What will our neighbor Sharma ji say? What will Neetu maasi think about you? Why can’t you just do what everyone does? Why can’t you be what everyone is or wants you to be?
Log Kya Kahenge (What Will People Think) is a social slogan in Urdu and Hindi used to create fear of public’s opinion on one’s personal life.
Being born in a middle class Indian household, these questions alway pop up. And it’s not that our parents don’t love us or want us to not be what we want to be. It’s just that, our parents are afraid. Afraid of what will happen to us unless we follow the social norm.
Funny thing is, in our country today, Sharma ji’s son is actually selling incense sticks after becoming an engineer or Neetu maasi’s daughter is working at a very underpaid job after completing her MBA.
Judging people is a speciality in Indian society, and used as a weapon that most aunties and uncles have mastered.
Judging people on basis of their skin colour is okay, but discrimination on the basis of race is illegal. Sex education is india is illegal, but our sosciety is absolutely okay with overpopulation. A happy live-in relationship is taboo, but turning a blind eye on a toxic marriage is the social norm. Joking about the LGBTQIA+ community is perfectly okay, whereas, masturbating to gay or lesbian porn is is fun. They’ll preach human rights in high places, but they are the same people who mock people with disabilities.
Talking about mental health is frowned upon, and only a lucky few actually have the access to good mental health facilities. I’m lucky to be a part of those lucky few, but the rest are just vulnerable to the knives of society and their phrase “log kya kahenge”? This ancient system to keep mental health a hush hush needs to die like dowry.
Two people of different sex is spotted by an auntie from her terrace, and her degenerate mkind is running through all the different possibilities, some of which would be that they are dating, or eloping, and etc. But that doesn’t stop at that. She will then complain to their families, and unfortunately, the family will totally agree with her.
Family members would often push their children to the brink and there are a few, very good examples from a few Bollywood movies. But, for the sake of this article, I’ll talk about
First would have to be Farhaan and his family in the movie “3 Idiots”, based on the book by Chetan Bhagat. The movie shows a saddened Farhaan studying Engineering, even though he knows in his heart that he is a good photographer. But this is where Sharma ji’s high income son comes into play, and on the day of his job interview, he gets a letter from his favourite photographer, agreeing on letting him intern with him. This flares up his father, but then Farhaan explains how he’d rather blame himself for the rest of his life for failing at this thing that he wants, than working a job he’d hate and blame his parents for it, his entire life. Finally his father understands when he says that Sharmaji didn’t put an Ac in his room so that he could study in peace. It was his father who did it. So he doesn’t care what others think of him, and only cares about what his parents think about him. Finally, his father understands and agrees on it with a broad smile on his face.
Next example would have to be Ved’s character from the film Tamasha, beautifully portrayed by Ranbir Kapoor. His situation is kinda like Farhaan, but in his case, he is already working a job, and, in a way, he is the robot of our society, until Tara, portrayed by Deepika Padukone comes into his life and shows him who he really is. He wanted to be a writer and theatre director, and he finally takes the leap of faith by the end of the film, with a story that he tells his parents, and like the previous example, it ends on a happy note.
But this is not the case for most of the people. All of the above happens, only leaving out the happy ending.
In an interview with Ranbir kappor, a member of the team AIB (All India Bakchod), talked about how while watching tamasha, he spotted people crying when Ranbir finally does what he wants to do, and that’s when it hits him, that he isn’t crying. The reason being, he was already doing what he loved, but the sheer amount of people crying, were stuck in a loop, unfortunately, not of their own making.
There was a very good article on TheWire which gave an insight of the psychological and emotional effects of the Log Kya Kahenge syndrome, which I’d urge all of you to read.People should know that mental health should be taken seriously and should not be joked about.
There is a reason why the log kya kahenge syndrome is so prevalent in our society. The simplest answer I can think of is that we live close to each other, and have inherited the amazing gene of not being able to mind our own business. We are the aforementioned “log” who make others feel self-conscious, and this needs to stop, as we aren’t God. We aren’t allowed to make another person feel uncomfortable.
In conclusion, this kind of thinking is what is pushing our society back into the dark ages, and this needs to die down.
So next time someone uses this phrase, don’t give them the satisfaction of acknowledging it.