Tag Archives: Rape

Movie Review: Karle Pyaar Karle (2014)

Karle_Pyaar_Karle_Movie_PosterZero Stars (out of 4)

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At times, Karle Pyaar Karle (“Fall in Love,” according to the translation of the title song’s lyrics) veers into So Bad, It’s Good territory. I almost want to recommend it, but the movie is so inept and offensive that I can’t.

Karle Pyaar Karle is primarily a vehicle for producer Suneel Darshan to launch the acting career of his son, Shiv. Therein lies the problem. Shiv Darshan doesn’t have the acting chops to be a leading man. A gym membership does not a hero make.

Darshan the younger plays Kabir, the human equivalent of Poochie the Dog from The Simpsons: full of attitude and brashness, so desperate to come off as cool that he winds up a total dud instead.

Kabir has the emotional IQ of a potato, and he jokes inappropriately throughout the whole film. Director Rajesh Pandey is so insecure in Darshan’s ability to be funny that he gives Kabir a pair of toadies who laugh at everything he says. An example of Kabir’s comic genius: “Don’t pass gas, and stop acting like such an ass.”

Kabir’s only truly funny moments are when Darshan tries to emote.

College-guy Kabir returns to his hometown after a fifteen year absence, following that one awkward time that he stabbed his best friend’s step-dad. Kabir’s frequent run-ins with the law have kept the family from settling down, yet Kabir has the nerve to be upset when his mom asks him to stay out of trouble. He later blames his wild ways on his mother’s inability to control him. What a guy.

Kabir sees his now-grown-up-and-hot friend — the one with the skewered step-dad — Preet (Hasleen Kaur), but she doesn’t recognize him. Following some ridiculous banter that results in him getting a lap dance at a blood drive, Kabir corners Preet in the empty school library. He pins her hands behind her back, bends her over a table, and essentially threatens to rape her until she begs for her freedom.

As Preet flees the library, she realizes who Kabir is and runs to hug him. WTF?! It doesn’t matter that Kabir knew he wasn’t going to rape her. Preet feared she was going to be raped, yet she forgets about it entirely within ten seconds.

Karle Pyaar Karle has a lot of issues with the way it depicts women. Preet’s entire wardrobe is skimpy club-wear, and every white woman in the movie wears a bikini-top. When Preet catches Kabir seducing another woman out of her clothes to win a bet, Kabir calls Preet a slut for having spent time with him platonically.

The woman who gives the lap dance — the same one who disrobes, I think — gets the only legitimately funny lines in the whole movie: “If your girlfriend donates her kidney to you, you should get a new girlfriend. Who wants a girlfriend with just one kidney?”

The most offensive part of the movie happens following the broken engagement between Preet and Jazz, the son of a gangster named DG (presumably so-named because someone had a giant Dolce & Gabbana logo necklace he could wear during the shoot). DG insists that Preet is going to get married regardless, but to whom? A random flunky? Another son we didn’t know about?

Nope. He’s going to marry her to a black guy.

The gangster considers it a punishment to marry this young, Indian woman to an African man. Preet’s mom evidently agrees, procuring bottles of poison for herself and her daughter to drink before the ceremony.

The insults continue after Kabir rescues Preet (though not her mom, whom they leave at the gangster’s mansion, the bottle of poison at her lips). Kabir threatens to return Preet to “that black bull,” and Preet repeats the slur.

Come on, Karle Pyaar Karle. Why couldn’t you just let me enjoy your insane plot twists, soft-core dance numbers, rocket launchers, and multiple exploding cars? Why did you have to ruin things with rape threats, racism, and perpetuating moral double standards for women? Why couldn’t you just be stupid and harmless?

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Worst Bollywood Movies of 2013

This is the sixth “worst movies of the year” post I’ve written, and every year the worst movies share the same problems: bad plot construction, unintentionally unlikable protagonists, and the reprehensible treatment of female characters. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)

Most of this year’s crop of bad movies have the standard problems, but I give credit to Zila Ghaziabad for making it onto the list for a whole new reason: failure to appreciate the strength of the Censor Board’s opposition to smoking.

While all Indian filmmakers know that scenes in which a character smokes are likely to be tagged with an onscreen warning that reads, “Cigarette smoking is injurious to health,” director Anand Kumar refused to capitulate in Zila Ghaziabad. As a result, the warning appears onscreen for nearly half of the movie. It’s so distracting that I’m almost convinced it was deliberate and that the whole movie is Kumar’s dig at the Censor Board.

Among movies that stunk in more conventional fashion, Bajatey Raho, Bullett Raja, and Fukrey were full of plot holes that never should’ve made it out of a first draft, let alone into a finished project. Fukrey wins bonus points for a racist scene in which a character refers to a group of black bodyguards as the “Chicago Bulls.”

I, Me aur Main and Ramaiya Vastavaiya were hampered by really, really unlikeable lead characters. Not to be outdone, Grand Masti featured not one, but three total jerks in leading roles. I’m awarding bonus points to Grand Masti for racism, sexism, and making a joke about gang rape.

