‘Section 375’ Movie Review: Which World Do This Film’s Makers Live In?

Piyasree Dasgupta
Richa Chaddha in Section 375.

MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW

Remember the last few times men and women took to the streets, stood hours in the sun waving posters and shouting slogans demanding that rapists be punished?

Seven years ago, when a young woman in Delhi was gangraped by six men, beaten up and her gut brutalised with an iron rod. She died.

Then last year, when the body of a child — gangraped and then strangled by seven men in Jammu — was found. She was eight.

People, mostly women, took to the streets to protest and demand quick action over sexual assault only when the details of the case went beyond their threshold of tolerance. I deliberately use the word ‘tolerance’, because the first survival lesson taught to women in India is to tolerate harassment or the knowledge of sexual violence happening around them until it breaches a level of brutality. The protests broke out because the horrors of these cases couldn’t be contained by our usual ‘this is life’ blinders.

In Section 375, a filmmaker is accused of rape by a junior costume stylist. The filmmaker denies the allegation. In a bid to show the extent to which the accused’s life is disrupted, the movie shows angry, violent mobs of people waving ‘hang the rapist’ posters, clashing with the police and demonstrating outside the courtroom throughout the trial.

People, mostly women, took to the streets to protest and demand quick action over sexual assault only when the details of the case went beyond their threshold of tolerance.

It also shows a kurta-clad woman throwing black ink at the face of Tarun Saluja (played by Akshaye Khanna), the lawyer who represents the accused filmmaker. The narrative is designed to make the protests look like unthinking, reckless acts of excess, pointlessly targeting a man (the lawyer) just doing his job.

Even at the peak of the Delhi gangrape protests, there were no reports of people physically harassing the defence lawyers. And the most infamous ink-throwing incident in recent times occurred when...

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