The real tragic flaw of Mardaani was not in its poppycock vigilante end but in another plot detail that went unnoticed says Naomi Datta
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Naomi Datta | The News Minute | August 27, 2014 | 08:28 am IST

Till about intermission point, last week’s release the Rani Mukherji starrer Mardaani is sort of entertaining. Rani is a fine actor, the villain is refreshingly non -regulation and there is a cat and mouse thriller feel to the proceedings. But then post interval it all comes asunder – the writers abandon coherence for an irresponsible vigilante end where the aim seems to be to make a hero (read slow mo walk and lone ranger denunciation of the system) of the feisty protagonist. This is a plot flaw that has been discussed and dissected in innumerable critiques – so this is not the point of this writing exercise. 

For me, the real tragic flaw of Mardaani lies in something else – in an incredibly dangerous message that it sends out subliminally. No, it isn’t when Rani’s character exhorts all of womankind to find the ‘mardaani’ within to take on a world which is skewed against it. It is when Mardaani’s boy villain tells the fiery cop who shoots people in the head without flinching, ‘I am going to give you a fate worse than death. I am not going to kill you – but after that you will want to kill yourself’’. ‘That’ as it turns out is a potential sexual assault and rape by a politician who likes his victims bound up. (Rani manages to find herself in a situation where she is gagged and bound up). While she easily escapes her potential aggressor with a well aimed and well applauded kick in his nether region, that plan for revenge made me a little uneasy. 

Here is this very ballsy female cop – she swears, she can out punch and out run all her male colleagues and in all of this she is also quite fond of her doting doctor husband too. But even for such a woman, the script writers of Mardaani decided that rape was a fate worse than death. To be fair, nowhere in the film does Rani subscribe to the view – but the messaging couldn’t be clearer. Rape is stigma attached to victim – and a stigmatized woman would prefer to kill herself after the crime. Even one who eats criminals for breakfast everyday and spits them out? Come on now. Seriously?

A couple of months back, film maker Anurag Kashyap in a widely misrepresented interview had said that rape had to be viewed without stigma – the notion of ‘izzat’ could not be tied up with a sexual assault. That is the message Bollywood script writers need to co- opt in their scripts – especially in one which is touted as a progressive film about women’s issues. Actually in all films. Even if the protagonist is not a feisty super woman.

 Naomi Datta is at nowme_datta and has a viewpoint on anything popular and trending!

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