How many kinds of stalkers are there?

Monsters as Romeos encouraging mothers The psychology behind stalking in cinemaYouTube
Blog Stalking Saturday, October 29, 2016 - 16:35

“If she refuses at once, don’t give up, try again and again”, “Don’t take no for an answer”, “Yours is the truest love”, “Show her what a madman you are and she will be yours.”…

A series of such thoughts rattle in the heads of those who the law terms as stalkers and the cinema, Romeos.

In the course of one year between 2014 and 2015, the cases filed under ‘stalking’ mounted 33% following the addition of 345D (IPC). A couple days ago, another woman, a 34-year-old beautician was viciously stabbed to death by a stalker on a busy Gurgaon metro station. The man had been allegedly trying to court her for months but in vain, reports said.

The growing plight of healthy activism that has gushed out to battle the “fantasy world” of Tamil cinema which glorifies stalking as a courtship method, is doing an enormous favor to the society. 

This petition by a drama researcher, Ishwarya is being passed along as a significant move.

Along with opposing the sugar coated acceptance of such belligerent acts of harassment, one should also make an attempt to understand it through the lens of psychology.

There are plenty of research articles that have succeeded in categorizing stalkers according to their adapted behavior.


An Australian court in 2014 set free a convicted NRI who was accused of stalking 2 women with a mere comprehension of his mistakes attributed to the nature of Bollywood films.

Reports said, he just couldn’t believe that his actions can be held accountable for a criminal activity.

When an adaptation of a menacing behaviour can be so rigidly deceiving, it becomes a widely accepted persona.

Albert Bandura’s social learning theory is an explanation to this. It suggests that through observational learning we impersonate the behaviour of a ‘model’ who can be anyone we look up to.

A successful display of a particular behaviour is followed by a reward which is called ‘vicarious reinforcement’. It is when we observe these ‘models’ being rewarded for displaying that behaviour, eventually resulting in us doing the same. Yes, the “reward” here is the fictional acceptance of a proposal by the woman, which he hopes to get after an extensive amount of harassment. This is where the films propagate an evil delusion.

From a majority of 60 to 80% stalkers who are men, comes 5 important classifications that were evaluated by a team of forensic psychiatrists led by the expert Prof. Paul Mullen after assessing stalkers who were under criminal jurisdiction. Unsurprisingly, every one of these traits can be illustrated through at least one character from Indian films. While reading the illustrations, keep in mind that the female characters in these films are forced to accept the love because the script says so, which is NOT REAL.

Rejected Stalker – After a clear rejection from a newly approached person or an ex, the rejected stalker pursues his act with a combination of desire and retaliation.

Sometimes being violent and “loving” at the same time, he is one of the dangerous ones. Kundan (Dhanush) from Ranjhana was a rejected stalker as he endlessly harassed (both mentally and physically) Zoya (Sonam Kapoor) until she gave up and accepted him. The only reason she rejects him is because of religious differences. That’s the filmmaker’s ignorant cover up for you.

Resentful stalker – Resentful simply means irritated. A resentful stalker is an offended loner who feels humiliated and mistreated by the people he had approached.

This often includes proposals for love, friendship, or intimate relationships. Prone to mental illness and paranoid beliefs the real life characteristics of this type are savage and vicious.

However, to sustain romance in the story, a compromised innocence is what is used to derail the viewers.

When the character of Rahul (Shahrukh Khan) in the film Darr became famous it was actually praised for his “unconditional love” for Kiran (Juhi Chawla) which was truer and more passionate than her actual suitor Sunil (Sunny Deol). Darr took resentful stalking to new heights and eventually also resulted in the abduction of a 24-year-Delhi girl whose stalker was inspired by none other than this film.


Intimacy Seeker– The booming business of stalking-induced films thrives on this trait. The furious desire of having a successful romantic relationship is what drives this kind to “reach out” to his acquaintances or even complete strangers. The stalker believes that they are already in a relationship and every bit of his stalking owes the returned expressions of love by the woman. Negative responses are misinterpreted and even a mere recognition of rejection can turn the person into a threatening entity.

Tamil cinema never runs out of this one. The Tamil blockbuster Anniyan aced in this depiction. Apparently the protagonist (Vikram) suffers from MPD and in most of his personalities he is a romance-hungry stalker. The recently released film Remo which has got people (including kids) storming the theatres of South is another champion in glorifying the intimacy seeking stalker.

In reality, this also happens to be the group which is most unresponsive towards law enforcement. Getting caught is the “price of true love”.


Incompetent stalker– Socially impaired and intellectually limited, this includes those who desire a romantic relationship but aren’t able to use “smart” persuasion techniques as the others. Repeated phone calls and continuous physical harassments are some of the usual behaviours. Research says an incompetent stalker usually stalks for a short period of time and stops when confronted with legal action, but our heavily competent field of cinema can straighten a dog’s tail if they want to fit it into a pipe.

Ajay (Amir Khan) in Deewana Mujhsa Nahi, Vijay (Shah Rukh Khan, YES! he did it two times) in Anjaam and Ranbir (Ranbir Kapoor) in Sawariya are some of these cute bullies who stalked women to claim their love using clumsy methods but turned all wise when confronted.

Predatory Stalker– As the term goes, the only motive of this stalker is to sexually assault the victim or killing her. It comes from utilizing the stereotypical power of one social role over another. Often having to suffer from paraphilias, these stalkers usually have a history of sex offenses. In films, thankfully predatory stalking is not an adapted scenario but despite that we still have them around.

The “mothers” in these man-made stalking films:

A lot of you might remember this, there is an old Tamil film, Singaravelan which shows how even an on-screen parental love can bring out the ultimate misogynistic stalker in you. Velan (Kamal Hassan) sets out to marry Sumathi (Khusboo) after his mother expresses it being her (and dad’s) only wish.

This 2 hours of silver screen harassment shows how makers (almost all male) use the emotion induced motivation of motherly love to execute all sorts of stalking. In the film Shivaji, the whole family stalks and coerces the girl’s family to get their daughter to marry him. Even in the latest film Remo that claims to be based on ‘pure love’ hasn’t bothered to give the good ol’ brain to churn out any creativity in this aspect. And this list is endless.

Films are articulated and so is the stalking that is portrayed in them. It can shift from the male protagonist posing as a rejected stalker, and end up becoming the resentful one to a predatory stalker later transforming into a romance seeker.

An honest and accurate film about stalking made in an Indian context will end with either murder of the victim, sexual abuse or her collapsed mental state. Instead, we see that these films set a shocking level of expectation and cause secondary damage by involving law and order departments as props to their anguish.

The importance of looking at stalking from an aspect of research erupts from the need of undermining the lightheartedness attached to it. But none of it prevents the beloved filmmakers from augmenting something that has sexually assaulted and killed women.

Arguments like “Times are changing now” or “It’s just romance” or “My love is pure” do not have a ground here when the effects of stalking in real life involve no lovey-dovey but a series of depression, trauma, anxiety disorder, PTSD, and death. 

People who decide that films like Remo which apparently are “safe” for children are only a click away from finding out what a chaos they are partaking in. As for the rest of us, let’s just wait more. We do not have enough Swathis and Pinkis already.

This article first appeared on Women Making Films and has been reproduced here.

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