At a recent press meet with respect to an upcoming film titled Peranbu, starring Mammootty, the filmmaker goes on a roll praising the filmmaker Ram and then showering praises upon the actor.
“This film is full of Mammootty Sir. If he were a woman and younger, I would’ve fallen in love with him. Had I been a girl, I would’ve raped him. Such a textbook of acting,” he says, with his words succeeded by a lot of applause.
The fact that he equates a sexual violence, a horrible assault on one’s body and mind, to that of a compliment completely escapes him and the audience alike. Rape is no joke, and should never be uttered under the same breath as a joke. It’s a reality for women, the LGBTQ community, children, men, and practically anybody who are violated without their consent. It’s an assault that is so rampant that we have come to a point that people normalise it in films, pop culture, social media, and what not.
Rape is the fourth most common crime against women in India. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2013 annual report, 24,923 rape cases were reported across India in 2012. And as for 2018, it’s gotten worse. The Kathua rape case has only furthered the point that children are not safe, too, and it’s just as bad for them.
So while a member of the so-called intelligentsia of Tamil cinema thinks rape is a compliment, it not only reduces the heinous crime to a joke, it further invalidates the screams and cries of help of victims whose stories have gone unheard, unreported, shot down, or simply never heard. Or worse, when their violence has been made light of. It’s not just in poor taste, it’s rather appalling and, given the kind of fans he has, one can only help they call him out instead of encouraging him on.
Rape as a crime against women can only be taken seriously if one doesn’t brush it off as a joke, as a form of admiration. It’s insulting to those who have endured it, it’s insulting to those who are constantly in the fear of it. There’s a reason why he would’ve thought twice of making this joke had he been speaking about an actress, as opposed to an actor. And yet, the tenacity of such violence goes undetected in his head when he likens it to a compliment for a man.
So, Mysskin. While your films are topnotch, it’s hard to disassociate you from the utterly crass “compliment” you dished out that further implies your understanding of rape, gender violence.