Marital Rape: Films like 'Akaash Vani' can be the agents of change
I had different expectations from Luv Ranjan's latest offering 'Akaash Vani', simply because Ranjan's previous film 'Pyaar Ka Punchnama' was a fun film. It became uneasy to sit calmly through the second half as it suddenly brought out a prevalent but covert dimension of the traditional Indian society. There is no point in uselessly articulating the issue, so let's come to the point, 'Akaash Vani' features a heroine who is a victim of marital rape.
Vani (Nushrat Bharucha) accepts a sub-standard life because she doesn't want her parents to face the flakes from the conventional society in case of her divorce. The term is certainly not unique to us but we hardly see mainstream Hindi films talking about marital rape in such a direct tone. I appreciate the reviewers who judged the film on the basis of its content because this is something we can't ignore, especially in a time when the urban society is trying to open up to the new ideas about women security and rights. Reaching to such a point has been a very tumultuous journey, Delhi braveheart's death was one of the most shocking and disturbing incidents on this road.
Luv Ranjan speaks about the theme, "The fact that it exists. And the fact that society has turned a blind eye to it, to such an extent that it seems to have become institutionalized."
He further says, "I knew what I was making and the intention was to make a realistic film, so there were no concerns around the film being perceived as non-masala. Although this is a realistic film dealing with a serious issue, the issue is weaved into a broader romantic drama so that people can experience the entertainment associated with a commercial romantic drama while at the same time think about a serious issue that pervades our society today."
The three member committee headed by Justice JS Verma has given its recommendations to amend the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012. One of the recommendations talks about marital rapes and shows the willingness of changing the existing mindset and firmly brings forth the idea that the sexual nature of a married couple depend on both the parties.
The Bill proposed to revise section 375 of Indian Penal Code to increase the age of consensual sex for a married woman from 15 to 16 years, this is important because wives traditionally are seen as a docile, submissive subjects.
I would like to call you unwilling rather than ignorant if you think that the law alone is going to change the social status of women in general, and if you believe that the media is the strongest apparatus to make it happen then films would be your chief weapon.
So far, we don't expect films to focus on issues like marital rape because in most of the films the story finishes at marriage. Our film experience pushes us to take marriage as the juncture after which the protagonists can live happily for eternity.
Small screen presents this issue in a very melodramatic way which couldn't be the realistic depiction as it caters to the whole 'family' which, due to their habitual upbringing, feels uncomfortable in dealing with the naked truth. Leave solving puzzles, I am making it direct, I don't think TV is ready yet to show a marital rape in a realistic way.
'Saubhagyavati Bhava', 'Na Aana Is Des Laado' and other TV serials might feel difficulty in venturing into the topic but cinema is a more evolved medium in India in terms of concepts and experimentation.
There was a time when the audience accepted heroes who tamed wild heroines, sometimes even by marrying them, but that concept is almost unacceptable for women now. Of course, 'macho-giri' will remain for some more time but the sooner or later filmmakers will be forced to change their tone.
Do you remember that TVC about a cold cream in which a woman says, "Bathroom me gir padi thi," (Had fallen in bathroom). Such a woman needs to rise above her pathetic state in films and advertisements.
You fall in love, sing, dance, do whatever you want but address the real issue, audience wouldn't like to wait much for films that can help in reaching to a common consensus against marital rape.
More about Rohit VatsA former film student himself, Rohit 'Vats' feels that a good film is made with a zealous heart rather than brilliant technique. He thinks that films can be used as a tool of social change, as the language of cinema crosses all barriers and touches people's lives deeper than any other medium. A self-confessed film noir buff, Rohit has equal admiration for other genres as well. Currently he is trying to bud as a film commentator.
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