Q. This is a response to an article published in The Ladies' Finger titled
A. This is a difficult question to answer if you identify with a political view, say for instance chauvinism, patriarchy, and conservative or let’s say socialism. (I am really resisting from putting one very obvious ism in there!). However if you don’t, then it is simple, of course not! Just like cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, sex, drug intake, violence and so on, the list of bad things in films is endless and is not cool! (Du-h)
Over time it appears, we have become more comfortable with watching all of the above in films in increasing doses. From glimpse of just closed doors to naked feet and hands and finally the entire act, with sounds et al, we have come a very long way. Of course, now the trouble here is that all of a sudden domestic violence, somehow, just sticks out like a sore thumb in these “social issues”. It is bigger than those up there, more serious, less understood, more accepted and more often than not misinterpreted.
On one hand by not showing, we are denying knowledge and existence of such a practice. We are shunning it, playing it low key because it is a shameful secret, just like not being a virgin or smoking a cigarette or even housing a family member with a mental illness. Domestic violence seems to be more fitting in this particular range of social issues, the more private kinds that can stir a lot of moral confusion.
While on the other hand by showing it we are acknowledging its existence which is the first step in resolving crimes of such magnitude- acceptance. Yes, a large number of good looking, unsuspecting men do beat up their wives. Moreover an even larger number of wives, girlfriends, daughters, sisters and other female relatives accept it because it’s the norm. Like nobody talks about it, nobody minds it’s so therefore it does not happen. The next step is the turning point, do we accept it and go ‘it happens, what to do? shrugs shoulders and moves on or do we suddenly notice how unusual and not okay , in fact I should beat him back, kind of unusual it is?
In the film, as pointed out in the article there is an anchor of the ‘bhabhi’ who does file for divorce and its obvious (that she is going to) the minute you see her husband thrash a man for not being able to fit a glass table through a small door frame. So it has been established early on it’s bad, in fact anyone who has watched the trailer to ‘Titli’ knows everything in the film is bad! From axing a random person to stealing a car, to possessing an unlicensed gun and so on.
Back to the question, domestic violence is a character trait, and is cool in a dark, morbid and edgy way. One would use to explain a villain, an antagonist but not a protagonist, an anti-hero if you must; but never a hero, the star lead, the one narrating the story, the one teaching the lesson. The same applies to the first list of social evils. All of those are stylistic tools in literature and art, to express negativity, darkness and the evil side of the human society. So no it is not cool, it does not need a label or a line to accompany it. We don’t need a dying Mukesh, or years of research to prove that domestic violence can be injurious to health.