Aparna Sen’s The Rapist starring Arjun Rampal and Konkona Sen Sharma explores the complex questions of What makes a man rapist through the lives of three prime characters subtly.
Aparna Sen is an Indian filmmaker and actress who is often haunted by questions like what makes a man commit crimes like rape. In the pursuit of her answers, she made ‘The Rapist’ starring Konkona Sen Sharma, Arjun Rampal and Tanmay Dhanania. “Nobody is born a rapist. Like others, they also go through various stages of life until something happens to change them. What is it? Is it genetic, the environment he grows up in, entrenched patriarchy or a feeling that he can get away with it because nobody will find out as the girl will be ashamed to talk about it,” began Aparna Sen.
Often rape is loosely coined as a symbol of male supremacy or power than sex. In a patriarchal society like India, the haunt for ‘What makes man rapist’ also leads to answers like man believing in patriarchy unconditionally. “Some of them (rapists) might believe patriarchy so much that they resent the fact that women can work as a man and become successful. It is a very complex question that I have tried to explore in my film through the three prime characters,” Aparna Sen said.
The trailer released sets the pulse while showing us a glimpse of the lives of the three prime characters after the horrific incident. “As said earlier, I have tried to explore the effect of the horrific incident in the lives of the main characters but subtly,” she added.
Aparna Sen movies always have one thing in common – a mesmerizing cast whose acting skills blur the line between reality and a movie. “Whenever I select somebody for a role, apart from their acting capabilities, their looks always play an important part. They have to look like the character. Else, I conduct a lot of workshops,” she said.
This time too, it was no different. “For this movie, I did not tell them anything. The actors, including Chetan Sharma, Alok Pandey and others, were so good,” said Aparna Sen, adding, “Like every time, we did do a lot of workshops to free their emotions. In Bengal, we did workshops discussing and enacting the past of the characters.”
Talking more about these workshops and their importance, she said, “During the workshop, Kanishka Agarwal used to ask everybody to meditate and played calming music. In one such workshop, she asked a bit conscious Geetanjali Rao to roll on the carpet. She was not allowed to pull her dress down during the process. After the process, Geetanjali had admitted that it freed her.”
Working with Konkona Sen Sharma and Arjun Rampal
It was her sixth movie with daughter Konkona Sen Sharma, who has two national awards in her kitty. “Konkona understands my signal very easily. Over time, she has become a seasoned actor. And I am saying this as the director, not as a mother. She is every director’s dream. They can rely on her to portray the character perfectly on screen,” said director Aparna Sen, who won nine national awards.
Konkona Sen Sharma and Arjun Rampal had played the lead characters of Mr and Mrs Malik in the movie. “Arjun had something noble in his look, which was required for his role in the movie. The character Aftab Malik is a highly principled man who is a liberal and an activist. He is a very understated character. I had watched him acting in Rajneeti and Rock On! I noticed that he tends to underact, which made him perfect for the role,” she added.
Both actors had attended the workshops to get to the character’s skin. “During the workshops, both Arjun and Konkona had to sit and look at each other but not speak. Slowly, they would get emotional and embrace each other,” she said.
Satyajit Ray as a mentor
All most all her films have made India proud globally. With a career spanning over six decades, Sen has worked with lots of actors and directors. “Satyajit Ray is always my favourite director. He was my mentor. If he did not encourage me, I would not have made 36 Chowringhee Lane,” Sen said.
The director and actor had developed a taste for cinema because of her access to world movies from a very early age. “Both my parents were members of the film society, and thus I had access to world cinema from a very early age. My father never asked me to be a part of the film industry. I chose it,” Aparna Sen added.
Sen believes over time, the language of movies has become more modern.“ OTT platforms have exposed us to cinemas from across the globe. People are bored of the formula method of making movies. The online platform has now blurred the line between art and commercial cinema,” she noted.