When all else fails, you can always blame Bollywood.
At least that is what an Indian man accused of stalking women in Australia did in a court in Tasmania last week.
Sandesh Baliga, a 32-year-old security guard, said he learned from Bollywood movies that relentlessly pursuing women was the only way to woo them.
Baliga, who grew up in a remote, rural part of India,moved to Australia to study accounting and said he loved to watch Bollywood movies. In Australia, he was accused of stalking two women -- one for 18 months in 2012, and another for four months in 2013 -- by repeatedly calling, texting and approaching them. He even called himself their “boyfriend.”
In court, Baliga pleaded guilty and said the male leads in Bollywood movies always got the women to say yes by doggedly chasing them. His lawyer, Greg Barns, said in court that this was “quite normal behavior” for Indian men.
In the end, court magistrate Michael Hill accepted the argument that Baliga’s cultural background had influenced his behavior and let him go on the condition of good behavior for the next five years.
Indian women's activist @kavita_krishnan tweeted:
— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) January 29, 2015
In the unprecedented national uproar in India that followed the fatal gang rape of a young woman in a moving bus in 2012, many have questioned the rampant misogyny in Bollywood movies. The male protagonist is routinely shown harassing, chasing and forcing women to admit their love in the movies.
Some movie stars have spoken against it as well.
Since the protest over the 2012 gang rape, movie actor Farhan Akhtar even began an campaign called MARD (Men Against Rape and Discrimination) and enlisted other stars. In his television chat show, actor Aamir Khan recently said that he was ashamed to have acted in movies that demean women.