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Lakeerein, A Poor Take  On  Marital Rape





Starring  Ashutosh Rana, Bidita Bag, Gaurav Chopra ,Tia Bajpai

Directed  by  Durgesh Pathak

Rating: **

Ashutosh Rana and Bidita Bag battle it out in this  shoddy film on marital rape. Both are  redoubtable competent actors who can bring  alive even  the most  cadaverous  character by dint of their instinctive understanding on what makes a human being react  in an unexpected way when pushed to the  corner.

Courtroom dramas on social issues have made a reasonable impact recently  in  Sirf Ek Banda Kafi Hai and  OMG2 which tackled sexual abuse  and  teenage  masturbation with  sensitivity. I wish I could say Lakeerein completes a  trilogy of  courtroom dramas on  sexual politics.

 It is  weak in concept—the  characters seem  to be puppets on a chain abiding by  known tropes in such legal dramas such as the  plaintiff’s  poor  upright ill father(Rajesh Jais) , the  blasé  celebrity lawyer making sexist remarks  as if they are sanctioned by law, etc.

The  script(Durgesh Pathak and Surya Saxena) plays the drama mostly by rote. There is very little here to make us think  about the borderline between consent and rape. The  horror and humiliation of marital  rape is diluted  by  zeroing in on   handpicked victims . While the core conflict converges non Kavya Agnihotri(Tia Bajpai), her househelp Naseema(Aditi Dixit) is  also raped by her husband while she is  pregnant.

The  plot sickens.Somewhere in the rush to  prove  his point the  director  misses out on those  vital sensitive moments  that would have gone a  long way in connecting the audience with  Kavya’s character.

 Aman Varma  shows up as  a sobbing widower who insists he killed his wife  as he raped her  one night after drinking heavily.

Beyond a point, it all seems like  a dry poorly staged  Doordarshan drama  where the ‘issue’ drowns any cinematic  qualities. On the plus  side, Ashutosh Rana  ensures that  the court proceedings don’t drag their feet. Gaurav Chopra as  the poet profession and spouse rapist Vivek Agnihotri(!!)  gets some corny  lines to chew on.

When he first meets his future wife he  asks her why she uses her father’s name  and not her  mother’s name.

“Like Sanjay Leela Bhansali,”   Agnihotri illustrates  his point.

Ashutosh Rana  brings up Raj Santoshi’s Damini  on  rape courtroom drama.

“This is not a filmy courtroom,” Bidita Bag rebukes Ashutosh Rana.

 Ironically this is  a more filmy courtroom drama than anything we’ve seen in recent times.

Does  Kavya get justice? No one  who has grown up watching films on irrational  male-bashing would doubt Kavya’s victory.At the  end  it feels like  a doctored kabbaddi match where the  winning team is pre-decided.

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