Farhan Akhtar to daughters: Stalking has turned into a mutated form of cinematic romance

In an open letter to his two daughters, the actor raises issue of women safety in India and condemns stalking of women in Indian cinema.

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Mayur Lookhar

He’s usually a reticent guy but if there is one issue that Farhan Akhtar has been very vocal about it is women's safety and the scourge of rape in India.

The Bhaag Milkha Bhaag actor, who has separated from his wife Adhuna, has always battled for women safety in Indian. Akhtar has penned an open letter to his two daughters Shakya and Akira. The tow are aged 16 and 9. In this open letter, Akhtar has touched upon the issue of women's safety, but more importantly, in a rare instance a actor from Hindi cinema has condemned the way women are being projected in certain films.

Akhtar has equated innate wooing attempts by the hero as stalking the heroine. 

“As an industry, we are guilty of normalising the invasion of a woman’s space, the woman’s body. Those watching our movies think it is ‘normal’ to harass a college or a village girl even when the girl is saying she’s not interested. You must also have seen movies in which the entire supporting cast conspires to help the ‘hero’ know the girl he’s interested in. They get together to help him (not her); they block her path wherever she goes. They conspire to bring them face to face, to the point where he’ll hold her, catch her dress, even jump on top of her in some instances. Such behaviour — which flies in the face of consent that I’ve always tried to talk to you about — has been normalised by movies. Stalking, unfortunately, has become a mutated form of cinematic romance,” Farhan pointed out in his letter.

“Rape and sexual harassment have often figured in movies. Earlier, the ‘bad guy’ was always the villain but think about it, the villain who used to be the stalker in college, for example, has now been replaced by the hero. Step back and see and what you’ll realise is that the creep you hated in movies is the one who is ‘getting’ the girl. Worse, the girl ends up believing that he’s stalking her because he loves her and she ends up thinking, ‘he must really love me’,” added Farhan.

This write-up is a part of Hindustan Times 'Let’s talk about rape' series which will see eight personalties discuss the reality of sexual assault in India.

Apart from the Nirbhyaya rape, Akhtar was hit hard with the rape and murder of a former employee who worked in his legal team in 2013.

Viewers can read the full text of Akhtar’s open letter here.