The titillating rape scene in the 1994 movie – Mohra still shakes me to the core.
A bunch of vile men at a college scheme to rape a fellow student by inviting her to a party. That morning, she convinces her brother, hero Sunil Shetty, that she will be fine as she has a male friend who will accompany her. The gang of rapists distract the friend with alcohol and spike her drink with a drug. The next few scenes are extremely disturbing as the men are shown to rip her clothes, one by one, and laugh at her misery. The director then cuts to a scene of the girl declared dead at the hospital.
I was only 6 years old when that movie premiered on TV but that scene is still imprinted in my mind – like a fresh wound. It used to surface as nightmares until I saw repeated instances of rape scenes in Hindi movies and I was numbed by them, like the constant headlines of deaths by suicide bombings.
That fear was duly ingrained. The college girl in Mohra, the brief role she had, was a modern, “skirt wearing” woman, as if she brought that incident upon herself. This wretched mentality is well and alive for which I would like to counter with this beautiful quote.
India notoriously masturbates to only two avenues of entertainment – cricket and cinema (Tollywood, Bollywood, Kollywood etc).
When it comes to sports, greater financial investment is now being made into other sports like soccer, boxing and wrestling, thanks to Olympic winners- Mary Kom and Yogeshwar Dutt. As for cinema, literacy has improved and the evolved audience expects more from a movie than just brain fart of a hero and a bimbette of a heroine.
Though Bollywood has produced some timeless movies like Do Ankhen Baarah Haath, Anand and Bawarchi, our greatest commercial successes are foul with rape scenes of women. You would think Bollywood has progressed by now, but let me enlighten you on the chutiyapanti that still exists.
With a name like Heropanti, you can expect that the story will have some regressive bullshit like saving a damsel in distress from a gang of rapists by single-handedly beating them up with his bare hands.
When the director has shown enough disgusting images of the heroine being harassed, and crying for help, the chutiya will come in the nick of time to save her.
He magically finds her in some random building, by what I assume is his sixth sense of heroism.
Where are these chutiyas when the Uber cab rape happened recently? Or the two girls were hung from a tree in UP? Or the Delhi gangrape?
The following scene from Rowdy Rathore is especially disturbing.
A policeman informs his local panchayat leader that his wife has been missing for some time.
The leader laughs and informs him that women are best during the teenage years of virginity and several years after their marriage. If those dialogues don’t boil your blood, you see the glimpse of the wife being molested by the leader’s son in broad daylight. Even the policeman’s two kids can identify their mother but he is paralyzed to say anything because the head of the panchayat rules the village. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?
We need to depend on this mustached, creepy cop (below) to save the village from the corrupt leader. But who will save us from his molestation?
Another Prabudeva film this year, Action Jackson, received the following review from Rajeev Masand. When you finish reading it, you will wonder how they allow such assholes to even make movies.
“Sonakshi Sinha is cast as a presumably educated woman with a corporate job, who becomes obsessed with seeing Vishy naked because – believe it or not – she’s convinced it brings her good luck. Wait, it gets worse. Manasvi Mamgai is Marina, who, when we first see her, is about to be raped by the villain. Drugged and bound, she’s turned on by the sight of a shirtless AJ when he storms in to rescue her! There’s also Yami Gautam as AJ’s fiancée, who in one of the film’s most disturbing scenes, is repeatedly punched in the face by a hulking bad guy. All this in shocking close-up.”
Then there is Happy New Year, where Deepika is repeatedly insulted by Shah Rukh for being a cheap, bar dancer and yet her character still falls in love with him (because SRK is the producer).
Clearly all these movies are from the male patriarchal perspective. Kya hamari itni aukaad hai? Is this the only respect we are accorded in cinema and reality – to be raped and “saved” by some fictional, superman like crusader?
Queen was a breath of fresh air in a country polluted with nonsense scripts. Its freshness was evident in the way that director Vikas Bahl gave Kangana Ranaut the freedom to pen her own dialogues. Finally, we had a movie for women!
Her ability to keep a hold of her bag from the goon in Paris and express her feelings to Lisa Haydon in the cab were applause-worthy!
The delicate dialogues between Kangana and Lisa also passed the Bechdel Test (The Bechdel test asks if a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man.)
The Bechdel Test is important because men are NOT the focal point of our being. We have goals, dreams, and setbacks outside the realm of the opposite gender. But you will surprised to know how few films have passed this test of recent.
Dev D, Shaitan, No One Killed Jessica, Dirty Picture, Queen are the only ones that pass with merit. Yeh Jaawani Hai Dewaani barely passes this test when Deepika and Kalki talk about something else in ONE dialogue.
All the other blockbusters failed! This is disheartening trend but I hope it will improve with evolving mindsets and stronger women who are not obsessed with Khans and Akshay Kumar.
HOLLYWOOD & ABROAD
Italian actress Monica Belluci acted in a brutal rape scene in the Italian movie Irreversible which is even more scarring than the Mohra one.
Wolf of Wall Street – a disgusting film on the excesses of Wall Street also has a rape scene where DiCaprio’s wife tells him “No” but he continues to fuck her against her will. He receives mild sentences for his money laundering and roams free by the end of the movie.
Game of Thrones is another prime example that is rampant with white men committing incest, murder, and rape, all for the sake of power. And scarily enough, the show’s staff went on to deny the non-consensual nature of the rape scene and the series has been extremely popular for all these wrong reasons.
It would take one search on Google to locate all these terrifying rape scenes.
Just imagine how easy it must be for young kids to develop fake accounts by lying about their age and viewing such scenes online?
How do you filter them from such acts of depravity? If you are a parent or know a kid in your family, you will know the ease with which kids can search for mature content on their smart devices on the web.
If we do not better regulate the sadomasochistic nature of porn and rape scenes in cinema available for download and consumption in the market, we are feeding the cruel mindset that rape is OK. This responsibility falls on all our shoulders.
The recent Satyamev Jayate video on “Masculinity of Men” makes the perfect point regarding portrayal of women as objects with no rights. The best part is that Aamir Khan includes himself in this guilty list of actors who have treated women in such a way.
Below, I share a brief video of that show where Kangana nails it with her articulate statement. She states that Shakespeare wrote some of the darkest works known to mankind but its influence has been so positive.
Cinema, too, should not shy away from showing the reality of rape and harassment of women but it SHOULD show the consequences of such actions. This way, women will be empowered and society will frown upon such behavior.
Instead of showing a hero saving her or depicting women in items songs like “Gandi Baat”; show how we can fight together to achieve justice (e.g. the protests in No One Killed Jessica, or the eventual support shown for pregnant Preity Zinta in Kya Kehna). The bottomline is that rapists should be the ones to be ostracized from society rather than showing the girl losing her “izzat.” A woman does NOT lose her self-respect, the rapist does!
I ask all members of the movie industry – why are rape scenes of women so commonplace? Why don’t we have more women leading fulfilling lives outside of men? Why don’t we show more women enjoying a healthy sex life with their partners rather than showing some pristine princess whose coyness makes her the more desirable female (Cocktail)?
In fact, when was the last time you saw a movie where a parent or guardian was telling their son not to rape?
I can’t recall any such movie.
Society may find it difficult to talk about sex but we MUST speak up about the importance of consent.
I am waiting for such a movie.