Why Are Indian #Films Confused About #Sex, #Rape and #Prostitution?

Gregor Kern once said, “There’s nothing worse than bad films for a good cause.” I’m constantly astonished by how films made with the intention of addressing sexual and other forms of violence on women in India, are often so deeply misogynistic!


jism poster While pornographic packaging of female sexuality is blatantly used to hard sell Indian films, a woman’s libido and her consensual sex with partners of her own choosing continue to be “controversial” topics in Indian cinema.   Forced marriages are not portrayed as rape.   The marriage of rape victims to their rapists is often seen as a form of justice.  And parents who prostitute their daughters are not viewed as pimps.  In an article where she takes a critical look at how Bollywood films treat the subject of rape, consensual sex and prostitution,  Rita Banerji argues that the reason Indian films fail to address these issues in a meaningful way is because the film makers, like the rest of Indian society,  have failed to affirm a woman’s right and choice over her own body and sexuality.  

Below is are two excerpts from this article.  To read the full…

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Trikal (Past, Present & Future): My Most Recommended #Indian #Films

trikal posterThere are two reasons I recommend Trikal.  One, because it covers a part of Indian history that is unknown, not only to much of the world, but also to most Indians.  Secondly, it is by one of India’s best directors, Shyam Benegal. Each of Benegal’s films [click here for the list] is a cinematic gem, in how he artistically captures India’s culture, society, and history in minute details within his storyline. I’d put Benegal alongside Satyajit Ray as one of the greatest film directors in the history of Indian cinema. Trikal is set in Goa when it was under Portuguese rule.  What many don’t know is that Portugal colonized parts of India long before the British did (in 1510) and, left India much after the British did, in 1961.  The story is set in 1961 when Portuguese are planning to leave and India is preparing to take over Goa.  The film shows how the people of Goa were divided about being a part of India.  After 450 years of Portuguese rule Goa had developed a unique culture, very different from the rest of India’s, and many of the Goan people wanted (more…)

What Do Indian Girls Learn/ Unlearn from their Mothers?

There’s a lot of search going on in the global feminist movement for “female role models” for girls.

But in context of psychological growth, the fact is, that no prototype, however strong or famous, can overshadow the one most powerful female role model in any girl’s life.  And that role model is the girl’s own mother!

‘Mom’ is the ultimate “mirror” in which most women reflect on their own images of femininity, womanhood, self and life!  It doesn’t mean she will choose to be like her mother.  But it is in her mother’s image that she examines her own, and decides whether she will  accept, reject, or refine her own!

So as I look at issues of violence on women in India, what interests me most is the relationship between mothers and daughters.  In this following article for the Indo-Canadian magazine Masalamommas, I look at five Bollywood films and how they portray mother-daughter relationships.

To read the article click here. (more…)

“Amu” : India’s Wakeup Call to the 1984 #Rapes and Killings of #Sikhs


by Rita Banerji

In December 2012, when the social media was abuzz with news of the Delhi rape protests, our campaign received several messages asking why India had been totally silent on the 1984 mass rapes and killings of Sikhs in Delhi.

This is a reference to an episode in 1984, when following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh bodyguards, for four days there were unchecked and organized attacks on Sikhs in Delhi and other parts of India.  Since the Sikhs are a tiny community, 2% of the population and easily identified by the turbans and other clothing, they became an easy target.  More than 4000 Sikhs were killed, hundreds of women were gang-raped, and homes and businesses burnt down.

A report from the CBI, (India’s Central Bureau of Investigation) shows the massacre was sanctioned and organized by the police and the…

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Breaking with Tradition in Bollywood: Actor Dev Anand

The Evergreen Hero

A picture I took when attending the release of his autobiography

I sure will miss Dev Anand!  He’s the only male actor from Bollywood to ever enthrall me!

Actually I’m not a big film buff.  I see at the most one film a week on T.V. and 2 films a year in the theater.  Back-to-back movie marathons make me throws up!

Odder still, Dev Anand was not the hero of my generation.  He was the big star of my parents’ generation.  And that is who introduced him to me.   My mother loved singing, and when I was a child many of the songs she would singand that I loved, were from his movies, most of which were from before 1970! (more…)

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