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Chaman Bahar and the memories of being called ‘Maal’

The new Netflix movie - Chaman Bahar - brought back so many bitter memories and reignited those buried fears. Those boys at the corner shops, college roundabouts and tea vendors, who would just ‘tease’ girls to pass time. Anu Shakti Singh shares her reflections with Love Matters India.

I saw Chaman Bahar over the weekend. Oh, how the memories came rushing!  

The crowd at the corner ration shop.

The romeos hanging about at the cold drinks shop after school.

The piercing gaze from seniors sitting across the college gate.

 The neighbourhood boys, always hanging about in the balcony, no matter what time you rolled up those curtain blinds.

 Outside the hostel, in Bharat Nagar, I would feel as if I had been renamed ‘Maal’. 

When I moved out of the neighbourhood, in frustration, the new locality came with a new name – ‘Massakali’,

The shop next door was almost a meditating ground for good-for-nothing loafers. The moment you stepped out, they would start crooning.

Perhaps the boys think girls like being called out like this. To clarify once and for all. No, we do not like it.

The moment you realise, someone’s following you, or calling you ‘Maal’ or ‘Massakali’, the heart starts beating fast.  

Instead of getting scared, I believe in answering back. Yet, I just walk fast and move away. I feel most girls feel tongue-tied at such moments.

 This fear is not just in the moment. It walks along for life.

 Do you know, a 2018 study says that nearly 50 percent Indian girls stop going to school after eleventh class?A big factor in all this is this tailing behind, this harassment, this ‘eve-teasing’.  

Chaman Bahar is an eye-opener. It shows how a criminal act has been normalised in our society. How girls turn from human-beings into objects worth acquiring. How a man who cannot measure up to a girl in terms of merit, wants rights over her, just because he is man.

How does a man put blame for his own mistakes on an innocent woman and tries to punish her? The way Billu – the paan shop keeper – tries to defame Rinku.

Yes, the script could have been tighter, direction a bit better but the film is carried well by its actors. Female lead Rinku does not have a single dialogue and that is the beauty of the film.

How clearly can one communicate, when emotions do the talking, this comes out brilliantly through Rinku’s expressions.

Jitendra Kumar has been brilliant in yet another act. After Panchayat, this is his second great work in succession.

Do you have any memories of being 'eve-teased'? Share with Love Matters (LM) on our Facebook page. If you have a specific question, please ask LM experts on our discussion forum.

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