In the recently released Rowdy Rathore, the hero (Akshay Kumar), who is a petty thief, admits as much to the girl (Sonakshi Sinha) he has fallen in love with at first sight. In the old tradition of Bollywood leading ladies, she doesn’t do anything, and doesn’t seem to mind that the man she will marry (in films, you fall in love, you marry!) is a thief. Even though he promises to go straight, he doesn’t actually show any such inclination; and towards the end of the films, she boasts to the villain of her man being a rowdy, who will beat the gang of baddies, as if that were a badge of honour. (These days, maybe it is.)
Times may have changed outside of the Bollywood screen, but in films, girls even today are not particularly discriminating about the men they fall for, and there is no justification for their desperation. Pretty, educated girls have no men interested in them till the hero comes along. In fact, the men don’t even have to do anything to impress the girl, except flip at one glance as she walks towards him in slow motion (for better impact) and then go on to stalk her till she falls right back. Not one of then gets alarmed and calls the cops. And not one asks about the guy’s workplace, family or friends.
In another recent film, Jannat 2, the leading lady is a doctor, yet she responds to overtures from a man (Emraan Hashmi), who is clearly a roughneck. He tells her he has a business and she shows no curiosity about his work, though she accepts the money he gives her for a charitable hospital without once asking how he came by it. In Vicky Donor, the guy (Ayushmann Khurana) just lands up at the bank where the girl (Yami Gautam) works and woos her in crude Delhi style, and soon she gives in, for no reason but that he is the leading man of the film, with no ostensible source of income, but some vague ‘business’.
This has been more or less the state of romance in Hindi film, when the girl has no choice but to fall in love with the man who falls for her, and expresses it in borderline threatening ways. In the old days, the rich girl was constantly falling in love with a poor guy, but at least he was in some honest profession, even it was lowly like a driver or garage mechanic. This called for the classic scene of the dressing-gowned, pipe smoking dad offering the poor suitor a blank cheque to give up his daughter. The hero would have the decency to be outraged and tear it up. One suspects, if this scene were to be written today, Ermraan Hashmi would pick up the cheque and the girl, or worse, the cheque over the girl.