For his directorial debut, journalist Suhaib Ilyasi has chosen a subject which is close to his heart — misuse of IPC 498A, that punishes the husband and his relatives for demanding dowry.
“My film, 498A —The Wedding Gift, is inspired by my friend Syed Makhdoom, who committed suicide in 2009 because his wife made false allegations against him, claiming that he had demanded dowry. I want to create awareness about the fact that women are not always the sufferers. My film traces the story of an NRI family that comes to India looking for an ideal bahu, and how they are falsely implicated,” says Ilyasi, who was himself charged under the same law.
“False allegations were made against me too. The film is not my story and doesn’t have incidents inspired from what happened to me, but the pain and the trauma that the character goes through in the film is mine,” he adds. The film stars actors Farida Jalal, Harsh Naagar and Shrishti Gautam.
Wasif Ali, of Save Family Foundation, has joined hands with Ilyasi to promote the film. “There are many men who get section 498A as a wedding gift. We hope that the film will raise a voice against the misuse of the provision,” says Ali.
In 2003, Delhi girl Nisha Sharma rose to fame, after she called the cops minutes before her wedding, because the prospective groom, Munish Dalal and his family were allegedly demanding dowry. However, nine years later, on February 29, the court acquitted Dalal in the case.
“I faced humiliation for nine years. People used to taunt and say, ‘Kitna dahej maanga tha?’ I was about to get a government job, but that was taken away and even my mother’s retirement benefits were withheld. My brother had a shop, but people took the media there as well. So, his work stopped. At that point in time, my sister-in-law was the only earning member in the family,” he says.
“I never spoke to the media before because I don’t want to become an iron man, like the iron lady, Nisha Sharma. I had a love cum arranged marriage in 2008..even then I didn’t speak about it,” says Dalal. He adds, “The film team contacted me and asked if I would get involved. I said yes. If you go to Patiala house you will see many young men who have become lawyers, fighting 498A.”
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