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Mardaani 2 will leave you moved, says the author, discussing how the movie is rooted in the anger many of us women feel today.
Movies are usually considered a form of entertainment. Over the last few years, however, Indian movies have started taking on social messages, whether it be Padman, Pink, Article 15 etc.
Mardaani, starring Rani Mukherjee, released in 2014, a movie that dealt with child abduction and trafficking. Fast forward to 2019 and Mukherjee brings us Mardaani 2, on an issue that has taken the country by storm yet again, that of serial rapists and killers.
The brutal assault and murder of a young, intelligent, female doctor in Hyderabad as well as the encounter that led to the 4 accused being killed, has been making headlines for weeks. The movie too takes on the issue of young women being raped and violently attacked, in a manner so gruesome that it reminds one of the horrors of the 2012 gang rape case in Delhi.
Minor spoilers ahead
Mardaani 2 does not make us develop a curiosity about who the rapist may be or his motives, as the opening scene introduces us to the rapist, who in turn narrates to us the mental makeup which leads one to commit such crimes. The first 10-20 minutes of the movie had me twisting and turning, almost wanting to lunge at the screen and protect the girl, speaking out loud “Don’t get in the car, don’t stop walking”. Knowing that while this may be a movie, it is the harsh reality of our country.
This scene quickly moves to the case reaching the police and the post mortem evaluation. The movie does not spare us the graphic images of the assault as well as the recreation in a sense of how the crime took place, as explained by Mukherjee. It has its desired impact on the audience, reminding us of the sadistic and brutal thought process of a person which drives him to act out in this manner.
As the movie courses through the process of catching this rapist and killer, it gives one an insight into the psychology of the human mind. It craftily informs the audience that this may not particularly be an instinct one is merely born with, but one that develops over time in negative environments and conditioning.
Time and time again the rapist talks of how women need to be put in their place, referring to his own mother in the same context. ‘Fiery’ women, those who answer back, put up a fight, have arrogance or talk too much are the kinds of women he preys upon. Ultimately, it is a power play for him, not an act based only on sexual pleasure (which some people in society still believe is the sole reason for rape).
Whether it is a woman whom he sees talking loudly or one who stands up for herself and lashes out at him for secretly recording her, the idea is ‘how dare she do that and speak up no matter what I do?’
The same mindset, however, rooted more in the stereotypical fashion of how men view women in power is evident in how a male officer has problems with a woman being his senior. Comments such as ‘women are bad drivers, can’t do much on their own, and should not let emotions come in the way of work’ are delivered without seeming imposed. Because after all aren’t these comments usually directed to us women casually and in passing, as everyday opinions?
A response to such statements is given by Mukherjee in an interview (in the movie), on how just because a girl can now study and is working, can we call this equality? We don’t realise all that she faces on a daily basis and yet just because she is out studying in a college or making money – those become reasons to justify anything else she might face! Because, well, at least we let you study or work! So why are you now complaining?
Her response hits a nerve when she states unabashedly that no matter what opportunities are given to us women, (as a favour apparently), it does not make daily functioning and survival in society for most women any easier. Because, while young girls and women may be studying or working, they are still surrounded by the disgusting mindset and conditioning of how women are viewed by men in our society.
As the movie progresses, one is waiting for the rapist to be caught despite all his mind games and tricks which are deftly understood and swiftly acted upon by Mukherjee. The final scene, once he is caught, is absolutely gut wrenching – watching Rani whipping the rapist with all the force that she could possibly muster. She is acting out possibly every woman’s reaction knowing that the man touched a woman without her consent, and went so far as to brutalise her body and kill her violently.
Tears flowing, finding it hard even to imagine what women in that situation must have endured, I found myself unable to get up as the credits rolled. Upon exit I realized two things. One, you could hear a pin drop as the movie ended and people slowly started exiting. Two, every woman seemed affected, whether with an expression of grief or anger, or eyes that were red just like mine.
Mardaani 2 might have been a movie. But the sad truth is that movies of such nature ultimately draw ‘inspiration’ from what occurs around us in daily life. And that’s the scary part. That for years and years, from 2012 to 2019, we’re still grappling with this reality. Surviving on hope. It isn’t enough.
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