Violence against women and domestic abuse is now just a ratings gimmick

As soon as the trailer of Syed Noor’s next film ‘Chain Aye Na” was released, social media was abuzz with hilarious comments, memes and jokes about the movie.

With ‘sacrifice’, ‘betrayal’ ‘irreversible hate’ ‘lovely melody’ and ‘timeless love’, the film also promotes violence against women, glorifies abusive relationships, encourages stalking and emotional manipulation and normalises a culture of non-consent.

The movie revolves around a guy who is convinced that the girl who is already engaged and he are meant to be. He pesters their mutual friends to their obvious discomfort for her number and follows her to her city, to her home and then, to her very bedroom. At each point, she repeats “NOT INTERESTED” first amicably, then sternly and finally with wrath. The guy’s sole response each time is, You are mine.

Driven to a breaking point, the girl finally lashes out and slaps him twice. But then things take a turn. The guy slaps her back thrice and threatens to knock her down. Because tum meri ho?

We are shocked that Shahroze Sabzwari chose to make his film debut as an abusive stalker. We kept waiting for the film to reveal that Shahroze Sabzwari suffered from psychological issues, because that is really the only way to explain his behaviour. Unfortunately, that moment never came, and we realised that to Sabzwari and the rest of the cast Rayan is a perfectly acceptable romantic hero.

This lack of self-awareness, mirrored by every single member of the cast, is deeply shocking.

Stories like that of Chain Aye Na have conditioned a generation of men in Pakistan, India and wherever else to not take no as an answer in their romantic pursuits. By conflating stalking, harassment and obsession with love, such films send a message that this behaviour is not just acceptable, but even admirable.