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Bollywood Film “Pink” focuses on India’s Struggle with sexual violence against Women

Playing to packed halls, the movie underlines India's struggle with patriarchal attitudes and the need for a male-dominated society to respect choices women make

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Shohini Ghosh, a professor of mass communication at Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi, says the most radical message of "Pink" is that "it is not just a question of [a woman's] right to say no [to sexual advances], but the right to say no even when your sexual conduct may be trangressive of normative conventions." VOA

The Bollywood film “Pink,” which is about three women who are victims of unwanted sexual advances, has struck a deep chord in a country where sexual violence against women hit headlines after the horrific 2012 gang rape of a college student in the Indian capital.

Playing to packed halls, the movie underlines India’s struggle with patriarchal attitudes and the need for a male-dominated society to respect choices women make.

Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, who plays the role of a defence attorney, says, “I think Pink is not film — it has become a movement.”

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The story centres on how three young men vow to teach a lesson to the three working, single women living in New Delhi after one of them hits one of the men with a liquor bottle when he fails to accept her rejection of his advances. The man has powerful political connections.

The girls are stalked, and the one who struck the man is sexually assaulted and charged with attempted murder.

The film "Pink," starring Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan, sends out a powerful message about the need to respect choices women make. (A. Pasricha/VOA)
The film “Pink,” starring Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan, sends out a powerful message about the need to respect choices women make. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

Women blamed

In the courtroom drama that follows, the lawyer for the young man portrays the women as having loose character because they party, drink, live away from their families and wear modern clothes.

The defense counsel focuses his case on the fact that his client rejected the man’s advances. “I said no,” she says.

He wraps up his case with a speech that has made a powerful impact.

” ‘No’ is an entire sentence in itself,” the defence lawyer says. “No means no, and when somebody says it, you stop … and the woman could be your friend, your partner, your girlfriend, or a sex worker, or even if it’s your own wife.”

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The words have won a massive endorsement among audiences and on social media in a male-dominated society where the notion of consent is virtually nonexistent. Women say they feel empowered after seeing the film, in which the charges against the woman are dropped.

‘A real-life situation’

Many said they could empathise easily with what was depicted. Pooja Prasad, 28, an art and culture consultant in New Delhi, never felt like she was watching a movie as she saw “Pink”.

“It just felt like a real-life situation that we go through every day,” she said.

The Indian capital is regarded as one of the country’s most unsafe cities for women.

Shohini Ghosh, a professor of mass communication at Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi, said, “The film’s most radical message is that it is not just a question of the right to say no, but the right to say no even when your sexual conduct may be trangressive of normative conventions.”

That is being seen as important in a country where it is often suggested that rape victims bring attacks upon themselves with their conduct.

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“If she goes on a rape trial, the question is of her character,” Ghosh said.

Incidents of rape in India have highlighted the problem of sexual violence in both rural and urban areas.

In the country’s sprawling metros such as New Delhi, many see this as a clash of the old and new India.

Changing male mindset

In the last two decades, the rapid pace of economic change has brought many women into India’s metros, made them financially independent and led them to push back traditional boundaries. But that often leads to conflict if it is not matched by a change in male attitudes, as the movie “Pink” shows.

Although laws to deal with violence against women have been strengthened, women activists have stressed that societal transformation will happen only when the problem is tackled at the level of male mindsets.

After watching "Pink" with a friend, Jaya Meena said she thinks the film underscores the idea that boys should be brought up to respect women. (A. Pasricha/VOA)
After watching “Pink” with a friend, Jaya Meena said she thinks the film underscores the idea that boys should be brought up to respect women. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

Among those who hope that the message of “Pink” will make a difference is Jaya Meena, who recently completed her postgraduate studies. She said it underlined the need to focus on how boys are raised.

“We only teach girls to behave according to our culture,” she said, adding that boys should be made to “understand how to respect women.”

The Bollywood movie will add new energy to the debate on the treatment of women that has been underway in India for some time.

