Rape Is Funny. Still.

I’ve written this out of rage, anger and immense disappointment.

I recently moved to Bhubaneswar and had gone to watch to an evening show of the new Sridevi starring film, “Mom”” I watched it in a multiplex and the auditorium was quite packed, which made sense since Sridevi has a strong fan base and because of the audience’s newly developed taste for niche films. I am not here to talk abut the film but to share the experience I had while I was watching it.

For those who have not watched the film yet, I’ve kept it as spoiler-free as possible. However, I am pretty sure that you’d be familiar with the plot of the film.

A few men had raped a young girl, Arya, and her mother lost faith in the judiciary to punish the rapists. So she took the matter into her own hands. The main assault happens off-camera but it was hard to watch whatever was happening on-screen.

I clenched my fists in disgust, the cool air from the air conditioner wasn’t helping. I could tell that majority of the people had the same feeling of discomfort.

Before the climactic showdown, there was a particular short scene in which Arya’s classmate was sitting on the floor with his face down. He was disgusted and was weeping helplessly. A muscular man laughed about how much fun it’d be to ‘enjoy’ him as he was feeling him up. The boy got up and walked away but he couldn’t walk straight because that man (or a few others) had raped him

While he walked away, the man said, “Jaldi aa chikne” which translates to “Come back quickly, you twink”. The whole scene was disturbing. But, guess what? The whole theatre just burst out laughing. Yes, they laughed. The same audience that felt angry when a girl was raped, found it hilarious when it happened to a boy.

The whole point of the film is how rape is about establishing power over another human being. But people in the theatre found it funny when a man was raped because after all, power can be established on the weaker section of society. In the subconscious minds of many, the weaker section of society consists of women. So, it was funny to them that a man was ‘weak’.

When “I Am” by Onir was released, in an interview, he said that during the screening at one of the IITs, the students laughed, cheered and hooted when a policeman physically abused the character played by Rahul Bose. This was years ago, back when in Bollywood, rapes were still used as a catalyst to evoke the masculinity of the victim’s brother, husband or boyfriend.

But in 2017, rape still seems to be funny, I guess.

Maybe this is why when a team has won a match, their victory is equivalent to raping someone, or when Salman Khan trained hard for a movie that gets him paid in crores of rupees, he casually compares his training to getting raped. It’s funny indeed.

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