Bollywood Films That Changed The Narrative Of Sexual Assault Survivors On Screen
A look at a few Bollywood films that were brave enough to portray sexual assault survivors as unapologetic and fierce
For as long as we remember, the Hindi film industry has presented an over-dramatic image of a sexual assault survivor. They have been shown as helpless and at the mercy of strong male protagonists. In most films, an assault is just a plot device to give the hero a reason to take revenge on the villains.
The movies focused on the victim’s desperation using tragic soundtracks, and scarcely addressed the perpetrator’s brutality. However, in recent times things have evolved and the narrative has been tweaked. We now have characters who are unapologetic and despite being the victims, aren’t portrayed as weak. Let’s take a look at such films:
In A Thursday, Naina Jaiswal, played by Yami Gautam is not silenced and refuses to suffer the consequences of someone else’s misdeeds. She is a victim of an unjust system but decided to take the power into her hands, and resolves to do something extraordinary to seek justice.
Chanda is a self-reliant woman who decided to make her own decisions. A victim of a leaked MMS scandal, she is sent away to live in a remote rural town. However, that didn’t stop her from living life on her terms. Chanda does not lament over her fate and instead she 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.
Taapsee Pannu and Amitabh Bachchan’s Pink confront sexual assault and talk about ‘victim blaming.’ In the film, we saw confident and angry yet vulnerable women refusing to blame the assault on their clothing or sexual history. The film is led by a male lawyer who seeks justice for the three women but they are not portrayed as helpless.
This one is another game-changer – Tanu Kumar has no traits that society expects from a rape victim. She doesn’t start dressing or acting in the way society would have expected. Instead of looking for a male saviour, she fights her own battles and refuses to be pitied or victimised.
There is a scene that made us realise Alia Bhatt’s potential as an actor. 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.’
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