“The film is a product of its times, and it is actually representing to us the different, conflictive points of view at this moment that exist in society,” Ghosh said. (VOA)

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Paradise Papers: The “loot” of Nation’s Wealth by the “ultra-rich” of the Country

India ranks 19th out of 180 countries in Paradise Papers.

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One of the largest belongs to Mukesh Ambani.
One of the largest belongs to Mukesh Ambani. Wikimedia Commons

By Salil Gewali

India boasts of having one of the largest and expensive modern mansions in the world – second only to the palace built by Sultan of Brunei. That belongs none other than a filthy rich Mukesh Ambani. But very contrastingly, India has also often been disgraced for its maximum number of citizens who spend their nights, their weeks, their months and years in the open pavement even in the cutting cold of the winter. Yes, the country bears the burden of the largest number of poor people in the world – approximately 276 million people live below poverty line. What a vast difference between the haves – the super-rich, and the have-nots.

The “loot” of nation’s wealth by the “ultra-rich” of the country had been going on quietly until the German newspaper brought out to the open the details of Paradise Papers from Appleby, the Bermuda-based legal service provider. Needless to say, for the ultra-rich, the name of the game is “tax planning”, offshore finance, the creation of off-shore entities, et al. In the eyes of our authorities, it is about “deemed lapses in corporate governance, alleged fund diversion, irregularities in disclosure norms,” and so on. One wonders, in this scenario, what is at stake for the common man?

  As for the common man, his humble “paradise” is being looted; his God-given right to share his due is throttled. His children’s chances to come up in life, if at all there are any, are choked. His right to a “fair living” is gradually drifting apart. Because the very means of his life is plundered by a few ultra-rich. On a wider outlook, at the national level, the country’s wealth is burgled and robbed. Then who are these plunderers?

There are more than 700 of them from our country in the disclosed list of having Paradise Papers– the disclosure is still incomplete – of Paradise Papers. Very funnily, these names include persons, who the common man relies on, worship, holds in high esteem and vows to give his life for. Film star Amitabh Bachchan, who is often worshipped, Union Minister of State  Jayant Sinha, BJP Rajya Sabha M.P., R.K. Sinha, Corporate tycoon Vijay Mallya, Corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, Harsha Moily, son of former UPA Minister Veerappa Moily, Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt’s wife Dilnashin, son of former UPA powerhouse and Central Minister P. Chidambaram, former Union Minister Sachin Pilot, and several others who is who of India’s Corporate world, politics, and other fields. Interestingly, What more? Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain, Lord Ashcroft, the most prominent British politician, U.S. Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, Shakira, Madonna and notoriously disgraced Harvey Weinstein, for his sexual wrongdoings and so on and so forth.

In spite of strict regulations in every country, it would be interesting to know, how these celebrities, politicians, multinationals, and the ultra-rich individuals are hiding Paradise Papers. I’m not wrong that rules in every country have built-in loopholes. In other words, rules of every country have provided loopholes to the cunning and crafty to circumvent them. And we have got them in abundance. The very fact that our country ranks 19th out of 180 countries in Paradise Papers is certainly not something that we can cheer about.

 The wealthy form shell companies, “foundations”, and “trusts” as a cover to hide their money from tax authorities. They form “offshore” accounts that are handled by law firms specializing in these “offshore’ expertise. To the world, their forceful argument is “offshore” banking which is legal. But, this is practiced by only the ultra-rich to evade tax. They take advantage of the legal loop-hole by taking shelter under the tax treaties by our Government.

  But frankly speaking, will they ever be able to “use” that wealth? I don’t think it’s possible in the practical world. They can’t even see, touch and feel their wealth they have once dispatched. Not even after 500 years, they can use it if they ever could live.  Because these super-rich people already have countless wealth which is in their various kind of treasury vaults.  Is it not the paradise of illusion then?

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter @SGewali.

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Sanjay Dutt’s wife Manyata Dutt Denies WrongDoing

Manyata Dutt denies having Paradise Papers.

