Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal [The Incessant Fear of Rape] (2018)

Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal
Director: Aditya Kripalani
Writer: Aditya Kripalani
Cast: Shalini Vatsa, Chitrangada Chakraborty, Kritika Pande, Sonal Joshi, Vinay Sharma, Ahmareen Anjum
Seen on: 29.5.2019
[Screener Review.]

Content Note: rape

Vibha (Shalini Vatsa), Chitra (Chitrangada Chakraborty) and Shagun (Sonal Joshi) don’t know each other, but they end up sitting in the same taxi, part of a fleet especially for women. Their cab is being driven by Shaila (Kritika Pande) who owns the taxi company. As they are stuck in traffic, the four women get to talking: about the need for a taxi service like this. About the constant threat of being raped if you’re out just a little too late. About the entitlement of men. Even on this night, they can’t get home unbothered: a man (Vinay Sharma) starts hollering at them from his moped. But this time, they strike back and soon they have the guy locked up in an abandoned building, ready to teach him what it means to be afraid all the time.

Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal is an interesting, character-driven film on a feminist mission. It has a good cast and is well-told, although the ending – while thought-provoking – is a little unsatisfying. But that shouldn’t keep you from watching it: the film is well worth it.

The film poster showing Chitrangada Chakraborty.

The description of the film reminded me of Me quedo contigo, which has a similar set-up of women abducting and torturing a man. But where Me quedo contigo made it feel like that’s just what women do for fun if given half a chance, Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal gave the women actual motivation to do what they do.

And it’s not just that they have clear intentions (and each woman has her own reasons), they are developed as characters throughout the film – especially Vibha and Chitra (who, by the way, are absolutely made for each other and are obviously dating, even if the film never dares to make this explicit). We get to know more about their past bit by bit and they get to advance in their stories as well.

Shalini Vatsa in the film.

That the characters have a clear (feminist) intention doesn’t mean that the film entirely condones the measures to which they resort. Yes, we can all understand why they would end up where they end up and they set themselves a code to which they stick, but they are torturing a dude here. It’s not great what they do. The ending in particular makes sure that we realize that.

Even though I appreciate that complexity that allows shades of gray, I wouldn’t have minded if the film had let them get away with a cleaner win, I have to say. Especially because it obviously set out to make a feminist point. Sometimes it’s just nice to not give a damn about the morals (in fiction at least). That being said, I very much enjoyed the film and the journey it took me on.

Sonal Joshi, Shalini Vatsa, Chitrangada Chakraborty and Kritika Pande in the film.

Summarizing: interesting and definitely worth seeing.

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