Spoiler Alert: This post contains spoilers about the movie.
Trigger Warning: The following story discusses rape and sexual assault, please read with caution.
Directed by Sameer Vidwans and produced by Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment and Namah Pictures, Satyaprem Ki Katha was released later last week. As some of us have seen in the trailer, Kiara Advani and Kartik Aaryan are playing love interests to each other in the film; Katha and Satyaprem. These two individuals end up in a marriage because of a series of circumstances, and not because of mutual feelings of love.
While Sattu AKA Satyaprem harboured feelings of admiration and attraction for Katha long before their parents arranged their marriage, Katha is pressured by her father into marrying him. Unfortunately, she marries Sattu while still carrying the heartbreak and trauma of a previous breakup.
What is neither revealed to the audience nor Satyaprem, is that Katha had been date raped by her ex-boyfriend Tapan. So she was not only grieving the loss of a relationship but of sexual assault and an unwanted pregnancy that she was forced to terminate.
Satyaprem Ki Katha has with great ease, depicted the effects of sexual assault on new relationships and how difficult it is to build intimacy with another person after such a traumatic event. Soon after their marriage, Sattu notices that Katha isn’t interested in having a physically intimate relationship with him. In fact, when the conversation arises, she outrightly refuses to have sex with him. She tells him that she’s asexual and doesn’t feel the need to indulge in sex.
The truth though, is that Katha is still dealing with the aftermath of the abuse, and is struggling to open herself up to intimacy. Initially, Satyaprem is angered by her refusal.
This was quite a realistic moment because the makers of the film didn’t try to gloss over the fact that some level of misogyny is ingrained in most men, even the ones who are well-intentioned and empathetic. Satyaprem confides in his father-in-law about the issue and quickly learns that it isn’t okay for him to force his way and that he must make Katha feel respected and comfortable. That’s when Sattu decides to earn Katha’s respect and build a friendship with her before trying to create any other relationship with her.
And he does, they become friends, and reach a point of mutual respect and even attraction. But when they decide to connect physically, Katha’s trauma resurfaces and takes her back to the moment she was raped. Sattu recognises what had happened with Katha was more than just a breakup. And he instantly backs away from her.
This is an integral moment in the movie. Because where Katha’s ex-boyfriend didn’t stop even when she explicitly refused to have sex and told him that she’s not ready for it, Sattu backs away from her as soon as he notices her discomfort. Which is exactly what consent is all about; reading your partner’s body language, their unintended cues and what’s not being said.
Not only has Satyaprem Ki Katha discussed consent and what that means in an arranged marriage setting and shattered the taboo surrounding rape (especially within traditional family systems), but it has also aimed at destroying any misconceptions we as a society may hold about date rape.
Satyaprem Ki Katha is not perfect, but it has addressed serious issues such as rape and consent in an innovative and impactful way.