This is just weird on so many different levels. I’m sure when you read this whole article, your first thought will be “How is that even possible?” So, here’s the story. The stalker – 32-year old security guard, Sandesh Baliga – stalked a woman for 18 months, and then for another four months, in 2012 and 2013. Why did he stalk her? Well, he claims that it was because of Bollywood movies, which he claims taught him that a woman would eventually fall in love with a man if he pursued her long enough! Sandesh Baliga came to Tasmania from India a few years ago to study accounting, but ended up becoming a security guard. According to evidence, Baliga had texted, called, and approached the woman on several occasions to an excessive amount. He even used to refer to himself as her boyfriend! A character witness also shared that Balinga admitted that alcohol dependence had also contributed to the stalking.
It is true that such story-lines do exist in Bollywood, and it always makes us wonder how Bollywood films would pan out in real life. Guess we no longer have to wonder, because it is what it is – a case of stalking. Nevertheless, the court seemed to buy into the argument. The Hobart magistrate, Michael Hill, felt that Baliga’s cultural background did indeed explain why he couldn’t understand that what he was doing was a crime! The argument made by Baliga’s attorney, Greg Barns, was that it is “quite normal behavior” for Indian men to pursue women like this back in India.
The magistrate has adjourned the complaint without conviction for five years, so long as Baliga is on good behavior. Hill agreed that stalking charges are serious, but “after anxious consideration” on the position argued by Barns, thought it was not warranting of a conviction. Furthermore, he thought a criminal record would adversely affect Balinga’s job prospects. He felt Balinga was remorseful and had a low risk of re-offending. Furthermore, Balinga had plead guilty to the charges. Moreover, Balinga has given up drinking and did not object to the restraining order.
Looks like this case is one more reason why Bollywood needs to rethink how they present their movies as audiences are really trying to emulate what they see. For example, even when they show men abusing, physically hitting, or controlling women, that too contributes to certain men thinking it is okay to try to do the same in real life. I really hope movies in India start to lessen such glamorization of actions and events that in reality would be a crime.