DUBAI: At least four women are raped every hour in India and only one out of those four cases is actually reported. According to Times of India, rape is also the fourth highest offence committed against Indian women.
And yet, Bollywood - one of the biggest film industries around the world and easily India's biggest cultural export, continues to be okay with trivialising a matter as sensitive as rape.
Bollywood newbie, Kartik Aaryan's upcoming film, Pati Patni Aur Woh's trailer was recently unveiled. The film also stars Bhumi Pednekar and star kid, Ananya Panday. A remake of 1978 classic of the same name, Mudassir Aziz's film has irked many with one of the dialogues in the three-minute trailer.
Towards the end of the trailer, Kartik's character, who is trying to balance his life between marriage and an extra-marital affair, irritably says, "Biwi se sex maang lein toh hum bikhaari, Biwi ko sex na de toh hum atyachaari, Aur kisi tarah jugaad laga ke usse sex haasil kar lena toh balaatkari bhi hum hai. (If we ask our wives for sex, we're deemed beggars. If we don't get intimate with them, we're the ones who are unjust. And if somehow we do manage to get close to our wives, then we're the ones who are rapists!)."
Needless to say that Twitterati had a lot to say about Kartik's monologue.
"We are moving backward with such terrible movies. Not only is marital rape ridiculed here, there is practically nothing witty or sensible in this trailer," a user shared.
We are moving backward with such terrible movies. Not only is marital rape ridiculed here, there is practically nothing witty or sensible in this trailer!https://t.co/RGU013gkgX— Revati Deshpande (@Revati_24) November 4, 2019
"No, Bollywood. You do not get to normalise marital rape! And to think a man wrote these words and a male star spoke these words in order to elicit laughter from the crowd! Marital rape is not a laughing matter. Ridiculous and shameful," shared another user.
No Bollywood you do not get to normalize marital rape !! And to think a man wrote these words & a male star spoke these words in order to elicit laughter from the crowd !! Marital rape is NOT A LAUGHING MATTER. Ridiculous & Shameful. #PatiPatniAurWoh https://t.co/YbeOr2jIRy— Harneet Singh (@Harneetsin) November 4, 2019
"Stop telling women to quit being sensitive towards rape jokes. We deal with the repercussions of a society that thinks this way every day. The irony remains that to this day marital rape is not recognised as a criminal offence," said another.
A Deccan Chronicle journalist also called out the female leads, Bhumi and Ananya for not protesting before the film was made.
"I don't have any hopes from Kartik Aaryan, but what about the women who act in these films?" she wrote. "Why can't they say anything to the director or scriptwriter? Why doesn't anyone give a damn about rape jokes in this country?"
Bhumi, however, thinks Pati Patni Aur Woh isn't a problematic film. It's not sexist and shared, "When I read the script, all the doubt that I had simply vanished. This film has lots of fun but, at the same time, it is not frivolous. The story is very empowering to both genders."
Being a person of influence in an industry as powerful as Bollywood, one can expect its actors to have better sense prevailed and not take grave matters this insensitively for a few chuckles.
There is no criminal offence against marital rape in India. The least such directors and screenwriters can do is talk about it in a sensible and nuanced manner.
It's 2019 and stakeholders such as Kartik Aaryan, Salman Khan or Jim Sarbh continue to joke about rape oh-so casually.
In 2016, while shooting for Sultan, Khan compared the challenges of playing the role of a professional wrestler to a raped woman.
“During those six hours of shooting, there’d be so much of lifting and thrusting on the ground involved. That is the most difficult thing.” Khan further added, “When I used to walk out of that ring, it used to be like a raped woman walking out.”
In a country where there are hardly any repercussions for such a grave crime, turning marital rape into a joke is appalling, if not downright shameful.
Marital rape jokes aren't all that empowering to women. Just saying.
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