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rani mukerji, rani mukerji me too, rani mukerji rajeev masand, rani mukerji actress roundtable, rani mukerji metoo, rani mukerji trolled, indian express, indian express news
rani mukerji, rani mukerji me too, rani mukerji rajeev masand, rani mukerji actress roundtable, rani mukerji metoo, rani mukerji trolled, indian express, indian express news Rani Mukerji is being trolled on social media for her comment on #MeToo. (Source: CNN-News 18/YouTube)

“If they [women] are ever in a situation like that, then they should make sure that the man suffers right there and then…kick him between his legs or give him a jhappar.”

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It was Rani Mukerjis advice, solicited or not, on how women could tackle sexual assault. Part of an Actress Roundtable, flanked by Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt, Tabu, Taapsee Pannu and Anushka Sharma, she, however, was not asked how women should behave.

Film journalist Rajeev Masand, the host, sat down with the actors, each of whom had delivered compelling performances this year, and asked whether they will settle for a role that has nothing much to offer and if there are characters, essayed by them, they would like to befriend. What followed was some banter, laughter and light-hearted chatter. Then, like he had done in the actors roundtable a few days back, asked them of their opinion on the #MeToo movement.

Watch the video here.

“I would like to take this platform to say something which I have lived with in this industry for so many years. I think, as a woman, you have to be powerful within yourself. You have to believe that you are so powerful that if you ever come into a situation like that, you have the courage to say back off,'” Mukerji said while using her hands to express her vehemence. “I think everything relates to what you want out of your lives,” the actor added, by then a little short of thumping her chest, visibly impressed by her own words.

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“I think it is important for women to believe in themselves and say that if they dont want it to happen, it will not happen,” Mukerji went on with her sermon as if reliving the role of the cop she played in the 2014 film Mardani. Padukone interjected and tried to reason with her saying, “I dont think everyone is constructed that way.” Mardani, however, had a quick solution. “Those are the women we need to talk to and tell them, you guys need to change.”

As if playing out a scene from her own film, Mukerji refused to tolerate there was any reason to delay. When a woman is assaulted, Mukerji clearly believes, she should be powerful enough to process what is happening to her right at that moment, not falter, take charge of things, scream out a “back off” and, if possible, kick the man on his shins.

Sweet. Does she stop? No.

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03:21

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“In life, we cannot depend on how the other person will behave with us. We have to take responsibility for our own selves,” she said, when Sharma tried to show her logic by saying it is not women who should change. Rather, it should be the other way around. But, like always, she had another solution. How do women take responsibility for themselves? “Learn martial arts,” she said, throwing her own hands in the air as if exhibiting a latent talent we did not know she had.

Mukerji was the Messiah we all needed at the roundtable. Living in an ideal world, she believes that “back off” would end all instances of sexual assaults. The actors optimism was both enviable and absurd.

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Much has happened this year. People in positions of power were indiscriminately called out for misusing their privilege, rusted lids over forgotten stories were taken off, familiar faces defamiliarised owing to the deeds done by them. The Hichki actors homogeneous solution, when placed within such spatio-temporal context, sounds asinine. Her sermon on how women should be powerful enough to say back off can be aspirational but not the norm. Her words come from a position of privilege, refusing to recognise the power structure inherent in every relationship, and assuming that women behave and should behave in a similar way when sexually assaulted.

Diverse narratives have borne testimony to how blurred lines can be and how pervasive sexual assault is. It can happen anywhere and can be done by anybody. It can confound, baffle, break, mortify. It can spur one into action, it can also shock one into immobility.

Does the act become more excusable in the absence of a resounding refusal? No. Does it make the survivor any less powerful? No.

Rani, it makes them more human.

Original Article

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The Indian Express

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