Fenil and Bollywood

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Madhur Bhandarkar
Is Madhur Bhandarkar a victim of the country’s rape laws?

TEAM BT Times News Network (November 19, 2009)


Poor Madhur Bhandarkar. The Bollywood filmmaker, who’s just had a critically acclaimed release in Jail, finds himself in the dock once again for rape charges by aspiring actress Preeti Jain dating back to July 2004. Fortunately, the Andheri Metropolitan Magistrate who rejected the Versova Police’s adverse report of the charges from back then and decided to conduct an inquiry into the case, has not ordered Bhandarkar’s arrest. The flamboyant filmmaker is not unduly worried by this development. “But my family is going through trauma,” he admitted to BT. It is a bittersweet moment for him. The news comes at a time when he is in Egypt attending the Cairo International Film Festival where five of his films — Chandni Bar, Traffic Signal, Page 3, Corporate and Fashion — are being screened as a tribute to Indian cinema. “My films reflect society and are liked by the classes and masses,” said Madhur, “I’ve got name and fame after a struggle, and I request society not to make a judgement until the case is over, so please don’t give me a trial in the media, I have faith in the judiciary.” But, the question uppermost in people’s minds is this: is Madhur a victim of the country’s rape laws? The filmmaker, naturally, thinks so. “It also amounts to blackmail,” he alleged of this sordid bit of dirty linen that was washed in public by the starlet.


Facts of the case
In July 2004, Preeti had lodged a complaint with the Versova Police against Madhur alleging he had raped her 16 times between 1999 and 2004 under the pretext of casting her as actress in his films. Madhur insists the complaint was of “cheating” and did not mention rape.

Our View: Irrespective of what relationship they shared, how can what happened between Madhur and Preeti amount to rape? She claims she was raped 16 times in four years, which is not like saying several times in one night. If this was rape, what prevented her from going to the police after the first incident? Why wait four years? And what prompted the complaint? Was it outrage, jealousy, indignation, a burning desire to teach the man a lesson? If Madhur had promised to cast her in his films, and if he had honoured this alleged commitment, would their alleged sex still be rape? The humiliation, the hurt, the abuse of body and soul that is caused by rape, is as much the 16th time as it would be the first… and any woman suffering this exploitation for four years and then crying rape, sounds like she’s complaining against rejection. Not the sexual act itself.

What is Rape?

The dictionary defines it as “the unlawful compelling of a woman through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse; and the act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person”. The Supreme Court’s expansive interpretation of rape in recent years has been to stretch the ambit to include consensual sex based on ‘‘false promise to marry’’. What was clearly never in its contemplation was to bring the casting couch — promise to give work in exchange of sex — under the definition of rape. Even if Preeti’s allegations are taken at face value, it is debatable whether they constitute prima facie evidence to try Madhur on the charge of rape. The allegation, if a promise was made and broken, is a case of fraud. But when sex is involved, courts tend to treat it as a case of rape. Sex by deceit. The opening made by the Supreme Court to provide relief to those who had been deceived into having sex on false promise to marry cannot be pushed further for the sake of those who claim to have been deceived similarly by false promise to give work.


Our view
The idea that sexual intercourse between a man and a woman can occur only if they intend to marry clearly has no place in a liberal society. Also, if the woman gets into a physical relationship because she has been fooled into believing that marriage is on the cards, we may question the morality of the man, but is it not extreme to equate his deception with rape? We would suggest that it is time the law adopted a more nuanced approach to what is universally acknowledged to be a complex issue. Having a breach of promise law to deal with such cases would be more suitable than clubbing it with rape, which is an extremely violent offence.


Is having sex for work any different from prostitution?
This does not come under deception and so on or being conned on the basis of a false promise of marriage, etc. In the case of the casting couch, the lady gives consent as she has been promised something and if she is able to prove that she was deceived into giving her consent then it does attract the provisions of the law… but this, of course, is quite difficult to prove.
— M N Singh,
Former Mumbai Police Commissioner


The starlet cannot say it’s rape. She can call it cheating. She cannot say that “I had sex with him because he promised me work.” This kind of deal is anyway not legal. She had no business to sell herself for a role. If she had alleged (and could prove) that the filmmaker agreed to marry her, then this would have been worth considering. But as it is, she has no case here. If she was a commercial call girl, then this would perhaps fall into the category of prostitution.
— Majeed Memon,
Criminal Lawyer

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By Taran Adarsh, November 6, 2009 – 09:42 IST

Madhur Bhandarkar is synonymous with thought-provoking, hard-hitting films. Right from CHANDNI BAR to FASHION, the expert storyteller has made movies that hold tremendous shock-value. In turn, Madhur has cultivated a rich fan-base for his films.

