South Indian Actress Rekha Said Kamal Hassan Kissed Her Forcefully When She Was Just 16. The Concept Of Consent Remains Lost On Men.
The men in our country don’t seem to understand the concept of consent and this doesn’t surprise me. The root cause of this violation of consent doesn’t even lie in sex. It’s more about men feeling entitled to a sense of authority and superiority over women. Our patriarchal society doesn’t care about what women think, need and want. The weightage of our opinions is as good as a goat’s, even if it’s about our own personal lives. What we should wear, how long should we grow our hair, what time we should come home, etc – all these things and more seem like a matter of public interest. Somehow men in our country feel the need to take ownership of women’s lives and we are simply supposed to be their slave especially when it comes to sex.
You see, the reason why consent doesn’t matter to so many men in our country is because women’s opinions in general don’t matter much to them. Recently, South Indian actor Rekha once again spoke about the kiss that she was forcefully subjected to by Kamal Hassan in Punnagai Mannan (1986). She has spoken about it earlier too but now with the #MeToo movement getting such momentum, her story is creating ripples!
She was barely 16 when Director K Balachander told Kamal Hassan to kiss her in one particular scene. The two conveniently decided to not let Rekha in on it beforehand because she would have not agreed to it. How convenient. And it gets worse, because she wasn’t even an adult then, and considering how this dick move is traumatic for grownups, we can’t imagine how terrifying it would have been for a kid.
In an interview with The News Minute, Rekha revealed, “Before the scene, KB sir told me to close my eyes as I was about to die, and also asked Kamal sir whether he remembers the surprise idea. The next shot, he kissed me and we jumped. I was petrified since my dad wouldn’t be okay with the scene. Later, Suresh Krishna (KB’s assistant) sir tried to convince me saying it will not look vulgar on screen, it’s like a big king kissing a small girl. But still, I wasn’t convinced and told my mom that they cheated me. When I saw the film, everyone hooted for the scene, I don’t know why. However, a lot of people do not believe me even now.” She further added, “I’ve spoken about this incident in interviews before, but many refused to believe my side of the story. Both K. Balachander and Kamal got very angry with me as well. But I have to reveal the truth. He did kiss me without my consent when I was just a student.”
The filmmakers casually brushed it aside when she said she wouldn’t have agreed to it. Kamal Hassan never even apologised for carrying out this sexual harassment plan devised by Balachander. I can’t imagine how many women have been scarred with non-consensual sexual advances the filmmakers “surprise” them with or manipulate into.
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It may have meant nothing to these men but the fact that she is still talking about it 34 years later shows what a deep impact it must have had on her and understandably so. Netizens are angry and demanding an apology from Kamal Hassan and I feel it’s about time he gives one. After all, trying to dupe a young girl into a kiss on screen, and for what? added TRPs? speaks a lot about the kind of mentality with which the society works and we are not okay with it.