Veere Di Wedding blatantly claims 'I am not a chick flick'; is the disclaimer for those who consider it a brain-dead genre?

Antara Telang

Apr 30, 2018 11:07:56 IST

When I was around 16, the Twilight series suddenly became a sensation. Girls around me walked around clutching the books to their chests, animatedly arguing about whether it was Edward who was better or Jacob, and setting boyfriend goals before hashtags were even a thing. Simultaneously, boys around us wearing football jerseys were deriding us for liking something that was obviously just “stupid chick lit” (by the way, they had never read a page of anything that would remotely qualify as being in that genre). And sure, maybe we outgrew Twilight soon enough, but chick lit (and by extension, chick flicks) have always been an important part of our lives well into adulthood, while the men who still have not outgrown their football jerseys yet continue to turn up their noses at us. That is why I felt quite slighted when I saw the trailer of Veere Di Wedding yesterday very blatantly branding itself with the hashtag #imnotachickflick.

Veere Di Wedding blatantly claims I am not a chick flick; is the disclaimer for those who consider it a brain-dead genre?

Sumeet Vyas and Kareena Kapoor Khan in a still from Veere Di Wedding. YouTube

When I watched the Veere Di Wedding trailer, I was actually really quite excited. A Bollywood film about female friends talking unabashedly about love, sex, and dhokha? Women putting their relationships with each other above those they had with the men in their lives? A poster which does not feature a single man and a trailer where the first real glimpse of a male face and dialogue is a distant 43 seconds into it? Really. Quite. Excited.

Unfortunately, though, my trailer-watching experience was marred by the fact that it happened on Twitter, the place where being female is synonymous with being trolled, and dreams are regularly crushed as casually and cruelly as a cigarette butt. A majority of the venomous tweets came, predictably, from the right-wingers who were heavy at work asking everyone to boycott the movie because of its actresses decrying the Kathua rape inside a temple (getting into this is another ridiculous story for another ridiculous day). The rest came from regular people who were busy dissing the film for being a copy of Sex and the City (I mean, hello, if it has four women in lead roles, what other story could it POSSIBLY have?!) or bashing “fake feminists” for cursing liberally in the trailer. On one hand, they were digging out birthday posts to shame the actors, on the other, they were editing the post to suit the "bimbos" in it.

 

What is it about literature, be it films or movies, centred around a group of women talking about their real lives that puts men off so much? That makes it feel like it is irrelevant to their real lives? That makes women themselves brush it off as a “guilty pleasure”? That makes the big decision makers mass release it around Valentine’s Day? Moreover, I fail to understand how romance or family has become the sole domain of “chicks” (many of whom are well into their 30s and 40s, just by the way) when nearly all romantic comedies are directed by men. I do not think I have met a single woman who has dismissed films like Dil Chahta Hai or Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara which focus on male friendships, as “d**k flicks” – so why does it work the other way around?

It would seem that it was not only the filmmakers but also the audience that is eager to distance themselves from a movie that could broadly be classified as a chick flick. Here is the thing – I think it is far easier for us to be dismissive of a category just because it is largely made by and about women, and just because it focuses on issues that are apparently a women’s domain, like romance, marriage and family. When Salman Khan cusses in a trailer, we hardly call him a fake chauvinist – we all know he is a real one and it seldom pisses any of us off as much as it should. When Ranbir Kapoor’s character in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani proudly says he does not believe in all this settling down and the shaadi business, we laugh along with him and slap his metaphorical back for being a true bro. But when Kareena Kapoor Khan does the same things, what is it that raises our hackles so much and makes us so averse to watching a movie like this?

Of course, there were Twitter users (women, of course) who were excited about the movie and pointed out this hypocrisy too. It has been a long and arduous history of us distancing ourselves from chick lit unless we are with our (female or non-male) besties, I think it is high time that we stopped lumping Charlotte Brontë and Meg Cabot in the same category. Dismissing women’s narratives – their experiences, their relationships, their problems and their solutions – as frivolous, and dismissing the women who enjoy consuming those narratives as stupid, plays into the same old patriarchal mould we have been fighting since time immemorial. If men fear chick flicks more than horror movies, that is their problem. I say we reclaim the narrative, proudly market movies as chick flicks and call out someone’s sexism if the only reason they do not want to watch these movies is because they cannot bear women having that much screen time. Sorry, not sorry.

Updated Date: Apr 30, 2018 11:07:56 IST