Mumbai, 14 Jul 2019 10:00 IST
Writer-director Aditya Kripalani takes up the issue of 'fear of rape' in his second film.
In 2011, the census of India revealed that there were 943 women for every 1,000 men in the country's population. One could say the population of women is almost equal to that of men. But even though they constitute 49% of the population and are hardly a 'minority', women are scared of men.
Delhi, one of the most populated and infamous cities of India, has women living in constant fear of being raped. The fear, though, is not unwarranted. A short walk in daylight can attract undue attention for women — a wink here, slang there, a touch here, push there. The woman returns home feeling like an object that exists solely for men's sexual gratification. The plight of women having to travel in the city at night cannot even be imagined.
Aditya Kripalani takes up this issue in his second feature, Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal. Tired of living in fear of being raped, four women abduct a man who harassed them and make him experience the humiliation women are routinely made to feel. The film's title is interesting given that these are the derogatory words men use for women when addressing them as sexual objects.
The women in the film, Chitrangada Shatarupa as Chitra, Sonal Joshi as Shagun, Kritika Pande as Shaila and Shalini Vatsa as Vibha, come from different backgrounds with their own sets of emotional baggage. They first try to break the man, commendably played by Vinay Sharma, emotionally and instil the fear of rape in him. The plan is to capture this on camera and make it viral on social media so that other men learn a lesson.
While you know this is a bit drastic, you don't feel bad for the man for a moment. Perhaps because his character is shown to be a misogynistic sicko who believes women have only three functions in life — to do the house chores, sexually gratify men and raise their children.
The discourse that women can be violent too but choose not to be so rings repeatedly in the film. However, one cannot be quite certain of this claim. There are women who are violent, sexually abuse men and children. These cases are just not reported as much.
The film has been shot mostly at night and cinematographer Aditi Singh Sharma has mostly opted for natural lighting. Though this goes with the theme, it also gives the film a monotonous feel by the end.
The leading ladies have given it their best shot. Their sorrows and frustrations are palpable and consistent. Writer-director Kripalani has done a commendable job. The dialogues are short and crisp, letting the women convey more with less. The direction, too, does not intrude into the realistic setting.
Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal is an uncomfortable yet important watch. In the end, the film reaches full circle, but saying anything more here would be a spoiler.
Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal is now available on Netflix.
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