|Directed by||Anubhav Sinha|
|Produced by||Bhushan Kumar
Krishan KumarAnubhav Sinha
|Written by||Anubhav Sinha
|Edited by||Yasha Ramchandani|
Benaras Media Works
|Distributed by||AA Films|
Everyone has been talking about this movie. I had seen the trailer in the cinemas in February and had already decided that I would definitely come back to watch this movie. Literally a week later, the world at large was taken over by uncontrollable events and I couldn’t go watch the movie as I had planned to.
Last weekend, I flipped over to Amazon Prime and to my delight, the movie was available there. I wasted no time in putting it on and settling down to watch it.
To bring you up to speed, in case you haven’t watched the movie, here is the plot from Wikipedia.
The reason why I’m sharing it straight from there is not to talk about the movie, which is brilliant, by the way, but how it triggered me.
Amrita Sabharwal and Vikram have been happily married for several years. One day, at an office party, to celebrate Vikram’s promotion that would have them relocate to London, Vikram gets a call from his boss that he isn’t getting the promotion. He argues with his superior who is at the party for not backing him up for the promotion. When others including Amrita try to separate him, in a fit of rage, he slaps Amrita. This incident shocks Amrita to the core and she loses her self-respect and her love for Vikram. Vikram doesn’t apologize to her for his misconduct.
Amrita moves into her parent’s home which leads to an argument between Amrita and Vikram. Vikram initiates a legal proceeding to legally enforce Amrita to return home. Despite several people believing that Amrita is overreacting to the slap including her own brother, Amrita files for divorce, strongly sticking to her stand that he has no right to hit her even once. Initially, she decides to not file for domestic violence charges and mentions irreconcilable differences as the main reason for filing the divorce. To make the divorce proceedings more complicated, Amrita learns she is pregnant. At this point, Vikram and his lawyer, play dirty and file a lot of frivolous charges against Amrita to try and intimidate her and get sole custody of the unborn child. At this point, she files the domestic violence charge against Vikram, which if enforced can result in him being arrested.
Vikram and his lawyer settle the dispute and agree for a divorce. Vikram apologizes to Amrita for all his follies and tells her that he has quit his job, returned to Delhi and will start everything from scratch. He also mentions that he will try to win her back by being someone who deserves her.
I’ve been a victim of domestic violence.
When Vikram first slapped (Amrita) Amu, I sat still, heart beating fast. I felt that slap. I felt her humiliation. I felt her hot, unshed tears. I saw her go through the motions the next day in disbelief and how Vikram would just not acknowledge what he did but tried to carry on justifying why he was ‘coerced’ into raising his hand on Amu. I was at the verge of tears to hear his mother tell her to get on with it, and asking ‘What will people say?’
Up to today, that phrase really bothers me.
What will people say?
We live for society, at best. We worry about what they will say, what they will think, how the family will now have to live with the ‘shame’ of a separated/ divorced daughter in their home, probably not for a moment thinking of the eventuality that they’d have to deal with a dead daughter if this is allowed to carry on.
The dirty politics her husband played, the instigation by his brother to paint Amu in bad light, Amu’s brother wondering why his sister had made such a big deal of ‘just one slap’, and how even her lawyer, initially, told her not to make a big deal of the whole situation kind of hit home. In my life, the characters were different but the thought processes where exactly these.
Amu just wanted out from a situation that made her feel unsafe and unloved. How can there be love for another human who thinks it is okay to raise their hand on you to violate and humiliate you? How do people say ‘Just forget it, it’s only one slap’? Her lawyer started off by telling her about how difficult it can get in the court. Intimidation at its best, I feel. She saw light and fixed herself up to give Amu the legal support.
A lot of people are scared to go to court because they think either justice won’t get served or they can’t afford it, or worse yet, they also believe that they should keep quiet and ignore the violence. For many years, it has been ingrained in some women that if he hits you, it’s only because he loves you. It starts from a young age. The boy in the class will trip you over and laugh, or he will hit you on the playground. He will probably be laughingly admonished and the girl will be teased that he likes her and that’s why he’s doing that. It’s not funny. You are teaching that girl that she must accept violence as normal, as love. There is no self-respect by the time she is an adult and getting abused by her partner or husband is something she doesn’t feel right complaining about.
I loved that Amu stood her ground. She was fair about the settlement. She wanted nothing but her dignity. Vikram made no effort at all to apologise to her for what he did to her. He went out of his way to humiliate her even further by throwing wrongful, hateful and utterly false accusations. To him, it wasn’t about wanting her back. His ego had been badly bruised and he wanted to get back at her for doing that.
In a situation where the woman actually has the guts to walk out, the man gets really very angry because he is humiliated that he was walked out on and he didn’t get a chance to be ‘a man’ and throw the woman out instead.
Frustrations and delays in the courtrooms are nothing I am a stranger to. Corruption also played a huge role in my case. On the day of the hearing with the judge, my lawyer’s assistant whom he had sent to court suddenly couldn’t bring up the papers that were required as proof. At that very moment, I just gave up and sat back, tearfully acknowledging that I only wanted out with my children. Here was a violent alcoholic fighting me for full custody of my kids and he hadn’t even mustered enough time to even come and visit properly during the separation. He chose alcohol over his kids yet here he was, fighting me to keep them with him.
It’s all about the ego.
Eventually, after years of frustrations, everything fell in place and I was able to move on without the shackles of fear, the tears of distress, the need to keep looking over my shoulder.
I have been asked many times why I didn’t walk out earlier. It’s not that easy. My parents supported me, but I was afraid. I had no idea how I was going to bring up two kids on my own with no job. Time went on and I found out that once I took that first step, the way started paving itself for me. It worked out.
My parents played a huge role in supporting me. Just as Amu’s father did. I hope everyone has a father like him, or a parent/s like him. We deserve to be loved and respected and be understood, and not be told ‘It’s just a slap’. We need to teach our sons that it’s never okay to mete out any abuse on their wives and partners, and we need to teach our daughters that should they ever be abused in this manner, our doors are always open for them to come back home.
There are people who will argue about roles being reversed and what about the boy-child’s rights. I have nothing against that. Fight for their rights, too. Today, I’m talking about my story. Let it be mine.