Dear Mr. Kashyap,
I wanted to write a sincere note of thanks commending you on your recent efforts to give the women of India a quick fix to eve teasing. I recently came across your short film, ‘The day after everyday’ that went viral all over the internet. It was a very enlightening experience, not only because self-defense lessons for women in India is a nearly unknown concept, but also because after your remarkable yet abstract sort of genre of films such as Dev D, The girl in yellow boots, Gulal, Last Train to Mahakali etc, you are now seen as a humanitarian philanthropist who really cares for other people, not just the commercial success of your films. So yes, you did a good thing. For that, I would pat your back. And of course, for your pure talent to cast brilliant actors such as Sandhya Mridul in your recent short film.
I hope I’ve said enough good things about you, your work and your talent to get to the next part of my letter. Let me tell you that I really appreciate your efforts in the form of this film. Having worked in the media industry myself, I am aware of the amount of work and energy that goes into putting together a powerful project like this one. And to allot your precious time for a cause like this one is really your greatness.
But I have some fairly simple issues to bring to your notice about this short film. Something that really bothers me about this short film is the some what half-thought out, ambiguous message that it sends out. I am not entirely sure what to make of the quick fix solution that you’ve so blatantly used in this film. Violence. Is it ever a solution?
In all of my twenty-five years in Mumbai, I’ve survived eve teasing, lewd comments, random strangers feeling me up on the roads and inside public transport, men whipping out their private parts and wagging them at me, men staring down my unmentionables and being filmed and photographed in public places. So I can assure you that I come from a place of experience and this issue is of utmost importance to me. Having said that, not at any point during these years did I feel like just walking away. At every moment in my life, when a man was doing these absolutely disgusting things to me, my first instinct was always to slap him across his face. But at that very moment, I would turn around and find myself alone among a crowd of lechers and other helpless women equally harassed by these soulless men. With not a single policeman or savior in sight, I would often think about my parents and the repercussions slapping a man in public would bring. Would I be followed every day till the day I was found alone and helpless and then the worst would happen? Would I ever be able to leave the house without expecting an acid attack? What would my parents have to go through if any of this happened to me?
This was all I kept thinking about when I watched your film. I am glad that the protagonist in your film had two other women friends to support her. But will she or any women in her position always have a friend to drop their bags, tie their dupattas by the side and start a Bruce Lee type fight in the middle of the road for a little more than ten minutes with no cop in sight?
And say they beat these bad boys black and blue. Then what? Is that the end of the fight against eve teasing? This is not a Karan Johar movie, Mr. Kashyap, where everyone lives happily ever after at the end. Do you know the repercussions of beating and kicking a group of men in public? Haven’t you heard of revenge raping? Haven’t you heard of women being raped and murdered for a hurting a man’s ego? Get real, Sir.
And say that these men are taken in to custody by the police and they are put in jail for a few days. How much time does a man have to do for eve teasing anyway? A week? one month or two? What happens when they comes back? Because surely they don’t have to go to a rehab or do compulsory community service after serving time. It’s not like they are being watched over after their jail time. Sure enough, they are out on the same corner doubling up their strength to retaliate. What happens then? Who protects these brave women then? Most of us women don’t have parents with high-level bureaucratic contacts. Nobody to help us fight the society and the judicial system after an unforeseen event.
Think again about your film, Mr. Kashyap. Is a martial arts class the answer to the attitude that men have towards women? Even the cops in our country believe that it’s actually the woman’s fault if she gets raped. Either her clothes are too slutty or her upbringing is to be blamed. In a country where men believe that women shouldn’t have careers and that they should restrict themselves to the kitchens, is bashing up a few bad men going to help?
Repercussions, Mr. Kashyap. This way or the other, the woman is always the loser. Unless you bring up your boys right. Unless every parent in the nation makes it their own personal goal to teach their boys to respect women. To not only consider them as equals but to stop taking pictures of their breast and pass them along as cheap MMSes. Ingrain in them the idea of treating women as peers and not categorizing them based on their looks.
The onus is on everyone out there, educated and uneducated, to teach their boys not to commoditize women based on their backsides and upper body, but to see them as intelligent human beings not restricted to being a man’s nanny. Why do men need to be babied anyway?
Just like everything else, there is a real solution to this problem and it lies at the bottom of a chain of reforms. A change that needs to be made at the grass root level. Violence never is and will never be the solution to any problem, let alone eve teasing.
Hope this helps!