Guest column: Let’s talk about consent

With her recent short-film, Closure, filmmaker Ria Singh addresses this basic concept that is much ignored in India
In Ria Singh’s (above) film Closure (inset), a guy asks a girl multiple times if he could come over to her place, due to the Bollywood notion of romance in which pursuit eventually leads to acceptance
In Ria Singh’s (above) film Closure (inset), a guy asks a girl multiple times if he could come over to her place, due to the Bollywood notion of romance in which pursuit eventually leads to acceptance
Published on Oct 09, 2021 09:39 PM IST
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By Ria Singh

When I worked on Closure, I realised that the conversation around consent doesn’t exist in India. This, when most of the film’s crew, including me, have experienced a breach of consent or breached it and caused pain to others.

I don’t know how any relationship can be called love without consent; without people listening to each other and knowing how to accept the word ‘no’. Yes, rejection may feel like a personal attack. But remember, it’s just a choice another person is voicing.  

Not a Bollywood romance  

In Closure, we had a guy ask a girl multiple times if he could come over to her place, due to the Bollywood notion of romance in which pursuit eventually leads to acceptance. Consent doesn’t exist in Bollywood. There haven’t been enough female writers and directors. Though the number is increasing.

The script came to me with a visual, the bathroom scene in the film, where the girl is in the shower and the guy keeps trying to enter. She raises her index finger and he remains outside. The film is weaved together through a conversations between two people. Because that’s it. That’s what one means when one says practise consent — communicate and understand and respect what the other has to say. Even when someone breaches consent, understanding can come through if you just talk. 

How to ask for consent or express a breach
How to ask for consent or express a breach

Basic but ignored 

No one should make peace with breach of consent. People are too comfortable with how the onus is always on the one whose consent is breached, with questions like ‘how did you not see the red flag?’, ‘why did you not leave?’.

If your partner does not realise a breach of consent has occurred, it changes what you feel about yourself and your relationship. There’s also a valid fear of physical danger when you say no.  

I don’t understand how it’s 2021 and we’re still questioning marital rape. How can you think you own someone because you have exchanged rings?

As told to Karishma Kuenzang

Ria Singh is a filmmaker who has written and directed music videos and commercials as well.

From HT Brunch, October 10, 2021

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Tuesday, October 19, 2021