Glorification Of Stalking In Bollywood

Bollywood is world’s largest film industry in terms of films being produced per year in a  particular country which is 364 films being annually featured(2017). Since its inception from Raja Harish Chandra in the year 1913, it is the only industry in India which has never suffered losses.

But as we all know every coin has 2 sides to it, similar is the case of Bollywood. With the profits being earned by them not only is benefitting our economic status of our country but also its affecting our Social Culture. The biggest problem faced by our country is its illiteracy. Therefore, bollywood is considered to be one of major influences of societal behavior of people due to its wide reach to public. And hence alcoholism, misogyny, patriarchy, commodification of women, etc are the gift given to us by the largest fraternity of film producers in the world.

But the most dangerous amongst them is “STALKING”

The informal way in which stalking is regularly portrayed on display increases alarming questions. If the makers of Toilet feel that the film has a sturdy message against open defecation, can one expect its message is as a lot about making stalking regular or even a favored manner of wooing a female? Specifically, a movie like this one is extra than ‘entertainment’, it’s miles Entertainment-Education

As many would argue, stalking is an old Bollywood trope. The popular number ‘o laal dupatta walli, tera naam to bata’ from Aankhen was the stalking song of the 1990s.

But many popular movies from that era which had stalking as its central plot – such Darr, Anjaam, Daraar and Jeet – still maintained the semblance of a moral compass: the stalkers were accepted as villainous ‘obsessed lovers’ rather than heroes. The compass, it seems, has shifted in the last quarter.

For example in Raanjhanaa, starring Tamilian superstar Dhanush, and the 2003 film Tere Naam, starring Salman Khan. In these films, the stalkers torture and ruin their victims’ lives due to their morbid infatuation before choosing their own passionate end. Ironically, the audiences lapped up the message of selfless love and honesty of the ‘heroes’ and rooted for them. The actors’ craft created a deep sense of sympathy among viewers, edging out the fact that stalking is a purely criminal act.

Legal Aspect

Stalking is considered to be the pre- cursor to many other crimes. In California stalking was recognized as crime back in 1990 but it took us almost 68 years of Independence to recognize it was a mere crime. The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013 not only recognized it as a crime but also defined it in the widest way possible under section 354D of the Indian Penal Code which is as follows:

Stalking[1]

Any man who—  

  1. follows a woman and contacts, or attempts to contact such woman to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication of disinterest by such woman; or
  2. Monitors the use by a woman of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication, commits the offence of stalking.[2]

The section as mentioned is quite wide and also describes about the punishment which can be extended up to 3-5 years of imprisonment. The main issue regarding the section was that it is a bail able offence if it is first offence. Justice Verma committee was set up to check whether the validity of the section was present or not regarding the bail ability of criminal to which the committee supported the view of Mr. Shashi Tharoor who was opined that it shouldn’t be bail able because this so called simple offence can be the root was of many other heinous crimes like murder, acid attack, rape, etc. but due to the opposition pressure the first offence was recognized to be bail able.

With development of technology this crime is not only limited to physical stalking but had also added one more facet to it which cyber stalking. In other words “Whoever monitors the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication that results in a fear of violence, or interferes with the mental peace of such person, commits the offence of cyber stalking.” Under section 67, 67A, 66A and 72 of the IT Act, 2000 deals with stalking and its implication and punishments.

Sandesh Baliga Case

In a sensational case from Australia in 2015, an Indian man, Sandesh Baliga, accused of stalking two women in Tasmania, successfully argued that he believed the patient pursuit of a woman would make her fall in love with him since that’s what he’d seen in Bollywood films. He also stated that he learnt the art of stalking from Shah Rukh Khan’s character in the movie Darr. This shows how much impact movies make and have in the lives of people living in not only in Indian society but also in other countries.

Pryadarshini Mattoo Case

The deceased was an aspiring lawyer studying in the prestigious Delhi University where she first met the accused Santosh Kumar Singh, who was her senior in college. He was since his first meeting with was besotted by her beauty and also made many attempts of indecent proposals to her. After sometimes her family lodged FIR against him but still he stalked her every possible where. One day her body was found strangulated at her uncle’s place. After autopsy it was found that she was raped and then murdered and the direct accuse went to her senior. But since he belonged to an influential family residing in Delhi where the incident took place he was granted parole in the year 2012 which is still continuing.