With JAIL, Madhur not only makes you visit a prison, but also makes you peep into the psyche of a prisoner. In the recent past, Sriram Raghavan’s EK HASINA THI [2004; Saif Ali Khan, Urmila Matondkar] and Nazim Rizvi’s UNDERTRIAL [2007; Rajpal Yadav] narrated the travails and anguish of innocents who were falsely implicated in a case. Besides, Nagesh Kukunoor’s TEEN DEEWAREIN [2003; Naseeruddin Shah, Jackie Shroff, Nagesh Kukunoor] too narrated the story of three convicts. But JAIL is different from the above-named films.

BY BOLLYWOOD HUNGAMA.COM

Besides watching a thought-provoking story on celluloid, one has also come to expect incredible performances in a Madhur Bhandarkar movie. And JAIL too is embellished with superb performances from its key actors.

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JAIL transports you to a hitherto unknown world that most of us haven’t seen and if this is its USP, it’s also something that might go against it. Irrespective of how strong its merits are, a section of moviegoers [read families/kids], who generally tilt towards feel-good/sunshine/entertainment-filled cinema, might skip this film due to its dry [and at times depressing] theme.

In a nutshell, JAIL mirrors a reality in true Madhur Bhandarkar style. It’s hard-hitting, it’s compelling, it’s thought-provoking. The efficient storyteller has the courage to speak a new language in every film and for that very reason, JAIL should be on your agenda.

Parag Dixit [Neil Nitin Mukesh] is living a dream life — a great job and a loving girlfriend [Mugdha Godse]. However, things take an ugly turn when, after a series of unfortunate events, he suddenly wakes up in jail. Parag is perplexed. The only salvation he finds is in Nawab [Manoj Bajpayee], a convict, who believes that Parag is innocent.

Soon, Parag is left with a choice, to either live a life with hordes of broken hearts and shattered souls amidst the prison walls or hope to see freedom some day.

JAIL involves you from the very start. The inmates, their crimes, their individual stories… you get drawn into a world that’s very real. So real that you feel it’s happening right in front of your eyes.

Madhur has a knack of narrating stories and he narrates the story of Parag Dixit with razor-edge sharpness. Besides, JAIL also enlightens you of the legal process, which also acts as an eye-opener.

At the same time, the legal procedures and also the behavioural pattern of the inmates tend to get repetitive after a point and that’s when you start feeling restless. Nonetheless, the post-interval has some interesting twists-n-turns, like the convicts’ escape from the police van; prior to that Neil and Manoj exchanging stares before Neil perches himself in the van; Neil getting thrown in a dark cell, spending the next few days in solitary confinement; a convict using the garbage van as the means to escape; another convict realising that his wife is now a cop’s mistress. Also, the climax is touching and moves you.

Madhur hits the right note yet again. Madhur, Manoj Tyagi and Anuradha Tiwari’s script involves you in most parts. Raghuvir Shekhawat’s dialogues are true to life. There’s no scope for music in a film like JAIL, but the three songs are smartly integrated in the storyline. Kalpesh Bhandarkar’s cinematography is top notch. Special mention must be made of Nitin Chandrakant Desai’s prison set, where the film is entirely shot.

Not only does Neil Nitin Mukesh deliver his finest performance to date, but the performance would easily rank amongst the finest this year. He conveys the pathos and helplessness that this character demands with amazing understanding. He deserves all praise for his extra-ordinary portrayal.

Manoj Bajpayee pitches in a memorable performance. In fact, the supremely talented actor is in form after a long, long time. He’s subdued all through, which only goes to prove that he knows the craft so well. Mugdha Godse underplays her part beautifully. Also, she carries the non-glam look well.

Aarya Babbar is fantastic. This film should make people sit and notice this young actor. Chetan Pandit is first-rate. Rahul Singh is excellent, especially in the sequence when he confronts his wife. The actor who plays the part of Joe D’Souza is effective.

On the whole, JAIL is a well-made film from an expert storyteller. At the box-office, the film will appeal to those with an appetite for hard-hitting, realistic fares, but its clash with AJAB PREM KI GHAZAB KAHANI will affect its business to an extent.


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