Grand Masti wasn’t the only movie to try to make light of rape or treat it as a plot device. The threat of rape was used to provoke the male leads in R… Rajkumar and Himmatwala. Both movies try to make that case that a woman’s only defense against rape is a strong male family member or boyfriend.

As patronizing as that idea is, it’s still not as abhorrent as the violently sexist message of my worst film of 2013: 3G. This poorly written horror movie cites pornography as the primary reason romantic relationships fail, but never suggests that the problem lies with those who view porn. Instead, it explicitly blames the women who perform in porn (and implicitly blames any woman with a sex drive). Want to get rid of porn? Kill all the porn stars!

At the same time that the movie blames sexually active women for provoking the violence committed against them, directors Shantanu & Sheershak go out of their way to portray actress Sonal Chauhan as a sex object. The camera ogles her breasts and buttocks while she writhes around on the beach and on a kitchen island (something I’m guessing she doesn’t do for fun when she’s at home alone).

Shantanu & Sheershak fail to recognize their own hypocrisy. Who’s more responsible for Chauhan’s depiction as a sex object: Chauhan — a paid performer — or the men who told her what to do and how to pose, filmed her, paid her, and then counted on others to pay to watch what they filmed?

Worst Bollywood Movies of 2013

  1. 3G — Buy at Amazon
  2. Grand Masti — Buy at Amazon
  3. Himmatwala — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  4. Fukrey — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  5. Bullett Raja — Buy at Amazon
  6. R… Rajkumar — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  7. Ramaiya Vastavaiya — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  8. Zila Ghaziabad — Buy at Amazon
  9. I, Me aur Main — Buy at Amazon
  10. Bajatey Raho — Buy at Amazon

Previous Worst Movies Lists

New Trailer: December 17, 2013

iRock films released the trailer for their upcoming film Kill the Rapist?, set for theatrical release sometime in 2014. There’s a question mark in the title because the studio is soliciting votes from the public to determine the film’s ending. It’s a clever gimmick that taps into the widespread feelings of helplessness that stir whenever a particularly vicious rape makes headlines.

The trailer footage raises an awful lot of red flags. Nearly half of the trailer is devoted to scenes of the rapist torturing his victim. Is the movie more about the rape or the victim’s revenge? I get very little vicarious satisfaction from revenge movies, anyway, but I have no interest in watching a film that makes a spectacle out of a heinous crime. Maybe a future trailer will better define what kind of movie Kill the Rapist? really is.

Movie Review: R… Rajkumar (2013)

R..._Rajkumar_Theatrical_poster_(2013)1 Star (out of 4)

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Director Prabhu Deva’s schizophrenic style strikes again. In R… Rajkumar, he derails an enjoyable action rom-com with a casual treatment of violence against women.

The double shame is that the character who suffers most from this misogyny, Chanda (Sonakshi Sinha), is a strong female character. Yet the script reduces her to a plot device, beaten and threatened with rape just to inspire the heroic deeds of the title character, Romeo Rajkumar (Shahid Kapoor).

Romeo, a hired thug, comes to town to join a gang headed by Shivraj (Sonu Sood), a drug lord at war with a rival opium dealer, Parmar (Ashish Vidyarthi). He falls in love with Chanda at first sight, becoming so lovestruck that it hampers his ability to carry out his duties on behalf of Shivraj.

Romeo’s love-induced impairment repeatedly endangers the life of his fellow henchmen and best friend, an apparently unnamed goon played by Mukul Dev. Their playfully antagonistic friendship is the highlight of the movie, even though it mostly disappears in the second half of the film.

The humor in Romeo’s friendship and in his pursuit of Chanda are hard to reconcile in the context of a movie that treats violence against women as a given. Chanda is brutally lashed with a belt a dozen times by her uncle, who objects to her romance with Romeo. In the very next scene, the same uncle is seen clowning around with his underlings, accompanied by a flatulence sound effect.

Is the audience supposed to ignore the beating the uncle administered to his niece just seconds earlier? Is he supposed to be a source of comic relief or a monster? It’s one thing for the uncle to abuse his underlings; they signed up for the job. Chanda is beaten because she is a woman.

In another scene, Shivraj threatens Chanda in order to provoke Romeo: “I’ll tie her up and rape her in front of you.” However, in the English subtitles, the word “rape” is censored, written as “r**e.” So rape is too vile a word to read, but not too vile an act to depict onscreen or use as a threat?

It’s so frustrating because R… Rajkumar is otherwise pretty good. Romeo and Chanda develop a sweet relationship over the course of the film. Kapoor shows a wide range in his performance, and his dancing is top-notch, as always. Sinha is brave and resolute while enduring all the abuse the script throws at her.

I wish I could recommend R… Rajkumar, but I just can’t. It portrays violence against women as a social norm, something a woman can only escape if she has a boyfriend with superhuman strength to defend her. Why couldn’t this just be a fun movie and not a regressive piece of social commentary?

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Worst Bollywood Movies of 2012

With only a few days remaining in 2012, it’s time to summarize the year in film. First up, my ten worst Hindi films of the year. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)

There’s always room for unfunny comedies on my “Worst” lists, and 2012 produced some spectacularly bad ones in Housefull 2, Bumboo, and Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal.

