5 Bollywood Films That Capture The Horrors Of Marital Rape!

In a country where marital rape is NOT a legal crime, films like Provoked and Lipstick Under My Burkha expose the horrors of this abuse.

In a country where marital rape is NOT a legal crime, films like Provoked and Lipstick Under My Burkha expose the horrors of this abuse.

You must have heard by now, the shocking statement by Chhattisgarh High Court on marital rape. It stated that any sexual act with or without consent by a man with his wife, provided that she is above 18, is no rape at all. Can you believe that? I can’t!

India, unfortunately, is one among the 36 countries where marital rape is NOT a legal crime. The glorification of marriage in India as a sacred institution obscures this ugly reality. The brutality of men and the negligence of the Indian government makes it difficult for women to raise their voice against oppression. Sometimes the voices repressed in reality are transformed into movies that motivate others to fight for their rights.  Here are five Bollywood films about the brutality of marital rape.

Lipstick Under My Burkha

Directed by Alankrita Shrivastava, ’Lipstick Under My Burkha’ is one of the most disturbing movies that explicitly portrays the cruelty of marital rape. The movie vividly asserts the fact that rape is not about sex but power.

Konkona Sen Sharma plays the role of Shirin Aslam, one of the four protagonists. She torn between her attempt to secretly maintain her job as a saleswoman, and deal with the abuses of her husband.

The movie displays the concept of ‘implied consent’ where the husband considers it his right to ‘use’ his wife according to his desires and assumes the act to be ‘consensual.’ There are times when Konkona’s character even tells him that sex hurts. But the husband goes ahead with the intercourse anyway which constitutes marital rape.


Written and directed by Leena Yadav, the 2015 film Parched, captures the disturbing plight of rural women in India. The movie displays the evils of the patriarchal society, touching upon child marriage, domestic violence, and marital rape.

It is a story of rural women, Tannishtha Chatterjee, playing the role of Rani, a widow, Radhika Apte featured as Lajjo, a woman scorned for not bearing a child, and Surveen Chawla enacting as a dancer and sex-worker Bijli.

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Scenes where Lajjo is beaten or assaulted by her husband or when Janaki (Leher Khan), Rani’s daughter-in-law, an underage bride is raped by her husband, leave us horrified and repulsed.

The movie also features Sayani Gupta as Champa, who runs away from her husband’s home as she is subjected to marital rape. Despite the revelations that even her husband’s male family members sexually assault her, the panchayat forces her to return to her marital home.

The violence in the movie is harsh and disturbing, but it also is the reality of our country that needs to change.

Trailer of Parched

Akaash Vaani

Directed by Luv Ranjan and released in 2013, Akaash Vaani might appear as another college love drama featuring the typical patriarchal problem of the girl sacrificing her love for her parents’ honour.

But what comes after Nushrrat Bharuccha (Vani), the lead actress, marries the boy of her parent’s choice is ghastly. Her husband forces himself upon her despite her protests. Vani’s numb and traumatic expressions in those scenes silently scream the reality to the audience.

The situation gets worse when she confesses the repeated marital rape to her parents. However, her attempts to return to her parent’s home is not supported. It is shocking to see how her parents still support the abusive husband and insist she treat him with utmost respect.

This movie brings us to the disturbing reality of society, that no matter how much we laud the slogan ‘no means no,’ there are women who do not even get the chance to say so.

7 Khoon Maaf

A 2011 released movie, 7 Khoon Maaf is directed, co-written, and co-produced by Vishal Bhardwaj. Based on Ruskin Bond’s book, ‘Susanna’s Seven Husbands,’ this movie plunges into the sensitive territories of marital rape.

Priyanka Chopra, playing the role of Susanna, is assaulted and raped by her third husband, Musafir (role played by Irrfan Khan), a poet by profession. No matter how much she tries to suppress her violent marriage, her scars begin to show and engulf her identity. Thrashed by the injustices of society, she ends up killing her husband.

This movie displays the extreme outcome of injustice which takes on an evil form if repressed.


Directed by Jag Mundhra, the 2006 film, ‘Provoked’ is based on the real-life story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia, who ended up in jail for killing her husband.

Her defence for this murder was her life that had been gripped with physical, verbal, and emotional abuse for ten long years. A google search for her name reads her as a convicted criminal, leaving her husband to be a mere victim of her rage.

Featuring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Naveen Andrews, this movie displays the shocking inequality of the patriarchal society where marital rape is not criminalized, but a wife killing her rapist husband is very much a penalized offense.

Image source: Stills from 7 Khoon Maaf, Provoked, Akaash Vaani, Lipstick Under My Burkha, Parched

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About the Author

Muskan Sharma

Muskan is an undergraduate literature student, an avid reader and a writer. Her areas of interest include gender, sexuality and psychology. She feels strongly for the things around and does not shy away from voicing read more...

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