Netflix’s ‘Chaman Bahaar’ Review: Is It Promoting Male Gaze?

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Cast: Jitendra Kumar, Ritika Badiani, Alam Khan

Release Date: 19th June 2020

Director: Apurva Dhar Badgaiyann

Produced by: Yoodlee Films

Streaming Partner: Netflix

It’s unusual for a film to open with a deleted scene. It is even more unusual for it to be based on a wildly inappropriate premise that unfolds without a hint of irony; but somehow, Chaman Bahaar manages to do both.

Never in the history of cinema have we seen a movie begin with a deleted scene, towards the end filmmakers have provided us with shots that didn’t make the cut but never at the beginning. Chaman Bahaar begins on such a note. The film manages to combine a rather inappropriate premise with irony.

The previous film released by Yoodlee Films managed to hit the right note. Axone brought out racism in Delhi to the core and Chaman Bahaar was meant to deal with the deadly Male Gaze. Across the globe male gaze has been prominent prior to the first wave of feminism. It is a sensitive topic that needs to be dealt with carefully but Chaman Bahaar loses its points when it comes to treading on these waters.

             

‘Chaman Bahaar’ Review With Plot Lines

Billu played by Jitendra Kumar lives in a small town in India. He is a ‘panwadi’ and has recently opened a shop. To his bad luck, the location of his shop is in a nondescript locality. The landscape is barren and this does not welcome as many customers as he would like. Between two customers there is a gap of hours which proves to be a liability for him. His only solace lies in the company of his two friends who seem to be as jobless as him.

While the shade of grey begins to spread across Billu’s life it is as though God took some pity on him. A government employee and his family move into an empty bungalow right across the street. This sends the small town in frenzy. Everyone wants a glance at the new occupants. This brings a crowd to Billu’s shop on a regular basis. The crowd comprises of solely one gender, men.

 But they aren’t there to ask the government employee for favors or just out of curiosity but for the cheapest thing a man could do, stare blankly with eyes filled with lust. The problem is that none of them have any form of shame or guilt. Their eyes follow the man’s teenage daughter every single day.

It becomes a routine for the men of the village. Everyday when the young girl takes her dog and goes for a walk, eyes of tens of men follow her every stride. They all have strategic positions that helps them get the best view of the teenager. Billu’s business booms and he begins to get profits. But Billu’s shop gets termed as the ‘adda of laundabaazi’. His profits come at the cost of a young girl’s modesty.

But the buck doesn’t stop here. Like every other man, Billu too falls for the young girl. Her attractiveness drives him crazy and he swoons by her name. Like every other insane Indian man in love, Billu carves her initials on his skin as well as on a rock. We can’t figure which of the two are stupider. The young girl’s name is revealed, Rinku.

The worst part above the film is that it promotes male gaze and doesn’t shame it. The protagonist himself stares at Rinku for hours at end and marks her as his. She doesn’t even bother about his existence or even lead him on but in his crazy mind he has already made her his. Billu’s obsession makes him create situations that will take the other men away from her so that Rinku will only be his. He wants to obtain her and make her fall in love with her. The characters as well as the makers forgot there was a difference between both.

The other village men stop coming around and business drops for Billu. But he doesn’t seem to care. But the worst has not even begun yet, Rinku is a schoolgirl! A minor. Billu and those many men could be imprisoned for their acts but yet again the film does not disapprove of stalker -like behavior but encourages it.

It is shocking that an actor like Jeetendra Kumar who has always made smart choices when it comes to his characters could take on something like Billu. The character is outlandish and makes his case worse when he throws a stone on a dog with a pretext of saving Rinku.

The worst is that despite everything that the film promotes, Rinku somehow manages ending up with Billu. Is this the cinema we are promoting in 2020?

The film needed a lot of editing prior to its release. In times like these where the audience looks up to films, promoting male gaze and a woman bowing towards a man of this manner is absurd. Chaman Bahaar isn’t the romantic film it thinks it is but is a black mark on the progress of cinema and society.

Rating: 1.5/5

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