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Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Kaabil's portrayal of rape is so progressive it blew my mind

There are very few Bollywood movies that make you sit up and think. They get your mind and heart racing; and you can’t help but admire the sheer cinematic genius unraveling on a 70mm screen.

Sanjay Gupta’s Kaabil is one of them.

The movie is about two blind people Rohan Bhatnagar (Hrithik Roshan) and Supriya (Yami Gautam). They meet on a blind date, where Rohan learns that Supriya works for an NGO, and also plays piano at a dance school.

He tells her that he’s impressed by her independence and self-sufficiency.

Which is clearly why, when the two start go on a date, Rohan leads Supriya. He holds her hand and guides her through public places. He even chooses shoes for her because he likes the sound of the clicking heels. Supriya is uncomfortable wearing them, but who cares! Even self sufficient women need a firm hand sometimes.

Supriya, and I, get the point, obviously.

The fact that both of them are equals, in every way, is of no concern. Her self sufficiency did its job! It attracted the kind of man who “likes independent women”, so now she can just give up the whole act.

After a few dates, Rohan and Supriya get married. From this point on, I was so inspired by the plotline that I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.

It revolves around truths, this movie. And the most important one is that...

A Woman’s Rape Is Her Partner's Problem
If you’ve watched the trailer, you already know that Supriya is raped by local goons, which prompts Rohan to plot an elaborate revenge plan.

What you don’t know, until you watch the movie, is how her husband's emotions about the whole thing eclipse Supriya’s ordeal completely.

As they rightly should!

He’s so worried and distraught that he forgets to take care of his wife. And why should he! Obviously a man whose wife has been raped needs more consoling than the actual victim.

Did you think he was behaving atrociously? Oh, silly you.

Unlike you, Supriya understands what’s bothering her husband so much. She tells him:
“Main samajh sakti hoon ki ab tumhare liye pehle jaise nahi rahi. Agar tum mere saath nahi rehna chahte, koi baat nahi, mere paas mera NGO wala job hai. Main wohi wapas chali jaungi. Mujhe pata hai hum jaise pehle the waise kabhi nahi reh sakte.”

Translation: IDGAF about myself and neither should you, you strong, traumatised manly man. Martyr syndrome is best yaar.

(Oh and duh she quit her job post-marriage. The narrative would have been a little difficult to write if she wasn’t home alone when the goons came in.)

Rohan listens to her but doesn’t say a single word. What will the poor man say? His pride has been ruined.

Supriya, on the other hand, does a fab job of reminding us what rape is really about. It’s not about the physical and mental trauma of the victim. It’s not about standing up and fighting for justice.

It’s, in fact, about how the violation of a woman’s body affects everyone who’s related to her.

To make her point stronger, Supriya commits suicide after a second rape attempt, because:

“If it keeps happening again and again, you (Rohan) will break down and I won’t be able to tolerate it.”

She also adds:

“Tum kitni takleef mein ho mujhe pata hai. Tumhe baar baar yeh takleef sehna naa pade isliye mera jaana zaruri hai.”

Suicide, my friends, is the next obvious step for a woman who has been raped. Every time a rape victim commits suicide, it brings peace to her male relatives, be it her husband, brother, or father.

It doesn’t matter that, in reality, the victim can lead a perfectly good, rewarding life after counselling. That she can bring her abusers to justice on her own, like Pink tried to show us. (What a drag that movie was, eh? So unrealistic, with its “feminism” bakwas.)

What matters, as Kaabil proves, is that Supriya is the perfect woman for believing that her death will end the her husband’s trauma, for going so obediently from self-sufficient to self-sacrificing.

That's a great message, guys. Are you applauding yet?  Well you will, once I tell you how educational the movie is.

There’s Nothing Wrong with Victim-Shaming
… especially when the victim shames herself.

For a major part of my life, every time my family members, relatives, or neighbours talked about a rape victim, these are the statements I heard them making:

“Gosh, what will the girl’s poor father do now? How will he find a groom for her?”

“Who will marry the other sisters in the family?”

“Imagine what the brother has to hear when he goes to work”

“How will the husband ever see the wife with the same eyes again? Knowing that she has been touched by another man now”

Naturally, I grew up with intense rape anxiety. I was obviously afraid of what it would do to me, but I also wondered:

“What will happen to my family? My father’s reputation?”

“Will society accept me?”

I even imagined scenarios where I was raped and then I committed suicide because I couldn't deal with the stigma.

It took years and years of talking to my friends and colleagues to subdue my rape anxiety. I grew into the kind of person who got into a fight with everyone who pitied a rape victim’s family and tried to bring up the “izzat” angle.

But, Kaabil taught me that I am, in fact, wrong.

My fears are legit.

My regressive upbringing was correct.

I should allow my rape anxiety to eat at me, not because my safety is important to me, but because of how it would affect everyone else.

And it can teach you the same!

Basically, Kaabil is telling us that rape is a matter of honour and pride for the men in our lives. And that if we see them in self-absorbed pain because of the trauma we’re going through, the only way to end it is to commit suicide, so they can go on to be heroes with complex backstories.

That seems like a pretty good concept to base a movie on in 2017, don’t you think?

(Source: The Timeliners)

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