Dear Filmmakers: Stalking is not Romantic

Baahubali is the most expensive Indian film ever made: The two-part work cost $40 million to make. Its investors don't need to worry, though. After its release in June, Baahubali swiftly broke all Indian box office records, earning $50 million. As Forbes notes, "That makes it the most successful opening in the history of India’s prolific, multi-language film industry which makes over a thousand films each year."

Unfortunately, like many South Indian films, it centers on an aggressive male hero. Baahubali is billed as an action-adventure romance, an epic drama about two warring brothers and a rebellious warrior woman who is trying to free a queen from prison. At its center is a story of the hero—a man who stalks and sexually harasses the female warrior until he breaks her spirit and independence. She is the leader of a powerful guerilla rebel group. But when she tries to fight off his romantic advances, he disrobes her, gives her a makeover, and in about the span of a minute, makes her fall in love with him! From then on, she is not a warrior anymore. Yep—this is the stuff of cinema gold.

Despite its popularity, the film has garnered some criticism, including from the Indian pop culture blog The Ladies Finger. “The heroic alpha male wins through constant pressure, sabotage, shows of strength,” writes critic Vivekananda Nemana. “Need I even mention the implications for real life street harassment and stalking?”

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