Tag Archives: rape

Begum Jaan’s message about rape and its survivors is deeply troubling: Here’s why

Last week, the singer and actor Janelle Monáe said something that, coming from her fabulous self, was a bit of a stinker. “Until every man is fighting for our rights, we should consider stopping having sex.” Fans and critics jumped to point out the with her sex strike idea — a similar theme was the crux of a inspired 2015 film, Spike Lee’s almost unwatchable — the most glaring one being expecting women to be more than game to sacrifice their sexuality for a larger cause.

The convenience with which you can offer up women’s bodies as points of resistance, without thinking twice about how such a resistance may work, is exactly the kind of shortsightedness that is so off-putting about Srijit Mukherji’s new film Begum Jaan. A remake of his Partition period film Rajkahini (2015), it was highly anticipated for its portrayal of women sex workers at a brothel in Punjab which is owned by the eponymous Begum Jaan — a ruthless madam with a heart of gold played by Vidya Balan. Everything is running smoothly at the kotha in 1947 until representatives from the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League inform Begum that she and her girls have a month to hot-foot it out of her home, since Radcliffe’s Line of Control to divide India from Pakistan will pass through it. The women instead decide to fight to the death.

Poster of Begum Jaan

But before you even get to how Mukherji ruins the plot’s potential by trying to do too much and ending up only skimming the surface of Partition upheavals, you have to rewind to the beginning of the movie.

It begins in the present day, with an interpretation of the December 16 gang-rape incident. Two men on a bus attack a woman. She runs for it, shielding herself from her assaulters by hiding behind an old woman who then strips slowly, to the incredulity and revulsion of the assaulters. Horrified, they flee the scene. Even if you try to ignore the massive tri-colour blowing in the background (it looks triumphant, I’m really not sure why), the scene doesn’t make sense because it relies on the grossly flawed premise that an old woman’s nudity is a terrifying deterrent for anyone intent on assault or rape.

Towards the end of the film, there’s a repetition of this incident, set in the past. A child called Laadli (Gracy Goswami), who grows up into the old woman of the present day scene (she’s wearing the same ribbons in her hair in case you miss all the other symbolism), tries to protect her mother from rape by undressing stoically. The policeman who seemed so keen on rape is horrified, humiliated and feels so repentant that he becomes a farmer. (Don’t go looking for logic, there isn’t any.) When the film ends circling back to the old-woman-as-saviour scene, you have to pause and wonder what Mukherji was thinking.

Salman Khan rape remark row: Amid growing controversy, no apology from actor yet

Here’s the latest on the Salman Khan rape remark row.

Amid the controversy regarding his comments, Maharashtra State Commission for Women has asked Salman to appear for a hearing on 7 July.

The actor — who had been issued a summons by the National Commission for Women for 29 June, and had been asked to apologise for making a derogatory comment — has now responded to the NCW via his legal representatives.

Salman's lawyers responded to the NCW's notice to the actor over his 'rape' remark

News reports said that the NCW is now assessing Salman’s reply — which, apparently, does not contain an apology for the remark, through his lawyers.

Several TV channels have claimed that Salman has said that he is a victim of his celebrity status, and his comments have been misinterpreted.

Salman had said that the physically exhausting shoot schedule for his upcoming wrestling drama Sultan left him “feeling like a raped woman”.

He made the remark to a group of mediapersons who were interviewing him regarding Sultan.

However, he had immediately retracted his statement, admitting, “I should not have (said that)…”

The actor’s comment, however, triggered national outrage as his flippant remark was seen as the insidiousness of rape culture in our society.

Several fans of the actor rushed to his defence, even as his father Salim Khan issued a public apology on Twitter.

Salman himself has stayed silent silent on the issue, and only made a passing allusion to it at the just-concluded IIFA awards in Madrid, where he said, “Knowing me, the lesser I speak the better”.

At the time of publishing this report, it is not clear exactly what was contained in the reply Salman’s lawyers have made to the NCW’s notice.

Salman Khan just can’t seem to say sorry for his rape remark

Maybe Salman Khan should realise that the solution to the current predicament he is facing involves doing something very simple: saying sorry.

On Wednesday, Khan responded to the National Commission for Women (NCW) via his legal representatives over the controversy created after he had earlier said that the physically exhausting shoot schedule for his upcoming wrestling drama Sultan left him “feeling like a raped woman”.

News reports have said that the NCW is now assessing Khan’s reply — which, apparently, does not contain an apology for the rape remark.

Salman Khan has to apologise for his remark, which used rape as an analogy to describe exhaustion. AFP

In fact, India Today TV reported that in his response, Khan has said that the “NCW should not have taken suo motu cognizance (of this issue).”

Yet again, Khan blew all our minds with his amazing Bhai logic.

Because of course, “the apex national level organisation of India with the mandate of protecting and promoting the interests of women” should take absolutely no interest when an actor with a huge fan following trivialises rape by comparing the trauma faced by a rape victim to the exhaustion felt after an intense shoot.

Reports have also said that the Maharashtra State Commission for Women (MSCW) has also now summoned Khan for a hearing on the matter on 7 July.

Because of his stubborn refusal to apologise, Salman Khan is actually creating more troubles for himself. But despite all the media outrage, summons by a government body, an apology from his father and even Bollywood’s divided views on his rape remark, Salman Khan simply refuses to apologise.

This points out something very important: Either Khan actually believes that he did absolutely nothing wrong or he has such a big ego that an apology is simply not an option. Because after all, how can Bhai, the superstar, apologise?