This article explores how women are constructed as a ‘space’ manufactured by men to seek comfort, but void of having any active agency or participation in that space itself. I seek to bring this out in this article by drawing a parallel between the nineteenth century ‘Bharat Mata’ (Mother India) and the depiction of the twenty-first century ‘heroine’ in Bollywood movies.
While sex workers face repeated harassment by the police, many young couples face threats in a one-off incident if the police finds them with their partner/lover. They may face police surveillance of expressions of intimacy and affection in public.
The plot of the movie narrates the tale of the love that grows between two people who are struggling to survive in a world of rootlessness and are continuing to make a cosy home for themselves. The love between Madhu, who works as a food delivery boy, and Puti, who survives by singing at traffic signals, blossoms while they cross paths everyday at the traffic signal and the look that they exchange appears to us as if each of them is trying to find a home in the other.
But what has been amazing to witness is how quickly young women in particular, took to the ideas of Why Loiter? and pushed them even further, creating new movements to expand women’s rights to the public, including the right to be out late at night, to stretch the curfew at women’s hostels, to demand extended access to women’s toilets, to public transport etc.
In theory, the concept of the app is a great one – it provides women, queer people, and people belonging to oppressed castes the tea-stall, cigarette-shop type of public spaces for conversation that are available to upper-caste cis het men. The relative anonymity acts like a safe cover, and the app affords a certain autonomy and agency to marginalised people to regulate the kind of conversation that goes on in rooms moderated by them.