5 Reasons Why Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya is the Ultimate Love Anthem

“Why be afraid when you are in love?” is what Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya literally translates to. It appears in the iconic film Mughal-e-Azam which was released in 1960 after 14 years of production. Here’s why it might just as well be termed as India’s song of defiance.

1. It defies persistent gender roles

Gender, as Judith Butler (1960) contends, is constructed through a set of repeated performances. The dance by Madhubala’s Anarkali serves the male gaze appropriately- you will find the camera focusing on her many a time during the sequence. However, Anarkali does not shy away from this gaze. She confronts it and this is a major point of departure from what would otherwise be expected out of a woman of her times in India. She liberates herself from the framework of gender that she operates in.

2. A symbol for LGBT rights movement

Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya has now become a slogan for the emergent LGBT (Lesbian, Gay,Bisexual, Transgender) rights movement in India. It is an anthem about the triumph of love across social boundaries. The song surpasses time and space. It has gained significance as a form of protest voiced by more than an Anarkali. Madhubala’s Kathak is today a symbol of love against conservative forces. It is not long before this song can be an effective answer to those who are so worried about love-jihad.

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A line from the song on a poster for Rainbow Walk on Delhi Road. Image Source

 

3. A Drag Queen of sorts?

A drag queen is a man who ostentatiously dresses up in women’s clothes. Going by queer theory, a male drag queen in stylizing normative femininity simultaneously deconstructs it too. Madhubala’s drag queen not only challenges dominant discourses of power contained within a patriarchal nation-state, but she also threatens the discourses on sexualization of the body. She is aware of her class, religion, nationality and gender, yet she chooses to digress from the destiny paved for her.

Like all women who do this, her demise in the tale is also not very surprising. The song is that struggle for the identity of the subaltern which keeps returning to the Bollywood celluloid.

4. Anarkali is a brave subaltern

She is a courtesan. She is Muslim and what’s worse is that she is a woman. In short, she embodies all that you would not like to be in a royal setup comprising men during the Mughal period in India. Salim had, in fact, just before the performance, accused her of being a bujdil laundi (cowardly slave). A play of power recurs through the song-and-dance performance but even that fails to deter the spirit of love in the status of a subaltern that Anarkali finds herself in. She is a woman with little agency dancing across an empire’s patriarch.

5. The sequence reflects India’s tryst with destiny

Anarkali’s performance for the court can be compared to Bollywood’s performance for Jawaharlal Nehru. The movie Mughal-e-Azam opens with a baritone proclaiming, “I am Hindustan”. The then Hindustan was associated with sentiments different from those it now is. The film was made during India’s period of nation-building. Despite being set in the Mughal period, the sequence vividly portrays what was despised by the nationalist elites of post-colonial India- films (they were equated with gambling). What is now called the Golden Age of Indian cinema was then not a cakewalk for the film industry because it used to be regarded more as a perversion or disruption to advancement than as a form of cultural expression. This hurdle is encountered by Anarkali as well.


The song is a breakthrough from several dominant social norms. This does not make it any less appealing to the masses. It enthralls audiences all the same despite being as revolutionary as it is. This is what makes it the ultimate love anthem.

Do share if you find any other reason why this song-and-dance should be called so.

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First Married Trans Woman to create platform for LGBTQ+ in Kolkata

“Some of us sing well, some can dance, some can act while others can paint. We face more social handicap than those from mainstream society. I am nobody. We are together Troyee,” Shree told me over phone. She used to be a dancer but had to quit dancing because of personal problems. She won’t let this happen to others from the community.

The LGBTQ+ community is going to get ‘Troyee’, a special platform in Kolkata to showcase their talents, thanks to 23-year-old Shree Ghatak Muhury, the first trans woman in Kolkata to socially marry her partner.

“We are trying to create a work environment for the community- an environment which we were not provided with,” said Shree, who is a thespian.

With the help of Titas Das and Shuchanda Lahiri, Shree aims to motivate LGBTQ+ people to earn a livelihood through exhibitions, theatre, film production and several other lines of work. Besides, Troyee will guide members to seek financial aid to pursue their dreams.

Shree, who has undergone sex reassignment surgery last month, wishes to get legally married in 2017.

I wanted to get this story published in the newspaper while interning with Hindustan Times. My colleagues helped me find Shree’s contact details.

This is a story- not the kind that you read and forget about.This is a revolution- not the kind where one disrupts the quotidian. This revolution does not yell; it silently adorns with stars the path for posterity.

MINGLE (Mission for Indian Gay and Lesbian Empowerment), a Mumbai-based LGBTQ advocacy organization revealed earlier this year that more than half of those surveyed from the community claimed that they were not covered by discrimination policies at workplace. Forty percent of them were often or sometimes subject to sexual harassment at workplace, simply owing to their sexualities.

Troyee will address such issues, as well as rescue those from the community who are compelled to become sex workers or beggars after being rejected by the society.

With some businesses like Bar Stock Exchange in Mumbai and New Delhi’s Hauz Khas Village deciding to debar gay couples last week, this initiative of economic empowerment is expected to not just culturally, but also economically add value to India through the ‘Pink Rupee’ while the nation is still recovering from the adverse effects of demonetisation.

The team will seek government aid if required. It intends to approach for help West Bengal Transgender Welfare Board headed by Sashi Panja, minister of women and child welfare development.

If one follows the recent turn of events, it is not difficult to discern that ours is a society which still largely prefers to shut those like Shree, out of our civilised water-tight compartments. We need more Shree’s so that another Manabi in future would not have to quit what she deserves.

I have noticed even members of the educated elite being unable to discern the difference between a transgender and a transsexual. I shall explain this difference in as less didactic a manner as possible.

Transsexuals are people who transition from one sex to another. While sex has got to do with the body, gender is a social construction which develops in the mind. Transgender, unlike transsexual, is a term for people whose identity, expression, behavior, or general sense of self does not conform to what is usually associated with the sex they were born in the place they were born.