When I was in India in the summer of 2012, I was with a gaggle of white people who were looking for a movie to watch. I remember everyone watching a trailer for Rowdy Rathore and thinking it looked hilarious, and saying, “There’s literally nothing in the world that could get me to watch that film; see you when I get out of Shanghai.” They all regretted their decision, but, in retrospect, I wish I had gone with them. Shanghai was decent, but Rowdy Rathore became part of a movement. It brought Akshay Kumar into this new era of terrible male revenge fantasy films started by Salman Khan with Dabangg, and he hasn’t made a decent film since (…had he made a decent film before Rowdy? Answer: Jaani Dushman).
If you’re a woman or even just a person who vaguely believes women might be human beings, Rowdy Rathore
is painful to sit through. This film doesn’t even come close to passing the Bechdel Test
: There are three female characters, two of whom have seductive dance sequences, and none of whom speak a full sentence until the last 5 mins of the movie. One of the female characters appears in only 2 scenes, and in both scenes she is getting sexually harassed by the village head in a demonstration of how much power he has over the men in the village. The idea that the women, in addition to their husbands, could be affected by abduction, gang rape, and repeated public humiliation doesn’t even cross the filmmakers’ minds. Sonakshi, the female lead (read: eye candy), is seen *rewind* seen (<– that’s a literal rewind. It happens.), seen again *rewind* seen again, and then tricked into falling in love with the lead – and it totally works, no questions asked.
Still, if you can possibly look past all that (which might be impossible to do), Rowdy Rathore
is actually a really entertaining film. I completely understand why it did well in India: It appeals extremely well to this class of low-class, uneducated men who enjoy video games and hot girls. This film literally is some asshole guy just imagining the best possible things that could happen. I went to this amazing event
where we did an activity in which we were encouraged to take the thing that was stressing us out and write down, in detail, the best possible way that the situation could work out; I imagine Akshay’s character doing just that and ending up with Rowdy Rathore
: “I am walking down the street, and I see a hot girl. I literally rewind and replay it so I have time to finish jacking off. Then, I see her again, bust another one out real fast, and then impress her with my badass theiving skills by stealing her purse back from the guy who stole her purse. I have to deal with a stupid kid, sure, but I didn’t even have to get hitched or deal with pregnancy/infancy so it’s pretty cool, plus the kid is literally the most perfectly behaved kid that has ever existed. The kid actually teaches me how to like children, which gives me another in with this hot girl – who doesn’t ever talk; she just dances for me whenever I want. In fact, whenever I want to get her away from the kid, I literally just think of a place to go and we are instantly transported to there! Eventually I just punch a bunch of guys in the face and they die instantly and I win a fucking awesome fight scene. I mean, yeah, I get stabbed in the process – but then I just pull it out and get a badass scar and a knife to stab another guy with. I’ve just won the hearts of a whole village that now looks to me as their hero! #winning”
If you identify with the hero and live in his head throughout the entire film, Rowdy Rathore is fucking awesome. I wish I could live Rowdy Rathore out every day! Unfortunately, I can’t suspend my disbelief for long enough to fully appreciate it, because I have a vagina and a uterus AND a brain. I’m a woman AND I like to occasionally speak words, so this fantasy world and I are pretty much mutually exclusive.
My dislike for films like Rowdy Rathore
is as intense as my dislike for Batman, because I, living as myself, don’t want to live in some asshole male’s fantasy world – whether that asshole male is an arrogant billionaire in Gotham City or a badass police officer living in the middle of nowhere Rajasthan. If I were an asshole male, I would love these movies, but let’s be real – as a woman, I would constantly be held down in a world like that. Sonakshi’s only moment of speaking was when she was talking about how badass her male-protector was and how he would come and save her. The second most significant female character, the wife of the police officer, was literally raped just to enhance her husband’s emotional development. Any world in which that could happen isn’t something I can support, even if it is
just some asshole’s best case scenario fantasy world as presented in an otherwise relatively entertaining film.
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