An increasing number of cases where girls have been stalked, harassed and even brutally murdered by spurned men have put the Tamil film industry under scrutiny.

 

In an online petition, Iswarya V, who is a drama researcher, stated that "Tamil films routinely promote stalking as an acceptable, even preferred way of wooing a woman”. This petition has gathered a lot of support from movie buffs and even a few actors in the industry.

 

Just a couple of months ago an IT professional in Chennai was hacked to death at a city railway station in broad daylight. This case triggered national outrage, bringing the Tamil film industry under the scanner. But how fair is it to completely blame the film industry for influencing stalkers to commit this crime?

 

According to a research, “Media portrayals of gendered aggression can have pro-social effects, and that the romanticized pursuit behaviours commonly featured in the media as a part of normative courtship can lead to an increase in stalking-supportive beliefs.”

 

However, we cannot just blame the Kollywood fraternity. Since the whole issue of romanticising stalking doesn’t start and end with the Tamil film industry alone.

 

Remember Bollywood’s blockbuster hit Darr? This movie showed Shahrukh Khan as a creepy stuttering stalker who refused to take “no” for an answer from ‘Kiran’. And on the top of that, his famous pick-up line from the movie, “Tu haan kar ya naa kar, tu hai meri Kiran,” clearly indicates that the protagonist doesn’t get the idea of consent.

 

For your information, this is the same movie which gave Shahrukh Khan his much-needed break in Bollywood.

 

 

Another film that conventionalised this crime was Salman Khan’s Tere Naam. Salman Khan played the character of Radhey, who is a badass college guy who stalks any girl he wants and beat any guy he hates. He later shadows and kidnaps a docile girl whom he claims to love. The girl, after being kidnapped, shows signs of Stockholm Syndrome. The long-haired Radhey became an idol for all hopeless "romantics" (Read: stalkers).

 

I remember a classmate with a similar haircut as that of Radhey chasing girls at school. He took the character so seriously that he was later nicknamed Radhey by his friends.

 

 

This list will be incomplete if we don’t include the Dhanush-starrer Raanjhana, in which he plays the role of an annoying boy in Varanasi who goes the extra mile to stalk and woo the love of his life.

 

He stalks her, grabs her hand in public and she is perfectly fine with his creepy behaviour. But after she rejects him, he threatens to slit his wrist if she doesn’t reciprocate. And guess what? She falls for him and ends up kissing him.
 

 

The legal system in India clearly states that "to follow a woman and contact, or attempt to contact [her] to foster personal interaction repeatedly, despite a clear indication of disinterest by the woman..." is a crime that can attract a three to five years of  prison sentence. Then why does the film fraternity try to romanticise stalking?