How is Bollywood Normalizing Rape Culture & Rape Marriages?

Here is the list of movies that normalize rape culture & rape marriages

For a long time, Indian film has shied away from showing any real representation of sex. The reason behind it is very obvious. Sex is still a taboo across most of Indian society. You cannot talk about it in public so you cannot talk about it on the big screen either. But filmmakers know how to sell sex among Indian audiences. It cannot be shown as something positive, so they get into its negative side. How? By showing rape scenes and often normalizing rape cultures and marital rape.

Here are some new and old movies from the Indian film industry, that normalizes rape culture and more often marital rape.

Sarileru Neekiveru (2020)

If you think rape jokes and rape marriages are an obsolete idea of 90s movies, then you are absolutely wrong. This is a 2020 South-Indian movie carrying the legacy of the old famous idea, ‘How to force a marriage on someone’.

This movie is filled with over-the-top acting and portrays comedy scenes in the most problematic manner. The mother of the actress played by Rashmika is tortured by her husband whenever she crosses the line. No wonder she is the same lady who advised her daughter in the film to trespass the private train’s compartment of Mahesh Babu and shout in agony as he took advantage of her. And the actress did so just because the boy rejected the forced marriage proposal. The girl’s family also played along and accepted a boy who had allegedly raped their daughter.

All this was done in the name of comedy.

Bhagyawan (1993)

Some may argue that in those days, cinema was not that progressive. But for several decades Bollywood has shown that marrying the girl to her assaulter is the solution to hideous crimes like rape.

Bhagyawaan really exemplifies how insignificant the woman and her experiences are. There was a scene in the movie where Pran’s sister was working as a house help but was raped by the owner Ranjit.

Rather than reporting the crime to the police, he takes his sister to marry Ranjit.

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Zakhami Aurat (1988)

In some cases, rape scenes were entirely about the audience getting pleasure from the domination of a woman. Zakhmi Aurat had a really disturbing rape scene with Dimple Kapadia that lasted for 7-long-minute. The more she resisted, the more effort the assaulter(s) had to put in to overpower her. And the greater was his prize.

More violence tended to make a rape scene more “exciting”.

Tohfa (1984)

Other times, the woman being eve-teased or threatened to rape was shown in a very casual and comedic light.

Shakti Kapoor who gained popularity for his role as a rapist, eve-teased a girl and said, “Main tumhare sath balatkar karunga, tumhari izzat ko lut lunga”, in his famous Nandu style.

Bulandi (2000)

This movie was blessed with a star cast like Rajnikanth, Anil Kapoor, Rekha, Raveena Tandon, and many more.

Rajinikanth playing the role of the powerful zamindar had all rights to decide anyone’s destiny. While serving justice to a so-called ‘raped girl’, he forces Shakti Kapoor, again playing the assaulter, to marry her.

Because if sex happens forcefully but after marriage, it will not be considered rape.

And now nobody will question his integrity as he is the master of a woman’s body.  

Certainly, virginity is associated with the purity of a woman in India. And if that is lost, it is the loss of the family’s honour discarding what women want or feel.

While there were some movies like Maatr, Pink and Mom that raised the seriousness of this issue rightly. But they were not commercially as successful as one which is capitalized on sexual tropes. Films like Grand Masti which markets itself as an adult comedy shrugs off its responsibility even after objectifying women in every scene.

Maybe the film industry still needs to be sensitive enough before promoting or depicting rape culture and rape marriages.

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Ayushi Mittal

In her journey to become a journalist, Ayushi can inculcate your tale through her news writings. You may find her with a mike in protests, rallies, or in museums. So what's your story?
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