I saw part of a shitty movie from the eighties at dinner tonight and my food turned to sawdust in my mouth. Before anyone asks me why I was watching it….
Come to think of it, I get asked that quite a lot when I write/talk about something I didn’t enjoy watching, as if I live in some insulated world and should have known better than to step out of it. This is akin to victim-blaming, fingers pointed at me for watching rather than at the movie/soap that has objectionable content. How typical is that!
So yeah, I refuse to go on the defensive and give out reasons how I happened to have been watching a shitty movie, or part of it. Suffice to say that I was.
The bit I caught had this hotshot criminal-lawyer guy, the hero, barging into a house and bashing up a young man. The hero’s sister was raped by this young man, the villain of the movie, when she went to his house in search of her brother as there was an emergency (That’s important, the emergency part, or else the question arises ‘Why was she where she was?’). The hero was hence taking out his ‘justifiable’ anger by bashing the villain to a pulp.
Two older people enter the scene at this point and try to calm things down. One of them, who is presumably the one for whom the lawyer works and who is either the uncle or father of the rapist, draws the lawyer guy aside and offers compensation for the ‘untoward incident’ that happened. It goes without saying of course that he is offering the hero huge amounts of money. The old man who should have known better, also says nonsense like ‘these things happen, young people make mistakes’ and other familiar blah blahs we hear to this day. It is the same old disgusting tune and the lyrics go, ‘Boys will be boys’.
The hero goes into his spiel, helpfully written for him by the story-writer with no originality at all. ‘Money?’ he asks scornfully, his scorn tinged with the color of being the wronged one, ‘You offer me money when my sister has lost what’s more valuable than money!’ His boss looks suitably ashamed for the moment, just that one moment.
When he hears what the hero has to say next, the man is livid. I see it coming too, what the hero is about to say, and brace myself. I have enough money and lands of my own. I’ll give all of that to my sister too. What I want, he continues while I cringe and try to make myself smaller in my seat, is for him, to marry my sister and save her honor. That’s exactly when the food turns to sawdust in my mouth. The ‘him’ here, his sister’s rapist.
This here is the logic that my generation and the ones before grew up on, remember? Our movies, literature and the talks we overheard elders having (yup, in the same *good old days* that is talked about so much), all centered on this one way to right a grievous wrong like rape: the rapist marrying the woman he raped. Then everything would magically be okay, her honor and that of her family’s would remain intact. What’s more the rapist gets to be treated as an honored guest in their house as the esteemed son-in-law. Win-win for all. Society and its sick ways.
I shudder to think I watched and heard such sentiments being expressed around me while growing up and never flinched not knowing better. When you are young, you absorb what is being handed out to you from all around as undeniable wisdom. That insistent voice inside you asking, ‘But how can anyone marry the rapist?’ you shush, thinking what do you know anyway. Besides, you reason, who else would marry a ‘spoiled’ girl? Yes, spoiled, the choice term in movies and books and daily conversation, spoiled as in ‘destroyed the quality’, ‘damaged’. Avan avale cheethayakki. Translation: He spoiled her.
Though I grew up with such utter crap floating around freely, I had sense enough to not let the (always questioning) voice inside me die, to let it grow within me and ask more questions so as to learn and know better (though I can’t say the same about all of my peers or even some among the so-called next generation). Such a disappointment that there are so many who refuse to open their eyes to light and prefer to remain in darkness.
Coming back to the horrible movie, I did not forget to angrily respond to the hero on the screen: Yeah, marry your sister off to her rapist, you a***hole so he can legally rape her whenever it pleases him, no questions asked. On top of that offer to pay him for the privilege too. @&*%@**%* How much worse can it get, eh?
I can hear the uncle or father on the screen refusing the hero, and he throwing off his job too, walking off in a huff. I’ll make sure this wrong is righted, he threatens while walking away. What he means is, I’ll make sure as her brother that the rest of my sister’s life is destroyed too. After all he is a criminal lawyer and he knows how best to go about it.
