From Provoked to Parched: Indian movies that address the issue of marital rape
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From Provoked to Parched: Indian movies that address the issue of marital rape
Megha Mukundan
Sep 28, 2021

India is among the many countries that have the high rates of sexual violence against women. Besides, it is one of the 36 countries that do not recognise marital (or spousal) rape. Sex is a taboo topic, and intimate partner violence of any kind is often deemed as a private matter of the family. 

However, there are some films that have attempted to address this horrific issue with a sensitive lens – Whether it’s the black comedy Lipstick Under My Burkha, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan-led Provoked or the revolutionary Malayalam film Kettyolaanu Ente Malakha

Provoked: A True Story
7OTTplay Rating
The 2006 film helmed by Jag Mundhra, the film is based on the real-life story of a Kiranjit Ahluwalia, who killed her abusive husband and was consequently imprisoned. Featuring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Naveen Andrews in the lead roles, the film chronicles the journey of a woman who finally combusts after facing physical and mental torture. It is shocking to realise that a woman killing her rapist husband is treated as an offensive crime in a society where marital rape is a hush-hush topic.
Lipstick Under My Burkha
6.9OTTplay Rating
The Alankrita Shrivastava directorial is a commentary on how patriarchy has always shackled women. One story follows Konkona Sensharma’s Shirin Aslam, who is sexually exploited by her husband, and isn’t allowed to have her own income. Lipstick Under My Burkha shows the ugly face of relationships, and how men control women financially and sexually.
Akaash Vani
6.8OTTplay Rating
The 2013 movie which appeared as another campus love drama openly portrays the traumatic life of a young girl who is exposed to abuse from her own husband, whom she married without her parents’ approval. The character played by Vani, turns numb and shocked, and conveys the terrible reality in silence. Helmed by Luv Ranjan, the movie has Kartik Aaryan, Sunny Singh, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Kiran Kumar and Prachi Shah.
Kettyolaanu Ente Malakha
7.7OTTplay Rating
This revolutionary attempt from Mollywood will probably be the first feature, which strongly portrays marital rape in the the history of Malayalam cinema. Asif Ali and Veena Nandhakumar play a married couple, where the husband violates his wife’s consent. Though the climax of the film was criticised, this Nissam Basheer directorial is definitely a forward step in the industry. The cast also inclues Basil Joseph, Sminu Sijo and Manohari Joy playing the supporting roles.
7.8OTTplay Rating
Directed by Leena Yadav, the film is a story of a woman living in a rural area, and touches upon the subjects like marital rape, child marriage, and domestic violence. Radhika Apte is featured as Lajjo, who is constantly assaulted by her husband, while the movie also has an underage bride being subjected to marital rape. Sayani Gupta is also featured as a woman who runs away from her husband’s home after being abused. The harsh and intriguing narration of the movie will leave anyone shocked.
7 Khoon Maaf
5.9OTTplay Rating
The Vishal Bhardwaj directorial featuring Priyanka Chopra and Irrfan Khan, delves deep into the sensitive and horrid realities of marital rape. Susanna, played by Priyanka, ends up causing six deaths in her quest for love. No matter how hard the woman tries to escape, she keeps getting raped by her poet husband, who is her third spouse, and thrashed by the violent marriage.

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