Ladki Kyun" is a Bollywood song from the film "Hum Tum" released in 2004, featuring Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukerji. It explores the dynamics of romantic relationships and attempts to question gender stereotypes. However, the song we have been vibing to for 19 years, perpetuates certain gender stereotypes. This Jatin-Lalit-composed song sums up the way patriarchy conditions men and women to perform their genders in generally obnoxious ways.
Firstly, the title itself, "Ladki Kyun," immediately positions the girl as the subject of inquiry, reinforcing the idea that women need to be understood or justified. This suggests that the girl's actions and behavior require explanation, a common stereotype that burdens women to conform to societal expectations.
The song's visual representation and choreography also reinforce certain gender stereotypes. The video depicts Saif Ali Khan as a carefree, confident man, while Rani Mukerji is shown in a more rational yet dependent position. This perpetuates the notion that men are dominant and women are objects of desire, reinforcing traditional gender power dynamics.
Men are depicted through the lens of “boys will be boys”; implying that there is only one way to be a boy and only one way to be a girl.
Uf Ye Kaisi Shirt Pehante Ho
Ye Kaise Baal Katate Ho, Gaadi Tez Chalate Ho
Tum Jaldi Mein Kyon Khate Ho, Give Me A Break!
The girl, seen as a rational opposite, who thinks a lot;
Sochti Hai Zyada, Kam Wo Samajhti Hai, is by societal norms, supposed to “fix” the man. Women are seen as clueless, regressive, self-absorbed witches, who are also somehow natural caretakers every man needs.
Not to forget the subtle misogyny;
Tumhein Badalne Ko Paas Vo Aati Hai,
Tumhein Mitane Ko Jaal Bichati Hai
Baaton Baaton Mein Tumhein Phasati Hai
Pehle Hasati Hai Phir Bada Rulati Hai
Implying that women only get close to men for their ulterior motives and are always the ones to leave them devastated.
Overgenralisation has been done through the lyrics;
Ladkon Ka Kya Hai Kisi Bhi Mod Pe Vo Mur Jayein
Abhi Kisi Ke Hain, Abhi Kisi Aur Se Vo Jur Jayein
The idea is conveyed that men are predominantly unreliable beings and are most likely to betray their partners.
The song ends with an unconsented kiss that Saif Ali Khan gives, to shut her up (Rani Mukerji) is a solid breach of boundaries. Leading to problematic normals.
"Ladki Kyun" fails to deliver a truly progressive message. The song perpetuates the idea that women are to be understood, dependent, and objectified, albeit with some token attempts to subvert these stereotypes. It misses an opportunity to break away from traditional gender norms and present a more inclusive and empowering narrative.