Netflix's recent release Mrs Serial Killer has been making headlines for the bad reviews and netizens dissing filmmaker Shirish Kunder and actress Jacqueline Fernandez. However, as someone who watched the movie as soon as it released, at first, purely for entertainment, I was shocked to see a film starring leading actors give in to stereotypes about women.
Mrs Serial Killer released on a giant online streaming platform like Netflix, is produced by filmmaker Farah Khan Kunder, and stars actress Jacqueline Fernandez in the titular role (aka Sona Mukerjee). But apparently, none of them stopped to think if they were sending a wrong message to the audience.
Let Me Explain
Mrs Serial Killer talks about a male gynaecologists' prejudice towards women who are pregnant out of wedlock. Dr. Mrityunjoy ‘Joy' Mukerjee (Manoj Bajpayee) shows signs of being a psychopath. He was abandoned by his mother, who gave birth to him out of wedlock. It leads to him believing that all unwed women are floozies and that he needs to protect the babies born to them by separating them from their mothers before they are abandoned in the cruel world. He goes on to kill these women under the pretext of arranging a meeting with God, who according to him will then punish them.
There is no doubt that the filmmakers of Mrs Serial Killer wanted to make it clear that this character is crazy and none of what he believes in is right.
The Problem Begins Here...
The Netflix film plays around with the idea of a liberal and open society only when it fits the plot, and just as quickly abandons it when convenient. We see characters in and out of relationships, an older character married to a younger woman, towns-people and the law standing up for these missing girls and dead unwed pregnant women. We also have a scene where a female taekwondo instructor tells a guy that she will protect him.
On the other hand, we have leading characters saying dialogues like a 'woman visiting a gynaecologist is odd because she is unmarried', and a boyfriend abandoning his girlfriend because she is pregnant, as if it were only her fault! She then attempts to commit suicide because she is ashamed.
Confusing The Audience
Mrs Serial Killer also plays a lot with the film's genre. There is horror, thriller and drama, but most of all, every other scene has a comic aspect, which makes it harder for the audience to understand if the filmmaker is serious about the message it shares. Are these dialogues and plot points out of sarcasm, is it a black comedy, or are you taking it seriously?
The audience is getting smarter day-by-day, and more exposure means you can talk about films openly. But for the majority, the takeaway from Mrs Serial Killer would still be the same: "So women only visit a gynaecologist if they are pregnant?" Because the entire premise of Mrs Serial Killer is based on that misconception.
It is not just that one dialogue said by Mohit Raina's character Inspector Imran Shahid, but earlier in the film, we also see Jacqueline make a copy of a gynaecologist's patient list and say, "I hope at least one of you have been naughty!" She calls all three patients asking if they are married or not, and not if they are pregnant at all.
Who Are Gynaecologists?
After Googling the question, because we now believe everything we read and see on the Internet, the answer I got was, "Gynaecologists are doctors who specialize in women's health, with a focus on the female reproductive system. They deal with a wide range of issues, including obstetrics, or pregnancy and childbirth, menstruation and fertility issues, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), hormone disorders, and others."
That answer is true, but most of the audience will not Google or cross-check the misinformation they have been passed on to by the film that they just watched. They then, will continue to believe and spread the misconception, unaware of the prejudice they are creating.
Dear Mrs Serial Killer Team
Women married or unmarried anywhere around the world visit gynaecologists for a number of reasons, not just because they are pregnant! Letting stereotypical thinking like this appear on a platform like Netflix only makes it worse for women who want to make their health a priority. It is also bound to make other women and young girls be afraid to talk about their health concerns and visit doctors.
I would like to remind our female readers and film viewers, there is nothing wrong about visiting your gynaecologist on a regular basis. If you want to understand your body or have health concerns, please visit a gynaec, and do not worry about those judgemental eyes.
Dialogues and stories like these need to be done right, which is also why we need more women on the writing team and on sets. Unfortunately, we had several women be part of Mrs Serial Killer, including the director's wife/producer, and still, an issue like this made the final cut.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are that of the author's.