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SHORT FILM REVIEW – AHALYA: A FEMENIST VERSION OF THE MYTHOLOGICAL TALE.

In Hindu mythology Ahalya was the wife of the sage Gautama Maharishi who was cursed by her husband for having an affair with Lord Indra. However this short film takes a different and righteous turn when it comes to portraying women.

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The link to Sujoy Ghosh’s Ahalya is as follows  :-

Ahalya the short film

The story Ahalya captures is effectually a retelling of the mythological tale of Ahalya with a feminist twist.

Hindu mythology is filled with countless tales where women are mere objects of satisfaction, whether it’s a helpless draupadi in need of a man to save her or a rakshasi in the form of a beautiful siren trying to distract a Rishi in penance, but this movie takes a different turn.

The movie starts off with police officer Indra ringing the doorbell and being showed in by the seductive and attractive “Ahalya” who is the wife of the older Mr. Goutam.  On enquiring about the miniature statue of missing person called Arjun on his table, Goutam tells Indra about the “magic stone” and its ability to turn the person into whoever he wishes to be.

Indra although reluctant at first touches it and uses the disguise of Goutam to sleep with Ahalya. But instead of Ahalya being turned into stone as it is in the original tale, the tables are turned and the “Lord” or perhaps the “officer” Indra in this case is turned into a statue and thus, the “guilty” instead of the “victim” is punished ensuring proper justice.

Indra’s perilous screams are not heard and he can only fall down to the floor from the table like the statue of Arjun and all the other helpless statues, regretting falling for Ahalya.

The use of symbolism in this short film is magnificent with the characters being dressed in white in the beginning and dark in the end, depicting the corruption of one’s character.  The tension is built up pretty well even though the twist might be predicable.  Radhika Apte shines as the sultry and devious Ahalya and Goutam is portrayed well , who continuously gives cryptic hints to Indra like how “All his creations are because of his wife” and so on.

In short, the movie can be split into 3 parts, with Ahalya being the temptation, Goutam being the opportunity and Indra being the sin.

RAPE CULTURE – THE BIGGEST THREAT TO A WOMEN’S SAFETY?

The notion of women’s safety in India is one of much controversy. But what is the main reason behind the lack of safety? The lack of severe punishments for assaulters or perhaps “rape culture”…

 

With a women being raped every 20 minutes, it is indeed an understatement that India is unsafe for women.

Some argue that capital punishment and stricter rules can reduce the number of such heinous crimes against women, but I feel while such norms may be effective to an extent, the root cause is our mentality and “rape culture”.

Rape culture in simple words is the normalization of sexual assault and crimes against women. A fine example would be Donald Trump the “Leader of the free world”, who once said that the easiest to get a women’s attention is to grab them by the vagina and then claimed it was just locker room talk when inquired about.  India also has no shortage of such derogatory dialogues with politicians like Mulayam Singh Yadav saying “Rape happens, boys will be boys”.

However in India, the situation is quite complex really.  We are a country with the second largest population and the founder of Kamasutra but today, sex or anything related to it is a big taboo and is against our so called “culture”.

For such traditions and values there is no shortage of teen pregnancies and child sexual abuse along with many other atrocities. When a root of a tree is poisoned, the fruits born will be poisonous. Nobody is born a rapist; it is society that ultimately shapes the person.  This is the tragic sexism of our society that has led to this chaos.

Right from childhood, we impose various patriarchal notions on our children like how boys should be bold, dominating and outspoken while girls should be soft, fragile and submissive. Such a thought is dangerous as it makes a hierarchy of power and that it is okay for a man to dominate a woman and woman should maintain silence over such crimes.

So don’t just get enraged when a woman is raped, show your anger when a woman is told to take care of herself as if she “provokes” rapists.

What was she wearing? Why did she go out at night? Why was she alone and many more such ludicrous questions are to be challenged. If those questions had some meaning to it there wouldn’t be so many cases of sexual violence against infants, senior citizens, saree or churidar clad women etc.

Rape culture isn’t limited to articles or a few dirty pitfalls, it’s all around us like how hostel timings are different for boys and girls because if the streets may be unsafe for girls, the solution is to lock them up and deny them the right to equal opportunities!!!

The whole issue of this patriarchal mentality isn’t exclusively limited to women’s safety. Paternity leaves for men, removal of article 377 to decriminalize homosexuality and people with different sexual, gender orientations and so many more issues need to be addressed for the betterment of society.

So it’s time to change our mentality in the hopes of making the world a better place!