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5 Notable Films That Explored Violence Against Women



 With  Meghna  Gulzar’s Chhapaak, about real-life acid-attack victim  Laxmi  Aggarwal,   around the corner  it’s time to look at some other hard-hitting films on  the  subject of violence against women.

1.     Heaven  On Earth(2008): Deepa Mehta’s  hardhitting—and  I mean really HARD hitting so hard the wacks  of  the  brutal husband  still ring in my ears—film on domestic violence featured Preity Zinta as  a bride from rural Punjab who marries into an Indian family Canada  , only to face the most horrific physical and emotional abuse in the hands  of  her husband(Vansh Bhardwaj).  Preity  took some hard blows  on her face  to play this  abused woman  who  finally  says no to the violence.  Mehta’s film floundered  in the second-half when the human snake was replaced by a real cobra. Nonetheless a  powerful  film on  a tough subject.

2.     Lakshmi(2014): You really need nerves of steel and  a strong stomach to sit through this savage and brutal  story of a  14 year old girl(played convincingly  by a far older singer Monali Thakur) who is kidnapped  raped and sold  into the flesh market .Wait, that’s just the beginning of Lakshmi’s  torture.The real trauma begins in the brothel when she’s pitched against a sadistic pimp Chinna(played with vile realism by the  film’s director Nagesh Kukunoor). The  film is   like a  never-ending nightmare where the young vulnerable protagonist  goes through endless brutality. You wait for Lakshmi’s suffering  to end. It never  does.Then there was the wonderful Shefali Shah as a kind-hearted Madame in the brothel. You have to see what  Kukunoor’s pimp does  to punish her when she  tries  to  help Lakshmi.No I can’t  describe  it.

3.     Zakhmi Aurat(1988): An exceedingly controversial film during its time, it featured Dimple Kapadia as a  cop who  is gangraped  .As revenge  , she and other likeminded rape victims   go around castrating rapists. Ridiculous as  the film was, its relevance of its eye-for-an-eye philosophy  to this day is disturbing. The  film was a  hit, though Dimple who was herself a victim  of domestic violence  in real life, was quite embarrassed  about it.

4.     Delhi Crime(2018): Absolutely  the  best  I’ve seen on crime  against women in recent times. This 7-part  web-series recreating in vivid vicious  colours  the  events  before during and after  the life-changing ‘Nirbhaya’ gangrape in Delhi, spares  us the  brutality  of watching the rape but protects us  from none of the trauma  and horrific aftermath  of  a crime that shook the conscience of the nation. I will  never forget the  sequence where the ravaged  girl is rolled into the  hospital bloodied brutalized  beyond all  human explanation, in pain beyond all endurance she tells her father, “I will be fine.”. We do  that  all the time. We keep saying things will be fine when we  know  they will only get worse.Director  Richie Mehta  negotiates with  powerful hands the many  hurdles that a crime investigation so complex must  face. This is  a very professionally handled  crime drama, superior to some of  the real-life crime dramas on television ( some of which are  not bad at all) mainly for  the level of  performance  director Mehta gets  out  of  the cast specially Shefali Shah.

5.     Grahan(2001): The most underrated , under-seen  film on the plight  of  a rape victim Grahan tracks with excruciating starkness the  efforts  of  a rape victim to get justice from a legal system that favours her powerful rapist’s political  family. As the ethereal Manisha  Koirala, playing  the rape survivor descends into a hell of  trauma and  insanity  there is just a glimmer  of hope. But not enough to make us feel that India is safe for women. Go back to Grahan for a slice  of  life that will slice  your  peaceful life.

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