Before I was introduced to this course on gender representations in media, I was a diehard fan of the feel-good movie, Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani Hai Deewani. Not to say that I do not like it anymore; but this one course that I took, was an eye-opener for me. Now when I watch it, I'm aware of what I'm feeding my brain and I have a better understanding of what are some problematic aspects of it.
The film revolves around the lives of four friends: Bunny, Naina, Avi, and Aditi. The film explores their journey of self-discovery, love, and friendship. Bunny, a free-spirited young man, aspires to travel the world and is reluctant to commit to a serious relationship. Naina, a studious and introverted girl, starts developing feelings for Bunny during a trekking trip with their friends. However, their paths diverge as Bunny follows his dreams, leaving Naina heartbroken. Years later, they reunite at Aditi's wedding, where unresolved emotions resurface. Naina realizes her love for Bunny, but he is torn between his ambitions and his feelings for her. The film beautifully portrays their emotional conflicts, growth, and the importance of cherishing relationships.
To begin with, Naina is seen as an ambitious woman who wishes to become a doctor, and Bunny who was rather careless, is seen as more ambitious towards the end. Whereas Naina waits for Bunny for 8 years, without any signs of the clinic that she was so passionate about (toxic getaway: men are always more successful and more ambitious than women)
Throughout Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Bunny jokes about his casual relationships and condemns marriage but gets immensely jealous and insecure when Naina is meeting Vikram, implicating that what is acceptable for a man is not acceptable for a woman. While men can fool around and “have fun”, women are supposed to be coy. While men can afford to have huge ambitions, women can only be subjugated.
Moreover, dissecting some dialogues, reveals how problematic mindsets are fed. When Naina vents to her mother for never enjoying her life properly, her mother bluntly says “Jawan larkiyaan zyada enjoy karlain to pregnant hou jati hain”, revealing the twisted mindset of society. Victim blaming, double standards, shaming, and shaming are at their peak. It reinforces a problematic narrative regarding women's sexuality and reproductive choices.
There are several instances where sexism and objectification are layered into the plot of Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani. However, it is important to be aware of the narratives we consume and the impact they leave on our daily lives.