Doesn’t matter how many times my parents have watched Baghban, they still make sure they watch it every time it comes on TV. Not just my parents, but also my mother-in-law is in love with the movie. Whenever the movie is being telecasted, she makes sure that either my husband or I sit with her and watch it. Both my parents and my mother-in-law believe that the movie promotes family values and the right sanskaars!
But, contrary to the popular belief the movie Baghban is not about family values or sanskaar. Rather it is about the regressive patriarchal mindset that is the core of many social evils!
Like my parents, if Baghban is your favourite movie, then I suggest you stop reading it any further. But if you read it, then please accept my apology for ruining this movie for you! Here are the things that are problematic to the core, and don’t have to do anything about family values or sanskaar:
1. Promoting patriarchal mindset, the movie conveniently blames everything on the daughter-in-law.
Remember when the character of Hema Malini goes to stay with her son’s family, she very conveniently blames everything on her daughter-in-law. The movie promotes the stereotype of the evil daughters-in-law who control and brainwash the sons. Because sons are always innocent and naïve!
2. The movie has an issue with working women too!
On multiple occasions, the movie portrays how working and independent women are incapable of being a good mothers, caretakers or even good human beings.
3. The movie not only shames, but also labels kids as evil for living life on their own terms
It is our regressive mindset that tends to control our kids and their life choices. Time when they start living life on their own terms, we tend to label them as selfish or self-centered. It is such a shame how we tell our kids that they owe us their lives, just because we brought them into this world. Our kids don’t owe us anything! It’s their lives and we need to let them live as they want!
The characters of Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini didn’t just want to stay with their children, they also wanted them to change their lives to accommodate them. And, when they didn’t, the movie labelled them as evil and self-centered!
4. The movie also focuses on victim-blaming in cases of sexual harassment
The particular scene, when Hema Malini saves her granddaughter from her boyfriend’s unwanted advances, has been produced in a way that it blames the woman for the assault. In not so subtle way, the filmmakers tend to convey the patriarchy driven message that if you are a woman, who goes to parties and/or has a boyfriend, you ‘asked’ for it.
5. The movie is a massive promoter of misogynist attitude
In a scene, Hema Malini’s character tries to teach her son how to control his wife and daughter. When her son, Aman, tells her that the times have changed and he can’t control another human being, Hema Malini tells him that the times will always be the same for women!
6. The movie’s problematic definition with Sanskaari Beta!
The movie promoted Salman Khan’s character Alok as the ideal son. As per the makers, the person is only sanskari when he calls his parents or doesn’t say ‘Hello’! or does ‘charan sparsh’ or sleeps in their parents’ feet or keeps their photo in a mini temple in the house and worships them every moment! Dear Bhaghban makers and cast, FYI, you can love and adore your parents without doing any of this!
7. The movie’s problematic handling of pitching one daughter-in-law against the other.
It is not so difficult to understand how the movie makers pitch the daughters-in-law of their four biological kids against Alok’s wife, just to promote what women should do to be ‘desirable wives’. From literally worshipping parents-in-law, whom she’s never met before in her life, to being a housewife who selflessly dedicates herself to the family – the movie makers promoted the regressive idea of ‘ideal wife’ ‘ideal woman’ ‘ideal mother’ and ‘ideal daughter-in-law’!
8. No one would deny that the whole movie is an obnoxious guilt trip to manipulate kids!
Indian parents have always used the power of emotions to control their kids – to make them feel guilty for making life choices that they don’t approve of! But, that’s not fair! It is a personal choice whether someone chooses to stay with his/her parents or not. But whatever the choice, no one should be made feel guilty for their own decision!
Loving your parents isn’t about staying together. It is about being there for each other when things get tough and difficult. So, kids can stay away from their parents but still love them!