NCRB Report

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the number of stalking cases in 2015 was 6,266. Yet, these figures likely do not capture the entire scale and horror of stalking. It has been four years since stalking was recognised as a form of violence against women under IPC Section 354D. But the crime is punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term up to three to five years. The lack of diligent law enforcement is evident in these horrific stalking crimes. According to the NCRB a study was conducted in the Geena Davis Institute on gender media. It was concluded in that, that India is ranked very high in world cinema when it comes to sexualizing women. Also is was stated that the highest number of crimes committed against women in India is in Uttar Pradesh with about 38467 per year and the lowest being in Uttarakhand and Lakshwadweep.

Theories

In social learning theory, Albert Bandura (1977) agrees with the behaviorist learning theories of classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Individuals that are observed are called models. In society, children are surrounded by many influential models, such as parents within the family, characters on children’s TV, friends within their peer group and teachers at school. These models provide examples of behavior to observe and imitate.[3]

Cultivation theory was founded by George Gerbner and is positivistic. Cultivation theory examines the long-term effects of television. “The primary proposition of cultivation theory states that the more time people spend ‘living’ in the television world, the more likely they are to believe social reality aligns with reality portrayed on television.”[4] The images and ideological messages transmitted through popular television media heavily influence perceptions of the real world.[5]

Recommendations

  1. Filing Complain to National Commission for Women and the commission will take up the complaint to the police. The commission has been bestowed by the power to form committee in case of urgency. They can also issue summons to accused, witnesses and police reports, to facilitate inquiry. They have also provided their contact numbers at public forum so that, in case of emergency the victim can contact them as soon as possible.
  2. “Atithi Devo Bhava”- it is the slogan followed by the Ministry of tourism in India but its so shameful for us that not only Indians but also foreigners are victims of stalking. In order to protect them the ministry of Tourism in collaboration with Tata Business Support services launched Infoline in 12 different languages for making it user friendly for the foreign tourists.
  3. Online registration complaint by victims.
  4. Zero FIR- this kind of FIR can be filed at any part of India irrespective of its Jurisdiction.

Conclusion

In India stalking can either be physical or electronic via mail, social media profile, etc irrespective of the medium used it constitutes to a criminal offence with an imprisonment of min. 3 years.

Regardless of whether one is working professional or student or housewife- many women in India get stalked on regular basis. Due to the fear of being stalked many women avoid getting out of their house and become pardanashin. In order to avoid stalking women are asked to dress so called “modestly” so that they don’t cater unwanted attention or either are asked to have a male company along with them. Even after independence of 72 years why are still women being caged? Isn’t it the duty og the government to make them feel save? Isn’t duty of the Entertainment industry to make sensible movies? Isn’t the duty of CBFC to take into consideration as to what will affect the social behavior of people?

The problem isn’t that stalking is being shown on the big screen but the root cause is that it is being promoted as heroic gesture.

As discussed above in movies like Darr, Anjam, Tumsa nahi dekha,etc the stalker were shown as the villainous character in the film but from the early 2000s in movies like Sultan, Tere Naam, Raanjhanaa, Ae Dil Hain Mushkil, Rehna Hai Tere Dil mein, Toilet, etc the compass has totally shifted from villains to heroes of the movie. Therefore the rise in number of stalking cases can be seen from the early 2000s.

Hence, it is the duty of the entertainment Industry as a whole to act responsibly because they are not only the world’s biggest film fraternity but also play an important role in educating the society.

Author:  Poulomi Goswami, Intern at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys. In case of any  queries please contact/write back to us at swapnils@khuranaandkhurana.com.

References:

[1] Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013

[2] Section 354D, Indian Penal Code, 1860

[3] https://www.simplypsychology.org/bandura.html

[4]  Riddle, K. (2009). Cultivation Theory Revisited: The Impact of Childhood Television Viewing Levels on Social Reality Beliefs and Construct Accessibility in Adulthood

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultivation_theory

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