ISSUE It’s gone viral and everyone’s talking about the video “It’s your fault”
Kalki Koechlin smiles demurely at you in the first scene of the anti-rape video, It’s your fault . Pleasant, sunny music plays in the background. And then she talks about rape. Rape, she clarifies, is not “something men do out of their desire to control, empowered by years of patriarchy”. It is actually the woman’s fault. VJ Juhi Pande joins her on screen and gently points out that it is women who cause rape as they are the ones who give birth to these rapists.
Shocked? That was the idea. The three-and-a half minute video, created by Rohan Joshi, Tanmay Bhat, Gursimran Khamba and Ashish Shakya, members of All India Bakchod (AIB), a comedy collective, has crossed over a million views and has gone viral over Facebook and Twitter. It is a sly dig at what happens after every rape case in India …where the victim gets blamed for her rape.
“It is the sarcasm that makes me hit the share button,” says Ambika an entrepreneur. “And sarcasm is far better than yelling.” Kalki and Juhi appear on screen with scars and head bandages, and argue how women are the perpetrators of rape. There is no preaching. The girls talk about sexual abuse as if they are talking about the weather! According to Malini Sree, a student, there could not be a more powerful way of driving home the message. “Other solemn campaigns use tragic background music. This one, despite the subject matter, actually makes us chuckle!”
Well-scripted, the film picks on stereotypes, scoffs at godmen and politicians who blame chow mein and mobile phones for spreading rape, and thumbs its nose at those who advise women to call their attackers “bhaiyya”. Even the police officer who springs the “Why were you out so late” question, is not spared. “It makes them look like fools, says Meryl Garcia, a journalist. “But I hope people who watch the video get the deeper message.”
Members of AIB regularly write for newspapers and magazines, and they are also into comedy. They wondered if they could put together the grave issue of rape and do it with some satire, if it would work. Says Tanmay Bhat: “We were worried about a backlash. That is why we ran it through lots of friends and feminist groups for three full weeks.”
For Kalki, it was impossible to refuse when AIB approached her with the script. “It was funny and yet so sad and relevant. Though I was worried how people would react, I never for once doubted the importance of such a statement. It was impossible to ignore, as a woman,” she says.
To keep smiling through the shoot was hard, she says. “But that really got the point across! While shooting, we also debated on whether we should name politicians or godmen. But we decided not to do that because the focus was not to blame one particular party, but remove the blame from women.”
Juhi says she never dreamt that the film would go viral.
“That was not the intention. But now that over 1.2 million people are talking about it, the debate on rape will be kept alive.”
Juhi too admitted to apprehensions as Indians do not really take to satire.
There was criticism that the video was too elitist and addressed only an English-speaking audience. But Juhi says even criticism is welcome. She points out that even in the Internet audience there were many who think that the woman often invites rape. “Rape does not happen only in villages, it happens across the world and across economic classes. This film is not just for Indians, it is for everyone.” Juhi emphasised that even though humour was used in the film to put a message across, they were all very, very careful not to make the issue sound trivial.
Tanmay says that initially they wanted the lines to be spoken with a straight face. But during the shoot, they realised the smiling face was more powerful. “The girls actually hold a mirror in front of you and make you introspect. It looks like they agree with the oppressors. But they are actually rejecting them, viciously.”
PARSHATHY. J. NATH
Rape does not happen only in villages, it happens across the world and across economic classes. This film is not just for Indians, it is for everyone