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Try as we might, we just can't get it right!

There are some very specific gender roles show-cased in film and media, not just in Lollywood but Bollywood and Hollywood as well. Even when a film attempts to subvert the stereotype, they still manage to go right back to square one. Does this mean the stereotypes are subconscious and even a conscious effort to be different cannot combat how strongly they have been ingrained into our minds?


Maula Jatt was the story of a young man who fights a whole clan to avenge his family and restore their previous honor and glory. The film showcases much aggression from the male characters' and a lot of meekness in the females, with the exception of the character of Daroo, who was in love with power over men and was essentially given the same strength of any of the other male characters.


The gender stereotypes in Maula Jatt are so stark, with Maula and other male characters being aggressive and violent from a young age, going into boxing as a hobby and then of course fighting against each other, even their whole 'possession' of women concept what with the men coming in and choosing a girl to kidnap and r*pe and stuff; whereas the women are more soft and caring and nurturing and loving like Mahira Khan's character and Maula's moms, the one who gave her life for him and the one who raised him and was always worried about him and he treats her so badly. It's understandable that this is like a village situation and these are the roles they play but Mahira Khan being so blinded by her love for him and literally chasing him to love her was a little annoying after a point because she played no role other than just being in love with him. On the other hand, Humaima's character of a strong villain, even using her own sexuality to try to convince Maula was a refreshing change, especially with her fighting skills, strength and her confidence in her brother, above all, being crowned the head of the clan at one point was a beautiful subvert from the typical gender stereotypes shown in the rest of the movie. However, that all was undermined by her fear of her brother even though she seemed so fearless otherwise, and especially that despite her amazing fighting skills, she was killed so easily and used as a pawn in the game of the men.


Similarly, a strong portrayal of female strength was depicted in Dil Dhadakne Do, in which Priyanka Chopra's character was married off to a man she did not love and she ends up divorcing him. Though the families tried to bring up stereotypical ideas like how Ayesha shouldn't talk too much at the dinner table, or how she was such a business-minded woman and made it into a prestigious magazine like Forbes, simply because her husband 'allowed' her to work, how they would not stand for divorce and were trying to force their son to take over the business even though it was clear that he neither enjoyed it nor excelled at it; the film culminates with the two siblings finding their own way and clearing things out with their parents. Ayesha divorces her husband with the support of her parents and Kabir goes into what he loves to do - flying. The movie would have been a perfect subversion from typical film and media stereotypes of a happily ever after, if it weren't for Kabir's romantic arc with Anushka Sharma's character of Farah and Ayesha's possible romantic arc with her childhood love, Sunny. The idea of Ayesha and Sunny is simply implied, with Kabir telling Sunny that Ayesha was getting a divorce, which could go to show that Ayesha would eventually marry him, bringing into question her independence without needing a man, given that we expect that after her divorce she would explore the possibility of a romance with Sunny. In addition, the character of Noori is also shown as someone whose entire life was so destroyed by her fiance leaving her at the altar for another woman that her parents were eager to enter into a business deal with the Mehras on the possibility that she would marry Kabir, rather than Rana, whom she actually loved.


Finally, Disney's love for the portrayal of damsels in distress being rescued by princes (see: Snow White, Aurora, Cinderella, etc.) was always very clear, showing how the princesses were in miserable states before being reawakened and finally finding happiness with a man to rescue them. However, this idea was combated by the movie Lilo and Stitch, where a little alien becomes part of this broken family of two sisters who were trying to figure life out after the death of their parents and to stop Child Services from separating them. Firstly, several gender stereotypes were broken in that movie, with a female Grand Councilwoman having power over the entire Galactic Federation, with Nani being a strong, independent woman who continually refused the advances of her friend David in order to focus on her sister, and of course with the different makeup of the characters. Instead of the typically fair and traditionally beautiful princesses with slim frames, Nani and Lilo were darker and more exotically beautiful, with thicker-set frames and pudgier limbs. However, when we actually dig deep into the story, we realize that although it seems that the two sisters were able to get their happily ever after without any male involvement, it is important to remember that Stitch was the one who actually saved them, not just from the alien attackers who in fact were there for him, but also from the situation of Mr. Bubbles who wanted to take Lilo away, as well as the fact that although Nani was desperately looking for a new job to support her and her sister, it was David at the end of the movie who had found her the job, Although the happily ever after seemed to be their little family, aliens and all, it is implied that Nani and David did end up getting together, which undermines the whole idea that Nani did not need a man to take up her time when she was so focused on her little sister.


In conclusion, though many media forms are trying to shift away from traditional gender roles, they seem to continue to shine through in more subtle ways. Does it in fact mean that these stereotypes will never truly die? Or do we need some more time and education to fully erase them?

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Interesting read! I like how you mentioned Daro's character because personally for me, she was the most interesting person in the movie and I was rooting for her even though she was portrayed as a villain. As a leading woman in a clan dominated exclusively by men, she had so much potential, so the way they killed her off was very disappointing. I think it all ultimately boils down to who is writing these stories. There is very little room for fully subverting gender roles or doing justice to complex female characters in a movie about men written by men for men.

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Great analysis of gender stereotypes in films! The mention of movies like Maula Jatt, Dil Dhadakne Do, and Disney productions demonstrates both the efforts made to challenge these stereotypes as well as the underlying limitations that continue to exist. It's critical to acknowledge these situations and keep up the discussion about rejecting traditional gender stereotypes. We hope that these insightful observations help us spread the word about the need for more research and education in order to destroy these biases.

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