Bollywood is synonymous with larger-than-life films, candyfloss romance, and happy endings. Countless celluloid magic is weaved on the boy-meets-girl plot. But once in a while we get films that hold a mirror to the society, films that raise disturbing questions, films that are scathing in addressing unpleasant social issues. Marital rape is one such harsh reality in the Indian society that most of us conveniently try to overlook. But much before marital rape became a burning problem, several Bollywood films addressed the issue in all the pragmatism it deserved.
Here are some of them.
1. Agni Sakshi (1996)
Manisha Koirala plays the beaten and battered Shubhangi trying to escape her psychopath husband (Nana Patekar) in this Bollywood version of Sleeping with the Enemy. She settles down with the kind and understanding Suraj (Jackie Shroff) when the past comes to haunt her. Agni Sakshi was a box office hit and highlighted the issue of domestic violence in mainstream Bollywood films.
2. Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat (1997)
A man rapes a girl because she slaps him. The court orders the rapist to marry the girl, who is trapped in an unfavourable situation. She moves in with her rapist. What follows is the girl’s endless struggle to sustain the marriage which is a humiliating compromise on her part. Her in-laws plot to kill her. Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat, directed by Ashok Gaikwad, was Rani Mukherji’s debut film in Bollywood. Not much of a box office success, the film still managed to highlight the problem of marital rape two decades ago.
3. Mehndi (1998)
Pooja (Rani Mukherji) marries Niranjan (Faraaz Khan) and settles in matrimony. The humble middle-class girl is totally committed to her husband and in-laws. But she is soon tortured for dowry and the abuse increases with each passing day. Mehndi, directed by Hamid Ali Khan, was too real to ignore.