Dramas like Department (which unintentionally veered into comedy territory) and Married 2 America also made the cut.

Some of the most disappointing films of 2012 were aimed at families with young children. Joker and Delhi Safari failed to appeal to both kids and adults alike.

A common thread among three of the worst films of the year is the cinematic treatment of violence against women, specifically sexual violence. The lead character in the revenge drama Hate Story is blamed for her own rape, pregnancy, and forced sterilization because she made the mistake of falling in love with an evil man who wanted to ruin her life.

In the inept horror movie Ghost, the torture and dismemberment of a woman named Mary Magdallen — a Biblical figure often portrayed as a prostitute — is depicted in vivid, lingering detail.

One film goes beyond just depicting women as victims deserving of mistreatment by men. It actually promotes a stalker and sex criminal to the status of hero. My Worst Bollywood Movie of 2012 is Ekk Deewana Tha.

Ekk Deewana Tha is so reprehensible because it thinks it’s a heartwarming romance about star-crossed lovers. In reality, the film’s hero, Sachin (Prateik) should be jailed for what he does to the object of his desire, Jessie (Amy Jackson). Jessie repeatedly tells Sachin not to pursue her romantically, which he does by tailing her to work and following her around their apartment complex. As in real life, Jessie’s reasons for telling him to back off are immaterial. “No” means no, or at least it should.

At one point when they are alone in a train compartment, Sachin kisses Jessie despite her objections. Why? Because she was just so pretty that he couldn’t help himself.

Ekk Deewana Tha has been the leading contender for my worst film of the year for a long time, but it’s even more appalling in light of the fact that an Indian gang-rape survivor is currently battling for her life in a Singapore hospital. (Update: the 23-year-old gang -rape victim has died.) The notion that men can take whatever they want from women without consequence — worse still, that a man’s ceaseless pursuit of an unwilling woman is somehow virtuous — needs to die. A meaningful first step is for Bollywood to stop making vile movies like Ekk Deewana Tha that turn rapists into heroes.

Worst Bollywood Movies of 2012

  1. Ekk Deewana Tha — Buy at Amazon
  2. Ghost — Buy at Amazon
  3. Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal — Buy at Amazon
  4. Delhi Safari — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
  5. Joker — Buy at Amazon
  6. Hate Story — Buy at Amazon
  7. Married 2 America
  8. Department — Buy/rent at Amazon
  9. Bumboo — Buy at Amazon
  10. Housefull 2 — Buy/rent at Amazon

Previous Worst Movies Lists

Movie Review: Wanted (2009)

wanted-20091 Star (out of 4)

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Wanted is a movie with an identity crisis. Is it a gruesome action flick? A mafia thriller? A slapstick comedy? A scathing critique of police corruption? A romantic drama? A musical?

The film contains elements of all these genres, and as a result, Wanted is a schizophrenic mess.

Salman Khan plays Radhe, an uber-cool thug who can take down a roomful of bad guys single-handedly. He’s the kind of guy to whom you’d apply a tagline like, “Every man wants to be him. Every woman wants to be with him.”

Of course Radhe’s trumped up machismo makes him completely unrelatable and unlikable, but the filmmakers go with it anyway.

Radhe works as a hired gun with no allegiance to the feuding mafia dons who hire him. He’s got three loafer buddies who conveniently show up whenever the girl of Radhe’s dreams, Jhanvi (Ayesha Takia), walks by, triggering dream sequence dance numbers.

The beautiful Jhanvi is pursued by the lecherous, corrupt police inspector Talpade, giving Radhe plenty of opportunities to come to her rescue. Jhanvi falls for Radhe until he kills about twenty guys in front of her (hey, they shot at him first!), making her question whether he’s marriage material after all.

Eventually, the biggest don around comes to town, and things get really bloody. There are rapes, kidnappings and beatings, and the police seem unable or unwilling to do anything about it. Jhanvi has Radhe to protect her, but is that enough when the rest of the world is falling apart?

Now, don’t let me mislead you. The plot isn’t nearly as straightforward as I’ve made it seem. There are several unnecessary dance numbers, as well as a subplot involving Jhanvi’s portly landlord, whose every entrance is announced by either a dopey musical theme or elephant sound effects.

All of this nonsense occurs amidst graphic, bloody deaths and frequent instances of sexual violence against women. Mahesh Manjrekar is exceptionally slimy as Inspector Talpade, who at one point proposes to Jhanvi’s mom an arrangement in which he gets to rape both of them at will.

Immediately following this uncomfortable scene, the inspector walks outside and finds the fat landlord trying to hide behind a tiny potted plant. The inspector punches the landlord in the eye, knocking him down. When he comes up, his eye is surrounded by a circle of black makeup — an instant, comic black eye! Then the inspector does the same to the landlord’s other eye. Goofy music plays in the background.

The juxtaposition of these two scenes highlights Wanted‘s misogyny. That the movie seems to suggest that the only way for a woman to save herself from this systematic violence is to find a muscly guy like Salman Khan to protect her just worsens the insult.

Don’t worry, ladies. At least you get to see Salman with his shirt off. That makes up for Wanted‘s cavalier attitude toward rape, right?