“Aadami ka khud pe bharosa uski taqat hoti hai…tum aur main..Hum kamzor nahi hain”
“The strength of a human being is having faith in themselves… you and me, we are not weak.”
It was the clash of the titans at the Hindi box office this week. I chose the Hritik Roshan movie, Kaabil. Hritik is one of my favourite actors. He is a very talented and very handsome actor. Hritik had unfair advantage coming into movies as an actor and director’s son. However, he is a really worthy recipient of the numerous awards he has received in his career. He has worked hard. He has a powerful and commanding presence. He always looks good and stylish. His dance moves are incredible. I have never liked Shahrukh Khan, which is why I didn’t watch his film which was released on the same day as Kaabil. Shahrukh has a funny voice and is not good looking. He has no presence. I can’t think of one film which he has made which I have thought has been a good movie. In fact, he turned down a lot of the movies which I thought were good. This is just as well, as he would have spoilt them.
Kaabil is a love story which changes into a revenge story. Rohan, a blind man, is the lead character. Rohan’s blind wife, Supriya, is raped by two men while he is out at work. Rohan and Supriya complain to the police. However, the two men are supported by a corrupt politician. Rohan and Supriya are prevented from getting the appropriate forensic evidence in a medical report. There is no other evidence that can convict the rapists. The police and the legal system does not help Rohan and Supriya. In fact, the law is in the pocket of the corrupt politician and on his side. Supriya is then raped by the two men again when she believes that her ordeal is over. She kills herself as a result. Rohan seeks revenge for the suicide which is really a murder.
Kaabil is addressing an open wound in India. It seems a response to a rape case which happened about five years ago. I will refresh the reader’s memory:
The 2012 Delhi gang rape case involved a rape and fatal assault that occurred on 16 December 2012 in Munirka, a neighbourhood in South Delhi. The incident took place when a 23-year-old female physiotherapy intern, Jyoti Singh, was beaten, gang raped, and tortured in a private bus in which she was traveling with her friend, Awindra Pratap Pandey. There were six others in the bus, including the driver, all of whom raped the woman and beat her friend. Eleven days after the assault, she was transferred to a hospital in Singapore for emergency treatment, but died from her injuries two days later (Wikipedia).
These brutal rapes in India, which can result in the death of innocent women, call for justice. However, India has a problem. It doesn’t prosecute men effectively enough or severely enough for raping women. The conviction rate is terrible. Not only this, but many people hide the fact that their daughters have been raped. The reason is that raping is considered to be a “looting of honour”. Honour is everything to many Indians and therefore they hide the crime.
The problem that the film confronts is how to deal with brutal rapes and the immunity that the rapists have in Indian society. While I am sure that the feminists will criticise the film, what it addresses is the male perspective on matters. It is not just a woman that feels the injustice of these brutal and fatal rapes. Indian men feel the injustice. They feel it particularly keenly because it is the duty and honour of an Indian man to protect the women in his family. It is the duty of an Indian man to punish anyone that hurts the women in his family, whatever the Western-derived law says about the matter. In India, a real man is bound by a strict obligation to protect women. If he cannot protect his women and punish their oppressors, then he is not a real man.
Rohan confronts the injustice of the rapist that just walks off scot-free after destroying a woman’s life, maybe even ending it. He is a response to injustice. Not just the injustice of a society in which a woman cannot feel safe by herself in a city. Not just the injustice of a society in which male predators feel sexual desire for brutally raping another human being. Not just the injustice of a society in which the law is made so that they can just walk free. Rohan is a response to the injustice of a society in which the people who are given every privilege in life as men and as the rich and powerful in the majority of a population can inflict suffering on those below their station.
Rohan stands for the common man. His blindness is a metaphor. People may think that his blindness is a weakness, that he has no power, that he can do nothing. However, Rohan is “Kaabil” (capable, able). He is able enough to take on the entire legal system, the corrupt politicians and power of India and the rapists. He can take up arms against the whole world and its arms of power on behalf of the woman in his life. Because he is the common Indian man. And the duty of the common Indian man is to protect his women and punish their oppressors. That is the strength of an Indian man.
The film’s message is clear. I will repeat the line of dialogue from the beginning of this review: “Aadami ka khud pe bharosa uski taqat hoti hai…tum aur main..Hum kamzor nahi hain” (“The strength of a human being is having faith in themselves… you and me, we are not weak.”) The film is meant to empower the common man. It tells a common man that we must fight the system. We must not doubt ourselves and our power. We must stick to our principles and our duty and honour as men, whatever the law is and says and does.
Rohan says that if there were an eye for an eye, then then the world would be perfect. If everyone were blind, there would be no crime. If a man took upon himself the duty of punishing the oppressors of women, there would no longer be rape. To think revenge and to be revenge is the solution to the rapists. There is no involvement of law. There is only an individual against the male dominated world of politics, law and the middle classes. It is a statement that few in the West would make, but it has a truth to it. This is why Kaabil is a great film. It is a good response to the injustice in the world. Because our law is no longer about justice. Our politics are no longer about justice. Our society and our men are no longer about justice. Kaabil is a timely film for the world, not just India. Rohan says to his beautiful wife in the film: “Ab toh meri zindage ka makshad bhi yahi hai…..Ki main itna kaabil ban sakun..Ki tumhare har sapne ko..pura kar paaun” (“Now it is the aim of my life to become so capable that I can fulfil every one of your dreams”). It is a promise to a woman from a man. A real man promises a woman the desire of her heart. And the desire of a woman’s heart is justice. This is why Rohan is a real man.