I can rant and rave all I want against the hero on screen. But when I think that we have had judgments in recent times reflecting the same idea of the rapist being left off the hook if he marries the one he raped, my anger knows no bounds.
The change happening around us is like the frog in the puzzle. In its effort to get out of the well it is in, it takes three steps up and four (or five) steps down. In the frog’s case though we can calculate the precise day it gets out of the restrictive well as long as we know the total number of steps. In the case of ‘change’ in life, the ‘two steps ahead and ten steps backwards’ motion makes things difficult as we have no idea how many steps we have to climb to get out of the theoretical well we are in.
P.S. I didn’t watch the whole movie. I walked out too, when the hero did. I had had enough by then. But I can bet you anything that the sister of the hero commits suicide at the end of that movie. That’s what happens in 99.99% of them.
©Shail Mohan 2016.
I watched a similar shitty or shittier movie where there are a number of heroes urging this girl to forgive the guy for molesting her. After all, they argue, he did say sorry and we’re asking you nicely, so if you don’t forgive him now and withdraw your case, you’ll be considered arrogant!
Needless to say, I switched off the TV! This was a few months ago; if I had watched the movie twenty years ago, I guess I too would have thought it was normal, not knowing any better!
//After all, they argue, he did say sorry//
Nothing makes me angrier than this business of having said sorry and expecting forgiveness to be served on a plate.
How awareness makes you take a look at things differently, isn’t it?
Thanks, Roshni 🙂
Wait, what country were these movies/TV shows produced in? The very idea of forcing a woman to marry her rapist….so many more opportunities for him to abuse her.
I am assuming from the question that you are not aware of the Indian quirky mindset of “chastity” being more important for Indian women than “life”. A raped woman, shown in our movies, either marries her rapist, or dies doing some good deed, like saving the rapist, thereby reforming him ! Gah !
Dunelight, you are so right about the opportunities to abuse her further. Like LG says, I am talking of India.
Here is a link on the topic:
I am so tired of women being commodified everywhere…especially in mainstream media. A few years back, I watched a Tamil movie where the protagonist is a “professional rapist”, who rapes woman for payment from people who have a problem with the women (GOD!). This movie starts with our man raping a woman on the eve of her marriage. The woman, refuses to marry the doctor, who says that this was an accident, and instead marries her rapist to “reform” him. The movie won national awards, can you believe it?
I think I stopped watching Indian movies after that and started watching hollywood, which wasn’t much better where the woman is merely an ensemble of breasts, thighs and vagina.
I give up.
That’s what I think too: I give up.
Such a horrible idea, trying to get her married to the rapist.
She’s far more than her hymen, surely.
When will that ever enter thick skulls?!
How heartless can people be
To think of a solution so gory
When i read about it
I just want to hit
The shit out of them for their depravity!
You and I, both!
Pooja Abhay said:
Uhh…the shitty stuff movies project! That’s why I stick to movies recommended for ages 2 and below!
Wise idea, Pooja.
Sandhya Kumar said:
We grew up keeping on hearing that virginity is divine, it is precious, life is gone if we lose it…this should stop. We should teach the girls to defend themselves and if a wrong happens, if she cannot prevent it, just forget the incident and go on with life. The people who are around her should help her recover and make her forget the bad incident.
The trauma will be there, but helping her through it is the priority. Marrying her off to the rapist is the worst solution ever.
oh lets not talk about that topic.. I get on my rant .. what idiocy..when will change come.
I hear you. When, indeed.
It seems sometimes Indian movies portray wrong messages to its audiences. It’s like the rapist should be forgiven without giving any thought of what harm he did to the girl. It’s like saying doing these deeds are ok and considered normal.
Reminds of the movie Drishyam. It’s like similar, except in that movie it seems they are telling you that it’s ok to conceal and hide a horrible crime committed in order to save face and protect your family from facing legal action, without even thinking what they put the family through with their acts. I did like the movie, but that to me feels wrong.
Bingo. That’s something that bothered me about Drishyam too.