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Sanjay Dutt's wife Manyata Dutt accused having Paradise Papers
Sanjay Dutt's wife Manyata Dutt accused having Paradise Papers. ians

Mumbai: Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt’s wife, named among those in the ‘Paradise Papers’ accused of parking their wealth in tax havens abroad, says all her financial dealings are above board.

Dilnashin figures among the 714 Indian links named in the ‘Paradise Papers’, said the Indian Express in a banner story done as part of a global probe carried out by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Her spokesperson said in a statement: “As per the requirements of provisions of Income Tax Act, 1961, all the properties, company or body corporate or shares in any company are declared in the balance sheet.”

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan has been named as part of the leaks, regarding shareholding in a Bermuda company acquired before the 2004 Liberalised Remittance Scheme kicked in.

A day before the big story broke, Amitabh had penned his thoughts on being named in the Bofors scandal and the earlier Panama Papers leaks.

“Tomorrow there could be more… And the process of our cooperation shall continue,” he wrote in a blog post on Sunday.

On the Panama Papers of last year, he wrote: “We were asked for reactions, for responses, for justification or not, for replies to their investigative queries… Two instant replies were given out by us… Of denial and misuse of the name. They were printed… but the questions continued.

“The fullest cooperation has been extended at all hours as dutiful citizens. And even after, if there is any more query that needs to be addressed, we shall comply.”( IANS)

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At this age and time of my life, I seek peace and freedom from prominence: Amitabh Bachchan

This is what Amitabh Bachchan has to say on the notice of BMC.

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Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan. Wikimedia Commons
  • Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan says at 75 he only seeks freedom from prominence, which has seen him face allegations in the Bofors scandal, Panama Papers case and most recently for “illegal construction” on his property.

“At this age and time of my life, I seek peace and freedom from prominence… To be left to lead the last few years of my life with and within myself… I do not seek epithets, I abhor them… I do not seek headlines, I do not deserve them/. I do not seek acknowledgment, I am not qualified for it,” Amitabh posted on his blog on Sunday.

Amitabh’s post comes just days after his lawyer denied any illegal construction on the actor’s property in Mumbai’s Goregaon East area in relation to a notice sent by the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

“The mentioned ‘notices’ have yet to be seen or served to me. But I guess in time it shall come.”

In the lengthy post, Amitabh said when there are accusations, “at times, I would prefer to correct the manner… At times it is prudent to remain quiet”.

But on an issue such as the BMC allegation, he said it’s the “system that shall resolve it, not the media”.

The actor, who has been in the industry for over four decades, also cited past examples, such as what he went through when his family’s name cropped up in the Bofors scandal.

“For years we were grilled, declared traitors, abused and humiliated by the hour for several years…,” he wrote, and further recalled how they moved against a UK paper and won.

He said how after almost 25 years later, their name was cleared in the scandal.

“When the media carried the news here in India, the press during one of its interactions with me asked me what I was going to do about it… Whether I would seek information on who did it or seek retribution.

“What retribution and information will I seek’ Will it take away the years of suffering and mental torture that we went through’ Will it cure… Will it rest’ No, it will not… So I told them, the media, I do not wish to make any comment on it… the matter is over for me.”

Amitabh Bachchan also brought up his mention in the Panama Papers leaks.

“We were asked for reactions, for responses, for justification or not, for replies to their investigative queries… Two instant replies were given out by us… Of denial and misuse of the name. They were printed… but the questions continued.”

“The fullest cooperation has been extended at all hours as dutiful citizens. And even after, if there is any more query that needs to be addressed, we shall comply,” he added.

In the end, he quoted a Jewish joke.

“A Jew passes away and goes to Heaven, knocks on the door of the Lord, and having suffered the ostracized life that the community has, asks the Lord: ‘Lord! Is it true that we are the chosen people” The Lord looked benevolently at the Jew and in a most gentle voice replied: ‘Yes my son .. you are the chosen people’. And the Jew replied: ‘Dear Lord… Would you mind choosing someone else for a change… Coz we’ve had enough!’”

Amitabh Bachchan concluded: “I often wish that for myself.”(IANS)