The show ‘Ranjha Ranjha Kardi’ (2019) has quickly gained itself household popularity and respect. It does not fail to surprise the audience in a way that attacks a big toxic and ugly societal truth, that of marital rape, forced marriage, and unparallel relationships. Well, it is starring Iqra Aziz as Noori and Imran Ashraf as Bhola, a mentally challenged man.
Do you remember the first time you learned or heard of Marital Rape? A concept that sounded so foreign, so alarmingly woke, so right, so freaking fair?! Do you remember struggling to explain it to your parents? Mothers? Aunts? Cousins? Friends? Do you remember the first time you talked about it on social media?
This is the first time that Iqra, the protagonist on the show talks about the rape scene.
For some, this is the first time after Baaghi and Udaari people can talk about something so sensitive and yet so very well needed to be talked about. Baaghi was able to change our perception of women, while a lot of people had a lot of things to say about it, it tried to shine some light on the struggle of women of a certain background, trying to change their lives until they are drenched in the murky red venom of male pride and ego that results in cultural tragedies like killing in the name of honor.
Udaari presented a similar thought exercise, it raised the issue of child rape, something that millions of children, both female and male go through at the hands of uncles, guardians, household staff, neighbors, sometimes even police and agents of the government who are supposed to protect you inflict such horrendous violence on lives, which is both unforgivable and intolerable.
While we as a nation may not be ready to talk about the gender binary and how that’s toxic, about masculinity and its roots in the minds of women who objectify themselves for the patriarchal pursuit and satisfaction of male needs or wants, while we may not be talking about the world’s speed onto the growing acceptance and identification of the LGBTQ+ but, we are trying. Trying is not enough.
The slow speed is not enough, especially as more and more cases (both, those reported and unreported) pile on, with no due process for them, no serving of justice for ain’t nobody in our broken system (something that is a global issue, not only local).
But, there is a new found, and rightly found a vehicle for the dissemination of this discourse, and that is through television. Sadly funny, that in a world where the #Metoo and #Timesup has changed so much internationally, we are still stuck on the very traditional means present within media, these are highly ill-advised, sub-standard, and not as well critiqued. However, talking about these nuances is now possible, and chances are that people will actually watch and learn about them, without calling it perversion or shamefully obscene. Because, it might have been second nature some time ago, but television just got responsible and we are loving the effect on people. Especially those who might not have known before about human rights, self-autonomy, right to sexual protection and anti-harassment, anti gendered violence laws.
Are the shows the best way to present these nuances? Maybe they are too glamorized, too styled up. Is that necessary for the message to be delivered, sadly, no? But, does the device work for masses, in a quick and painless way, well yes. So, to break ice perhaps, this late effort is not a bad effort. We are glad that finally women can know this.