September, Friday the 13th marked the release of Akshay Khanna and Richa Chadda’s ‘Section 375: Marzi Ya Zabardasti’.While their acting was really good and the script was very intriguing as well, I’d like to shine light on something that matters more. Not only as a viewer, but also as a feminist, I am really happy with the way the movie dares to venture into the part of sexual harassment cases that people don’t often talk about. Here’s why.
The movie took up a lesser showcased version of rape crime- one of false accusation. The reason this tends to be showcased less or even spoken about less than your typical rape crimes is bifold. One- statistically, the number of false rape cases are infinitesimal compared to the genuine ones. Second- the consensus seems to follow the ideal that talking about false sexual assault claims has a anti feminist connotation. This is simply untrue. When feminists can talk about toxic masculinity without batting their eyelashes, real feminists should also be able to call out toxic feminism too. Because contrary to what many people believe, feminism is about equality, not about gender bias.
Apart from breaking away from the mainstream, the movie poses an interesting dilemma, one which might even be called a paradox of sorts. On one hand, we have Anjali, alleged rape victim, who seems to be completely in the right to accuse Rohan of rape. On the other hand, we have Rohan, famous director and somewhat short tempered with a tendency to talk down to his subordinates. So it looks like one of the typical toxic masculinity- damsel in distress scenarios. The audience automatically sympathises with Anjali for more than half the movie, seeing Rohan and even Tarun (Akshay Khanna, the defence lawyer) in a negative light. It’s unclear why such an esteemed lawyer even took up a case like that. But imagine our surprise when it turns out, Anjali was the one to crush on Rohan first. And based on his account (which is believable because Anjali herself confesses to a false claim after the verdict goes in her favour), he never so much as touched her without her consent. But what he did do, was have extra marital affairs with multiple (at least two) women, abuse his power and demean his subordinate female workers. And all of this is wrong anyway. So, was justice served? Because at the end of the day, there is an immeasurable difference between calling a man an immoral cheater and calling him a rapist. And was it really okay for Anjali to accuse him of rape for having a consensual affair with her and then refusing to marry her, regardless of his behavioural and moral flaws? These are questions whose answers will vary with perception.
The movie also draws attention to many more pressing issues in the country like victim shaming, victim blaming, corruption and how law and justice are not always synonymous to each other.
To conclude, hats off to the crew who put in the effort to make such a thrilling, thought provoking, non dramatised courtroom drama that compels you to think about the problems that our country faces today. Personally, I would say it’s a must watch for everyone.