We are always ready with our labels

The wild girl gets nothingWhile our opinion about the cinematic merits and demerits of the film 'Cocktail' might differ, there's no doubt about the fact that the subtext of the film was as regressive as it can get. The 'adarsh bharatiya nari' (good Indian girl) always gets the guy is the most clichéd premise in Hindi cinema but the fact that a film made by Imtiaz Ali and Homi Adajania actually conforms to such stereotypes is irksome.

My colleague, Sayoni Sinha says in her blog, "Women in Hindi films are portraits of what Indian filmgoers expect women to be. The images confirm their belief in the weakness and pliability of Indian women." Like Rajyasree Sen says in her blog on Firspost, "You can be independent, self-sufficient, a really good friend — but hey, if you drink and wear small clothes, you ain't worth shit."

We in India love putting labels on people. A girl who drinks and smokes is bound to be "loose" (read, a slut), a girl who openly talks about sex is bound to be promiscuous (you know, the sleeping-around types), if you are a divorced woman then you are sex starved (and therefore, desperate) and if you are a mother but still like to enjoy a drink once in a while then you are definitely a bad role model (a bad mother with no morals).

Talking about 'Cocktail', Sen says, "So morality has nothing to do with loyalty or honesty or taking responsibility for one's actions. It has everything to do with wearing revealing clothes and drinking and dancing at a bar and not being a traditional Indian woman."

It is this skewed sense of morality that I don't understand. Qualities like sincerity, frankness and friendship mean nothing as long as you can fake morality. The hypocrisy inherent in our society is that we chose to circumvent morals when we need to but when it comes to others, we are conscientious judges of their deeds. We as a society love stereotypes and in our black and white worlds, there is no place for the grey. There is no place for individuals and relationships that we don't understand.

Who gives us the right to stand on a moral high ground and issue a diktat on what/who is morally right? Actually, who is the final authority on morality? Do we know for sure that we will not find ourselves in a similar situation when we quickly pass a judgment on someone?

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