek beta kabhi nahin deta.” (But I forgot that a son can’t cause the disgrace that a daughter can). Woah.
The father then gives a monologue about how he’s not like other fathers but if Anjali marries by free will the entire society will rally to make them do the walk of shame à la Cersei Lannister.
A girl’s choice = family’s shame
For most Indian girls, freedom of choice and free will is nothing but an illusion. If an Indian girl stands up for herself, the family berates her.
Basic necessities like education, clothes and food are brought into the argument and words like “ungrateful,” “shameless” and “stubborn” are sprinkled here and there for good measures.
Dhadkan’s Anjali lives in a huge mansion with privileges that are maxed out. The father has earned enough for the daughter to live a comfortable life.
Now that the father has made the daughter dependable under the garb of “affection,” he can assert his choices and live vicariously via the daughter.
Dhadkan unintentionally showed how women in India were and still are treated as second class citizens. Rich or poor, rights and choices are thrown out of the window.
In India, families wish for a son, but once a daughter is born, the “izzat” of family shifts on that poor soul.
She lives her life dodging stares from horny strangers and being cooped in her own shell. Instead of living, most of the girls in India are only surviving.
The average height of an Indian woman before independence was 148 cm, 14 cm shorter than the average Indian man. Maybe it’s because of all the unwarranted weight of the family’s “izzat” that’s weighing her down.
However, in the past few decades, women have bettered the average by 4.9 cm whereas men bettered by 2.9 cm.
The difference is now 12.3 cm. Maybe, the paradigm is shifting.