There is hardly any attempt in Bollywood to show men’s issues, especially the ordeal of male rape victims. Aitraaz a movie released in 2004 was the first successful attempt to show the story of a male victim of sexual assault in the hands of a woman. That film was packed with powerful performances by actors like Kareena Kapoor, Akshay Kumar, Amrish Puri and Paresh Rawal that was a blockbuster. The dialogues written were very professional and coupled with impeccable acting skills, cinematography, plot and picturization that had a powerful impact in the minds of Indian audience about male victims of rape.
But the subject of sexual assault on men by women still remained a taboo not only in India but also in other parts of the world. Since the subject is more to portray the suffering of the male victims and denied justice to them, a movie made on that subject needs to be powerful enough to break the existing stereotype and make a permanent impression on the audience. Because before we accept anything, our personal values start judging the matter from our own perspective. That is why even Indian MRAs misconstrued an earlier Hindi movie Section 375 as highlighting the issue of false rape cases on men, whereas that was actually on the feminist propaganda called – ‘Secondary Victimization of Rape Victims’ which is explained here –
It is extremely difficult to highlight men’s issues in a movie since men’s pain is not often portrayed well. Such attempts do not get required funding and even known actors refuse to act in those movies. While Aitraaz continues to clearly stand out in that race, the movie 376D is a good and bold attempt towards the same direction, yet it falls short on many parameters as I shall explain now.
376D, a Hindi movie released in October 2020 – the year of great Covid pandemic, was an effort to show the plight of male rape victims in India. But even the makers of this movie was not bold enough to portray women offenders but showed men as the perpetrators of rape.
To make the case stronger for the male victims in the movie, 376D showed them cross-dressed as women. The writer, however, could successfully and convincingly show why the two heterosexual brothers dressed like women on that fateful night.
The two brothers when dressed in women’s attire were wrongly construed as girls by the perpetrators who abducted them and raped them in a moving car. This plot, however, leaves a thought in our mind that the writer probably could not perceive that a man could be raped even in a man’s attire and by a gang of women. This portrays the makers of the movie as weak who could not go much beyond the existing stereotype that Aitraaz tried to do in 2004.
Even though the makers of the movie 376D wanted to show the hardships faced by the male rape victims and the lack of social and legal support for such victims, they were probably not very convinced that women could rape men. That is why it is important to understand how from the very definition of rape, we can say that even women can be rapists –
Movie 376D shows the battle of two brothers Sanju and Devi who were forcefully abducted from the streets of Delhi and then gang raped inside the moving car. They were beaten up grievously and then thrown to the streets. One of the victims Devi goes into Coma and the brother Sanju and his friend Sandhya fought the battle.
The movie tried to show the challenges that a male rape victim can face in each stage of his fight for justice but due to weak direction and cast the painful feelings of the victims were not portrayed well. It was good to notice that the writers Gunveen Kaur and Robin Sikarwar has done a very good job in writing about this off-beat topic but the dialogues written by Chetan Shetty were not powerful enough. There was lack of dramatization of the matter as well. Moreover, the acting skills and direction of the movie fell short of portraying the pain of male vicitms.
It was found that the writers not only did a thorough study of Indian laws but they also tried to explain the psychological impact on male rape victims but it was confined within the statements of a psychiatrist who was called for cross-questioning in the court. That is why this was not conveyed well to the audience. The same words told by the psychiatrist should have been shown through drama and acting by the male protagonists, and they fell short of that.
The movie tried to tell that men do not cry in the open, but it was important to show the victims breaking down when they were alone. Sanju’s solo shots taken in a park were too many but failed to portray his sadness, his excruciating pain and the battle he was fighting from within. The emotions shown by their female friend Sandhya, played by Deeksha Joshi, seemed more real.
One more important part in the film was the cross-questioning scenes. If you remember the movie Aitraaz, Paresh Rawal stole the show in Aitraaz by his impeccable skills and made the court room debates so hot, juicy and memorable that audience will remember that for a long a time. Similarly, in the movie Section 375, Akshye Khanna has shown his brilliance in the scene of final arguments. There were many easy to remember impactful dialogues and punchlines in those movies that the audience will remember for a long time and that will make them think over the movies repeatedly. This is a quality every blockbuster movie must have. A movie, besides being a presentation of a problem, needs to be entertaining, needs to make people think.
This is the area most movies promoting a men’s cause fails. The main problem may be the funding issues in these movies but those who can break the stereotype succeeds in the long run. Like a Bengali movie titled Dhananjoy did in 2017, Aitraaz did in 2004 and every other feminist movie is doing. The movie Section 375 had done it so well through its promos, that everyone thought it was a movie in favour of men’s rights whereas in reality it was just the opposite. That is how Section 375 could create necessary buzz in the box office even before its release.
Even though this movie, 376 D, falls short of many expectations, it is indeed important to understand the shortcoming in Indian Penal Code (IPC) that the movie wanted to highlight. The IMDB review of the movie 376 D may be poor, but 376D shows that the definition of ‘rape’ in IPC 376 D should include men as victims too and presents strong argument in favour. As MRAs we demand the ‘rape’ laws should consider women as ‘rapists’ too. Otherwise, many male rape victims of women rapists, like this man below, will never get justice –
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