I’m not a big fan well not a fan at all of Bollywood movies or soaps. When I was young I used to enjoy sitting next to my dad cheering the hero and booing the villain to the very melodramatic Bollywood action films. However, now I just can’t stand them and ridiculous representations are to blame. Let’s be honest Bollywood films are racist, sexist, too much focus on one’s class, every Muslim or Hindu character has to hate each other and the very few White characters they have can barely speak a word of English and usually are from Ukraine or some random European country. Focusing on the main character representation which is used in family soaps and films. I have realised the writers who write these scripts must be living on Mars, as they are completely out of touch with reality (within this planet). For example we have the daughter-in-law’s (dil) representation which is beyond human; I mean she’s just a fricking angel. No pressure much! She lives in a big mansion with her extended family in law, always dolled up, blinged out and she is always found going to bed in her bling and designer Sari gear. Oh and the evil mother-in-law (mil) who loathes her daughter-in-law due to her taking her son’s attention away from his mother. Even though it was an arrange marriage (awkward silence). Then we have the father-in-law now he’s either Mr nice guy who is constantly praising his dil and his wife wears the trousers in their relationship or he’s just a good for nothing bum, who is just reading the newspaper and drinking chai (tea). And then there’s the husband. Well this guy is just a lost soul who needs constant love and affection. He also treats his wife like his maid but doesn’t realise as he says “can you iron my socks” or “can you put some food in my plate and cut up the meat and chew it for me and then put it in my mouth” in a sweet tone which leaves the wife blushing. This also leaves the mil bitter towards the wife as for some creepy reason she only wants this affection from her son.
So that’s the main characters where the soaps or films revolve around and their representations. Funny right, but not so funny for some of the South Asians out there as they take these soaps and films very seriously along with the representations. Jokes aside, I’m here to discuss a more serious matter within Bollywood. Rape. I have always found that this institution just doesn’t understand rape or even understand the victims of rape. This became evident to me when I watched the famous classic Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat (My King Will Arrive). For those who have seen it I’m sure you know what I mean when I say this film I found disgusting and disappointing. However unfortunately for many South Asians especially the older generations this is just a sweet rom-com. The film is focused on a young dedicated school teacher Mala. She has a dream that her groom will arrive on a horse and their wedding will be celebrated the Jay Z and Beyonce way, big and lavish. So shit gets bad for Mala when she interrupts a wedding as the groom had an affair with Mala’s mate. Her interruption leads to the cancelation of the wedding. The cheating groom’s bro Raja is enraged by Mala’s audacity to speak against his brother and begins to insult her. Mala reacts by slapping him.
Raja seeks revenge by finding out where Mala works and one day in broad daylight steps inside her classroom where she is teaching and rapes her in front of her pupils, leaving her naked. Pretty dramatic right. Now up until here it was all fine, well apart from him raping her in front of her pupils. The thing that really began to tick me off was the further we went into the story the more bizarre it became. For example, after Mala is raped she is shown walking in the street to her parent guardian’s house naked, with her pupils. Hmm now what’s wrong here? Well the writers have completely misunderstood the effects and traumatisation of rape. Rape is a humiliating evil thing, I have never heard or read about a rape victim whose just been raped walking naked on the streets to go home and show her parent what’s happened to her. I mean have these writers’ even bothered to speak to actual rape victims? It’s so unrealistic and borderline offensive! Many rape victims who watched this film must have been offended. The next strange thing to come is when court procedures begin, Mala literally after a week of being raped gets the strength to fight in court for her justice. Her lawyer expresses his concern about the courts questions. Private ones. Questions that rape victims in real life would be broken down and traumatised by as they would have to mentally live the experience again. But what does Mala do, after one week of being raped; she slams the lawyer and his concerns and says she is willing to tell the whole world what her perpetrator did to her. Hmm see anything wrong here?
The court rules against Raja and in favour of Mala. But how do they punish and bring justice to Mala? Do they give him a life sentence? A sentence for 25 years? A massive fine and a couple of years in prison? No. instead the court decide the only way justice can be bought for Mala is for her to marry her rapist for the next 24 hours. Sick! Sick! Sick!
I don’t care if this is just a fictional film; I need to express my concern. So this court, this government, this director, writer, producer and cast believe the best way to bring a raped woman any justice is for her to marry her offender. What on earth! The guy has raped someone; it was a conscious decision he took. By her marrying, he will not just change his disgusting character. Eugh I bang my head up against the wall when it comes to Bollywood and South Asia’s general lazy attitude on rape. In all of these films or soaps where the matter or rape is discussed the important focus is given on the woman’s reputation, her families reputation and who will marry her now. Never is discussed the traumatic effect she may be going through, the constant fear she may be living in, the physical pain she may be in as most rape victims in these soaps and films happen to be virgins. The only thing that is discussed is how tainted she is now. To herself and to her society.
I believe the South Asian community need to educate themselves about rape. The term used in Hindi to describe rape is “Balatkar” in English this can be interpreted as having been robbed and destroyed by force and violence. Robbed off what? This is mostly expressed in Bollywood and within South Asian communities as respect, dignity and honour. The role of honour killings also is relevant when discussing rape and South Asian community. This ideology needs to change. Powerful institutions like the media and government are hugely to blame for this sick ideology on rape. The media has failed to educate viewers on what rape actually is and has failed to take the victims into account. The government has failed to care and have turned a blind eye on such an inhumane crime.