For as long as we remember, Bollywood has painted an over-dramatic image of a sexual assault victim. Unfortunately, in most movies, an assault is only a plot device to give the hero a reason to exact revenge on the bad guys.
The films focus on the victim’s helplessness through a tragic soundtrack or a self-pitying monologue on izzat; it scarcely addresses the perpetrator’s brutality. However, some films have altered the narrative by sketching the characters that are unapologetic and despite being the victim, reign supreme.
Taapsee Pannu and Amitabh Bachchan starrer Pink confronts sexual assault and unabashedly points fingers at ‘victim blaming’. What we witness is confident and vulnerable, and confused and angry women who refuse to blame the assault on their clothing or sexual history. Although the film is led by a male lawyer who seeks justice for the three of them, the way these women are portrayed aren’t the typical bechari.
In Guilty, Tanu Kumar possesses none of the traits that society expects from a rape victim. She doesn’t start dressing in a way that fits her in the model of a sufferer. Instead of looking for a male saviour, she fights her own battles and refuses to be pitied or victimised.
3. A Thursday
In A Thursday, Yami Gautam’s character is not silenced, and also doesn’t suffer the consequences of someone else’s misdeeds. Despite the fact that she is a victim of an unjust system, she takes the power in her hand, and resolves to do something extraordinary to seek justice.
4. Dev D
Chanda from Dev D deserves to be celebrated as a ballsy, self-reliant woman who prioritised her life choices. She becomes embroiled in an MMS sex scandal, and as a result, is banished to live in a remote rural town. Yet, she does not lament over her fate and rather, opens doors of opportunities for herself. She moves to Delhi, and chooses to be a sex worker at night, while completing her studies during the day.
5. Gangubai Kathiawadi
Amidst many powerful scenes in Gangubai Kathiawadi, there was one scene that made us bow down to the protagonist. When a man at the brothel sexually harasses Gangu, she does not suffer in secret; instead, she ensures that the offender faces the consequences. She openly hits him and snatches his chain as she couldn’t let him escape without collecting her ‘haq ke paise.’
Aitraaz is one of those films that sheds light on how assault is not a gender-specific crime. Owing to the stereotypical notion, women are the ones who are usually victimised. This film, on the other hand, debunks the fallacy by showing a man on the other side of the fence.
Now, when pop-culture inspires more people than ever, it’s high time that Bollywood empowers the survivors, wholly and solely.