India Insight

As India gang rape trial ends, a debate over what has changed

The serial rapist stalks her for days. Eventually he breaks into her home when she is alone and tries to rape her at knifepoint. But she somehow manages to overpower and trap him.

Now, with the help of her two housemates, she has to decide what to do. Kill him and bury him in the garden? Or call the police, who are known to be insensitive and may let him off?

The plot is from “Kill the Rapist?” – a provocative new Bollywood thriller which aims to embolden Indian women to report sexual assaults – and to deter potential rapists by making them “shiver with fear before even thinking of rape” the film’s Facebook page says.

Controversial? Yes, but it is part of a growing awareness in India about violence against women since the high-profile fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus in December.

“Like most Indians, I had become used to hearing about rapes and other crimes against women. I would read about them, then turn the page and forget,” says Siddhartha Jain, the 39-year-old producer of “Kill the Rapist?”

Women still feel unsafe in India’s rape capital

Assurances from the police and a new anti-rape law have done little to make the streets of New Delhi safer for women, especially for those using public transport, interviews conducted by the Reuters India Insight team show.

The December incident, in which a 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist died two weeks after she was gang-raped in a moving bus, raised questions over women’s safety in India and sparked debate over how men treat women all over the country.

A teenager has been sentenced to three years in juvenile detention and a court is expected to announce its verdict on the four adults accused of the crime on Tuesday. (Update: Four men convicted and sentenced to death)

Women and New Delhi: the views of travellers

By Aditya Kalra and Anuja Jaiman

Assurances from the police and a new anti-rape law have done little to make the streets of New Delhi safer for women, especially for those using public transport, interviews conducted by the India Insight team show.

The India Insight team travelled in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses and Delhi Metro trains and spoke to commuters.

Here are edited excerpts from conversations:

Farhana Ahmed, 22, student; travelling in a bus
I only feel safe travelling by bus in the day time because it’s crowded and there are less chances of being in trouble. I prefer not to board a bus after five in the evening. Whenever we go out after 9 p.m., we have experienced eve-teasing. I think it’s better not to wear dresses at night.

Timeline of events: The Delhi gang rape case

In December last year, a 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist died two weeks after she was gang-raped and mutilated in a moving bus in Delhi, raising questions over women’s safety in the capital and sparking debates over their treatment in India.

Here is a timeline of key events in the case:

December 16:  A 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist is beaten, raped for almost an hour and thrown out of a moving bus in New Delhi by six people. Her male friend, a software engineer, is beaten with a metal rod.

December 17-22: The woman remains in Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital. Police arrest suspects. Hundreds of students and activists block roads in Delhi and march to the president’s palace, breaking through police barricades. Police use batons, tear gas and water cannon to turn back protestors, who demand the death penalty for the accused and safety assurances for women.

India speaks 780 languages, 220 lost in last 50 years – survey

No one has ever doubted that India is home to a huge variety of languages. A new study, the People’s Linguistic Survey of India, says that the official number, 122, is far lower than the 780 that it counted and another 100 that its authors suspect exist.

The survey, which was conducted over the past four years by 3,000 volunteers and staff of the Bhasha Research & Publication Centre (“Bhasha” means “language” in Hindi), also concludes that 220 Indian languages have disappeared in the last 50 years, and that another 150 could vanish in the next half century as speakers die and their children fail to learn their ancestral tongues.

The 35,000-page survey is being released in 50 volumes, the first of which appeared on Sept. 5 to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Indian philosopher Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, who was also the country’s second president. The last one is scheduled to come out in December 2014.

Bollywood movie review: Shuddh Desi Romance

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

The hero of Maneesh Sharma‘s Shuddh Desi Romance is a confused young man. Raghu is never sure of what he wants. As a character in the film puts it, Raghu just flirts with himself.

Gayatri, on the other hand, knows exactly what she wants from life. She is an independent woman – and the man of the house – figuring out living expenses, insisting that her live-in boyfriend takes turns cooking and is unapologetic about having had relationships in the past.

These are characters poles apart from their Bollywood stereotypes. They don’t make a big deal about their love life, dealing with it as casually as one would drink a beverage or smoke a cigarette – at least on the outside. All this bravado ends when it comes to marriage.

Markets this week: Sensex gains 3.5 percent, ICICI surges 19 percent

The BSE Sensex rose 3.5 percent for the week ending September 6, as sentiment on Dalal Street was boosted after Raghuram Rajan took charge as the new governor of the Reserve Bank of India.

Rajan kicked off his term with a bang on Wednesday, announcing several measures to support the rupee and unveiling steps to liberalise financial markets and the banking sector. Hopes that the government might announce a one-time hike in diesel prices to cut its steep import bill also helped the stock market.

The rupee rose to its strongest against the dollar in nearly two weeks on Friday, rallying on growing expectations the unit has been badly oversold. A Reuters poll shows that the Indian unit has likely bottomed out.

Duniyadari trumps Bollywood star power for Marathi magic

While Bollywood film Chennai Express was steamrolling its way to success, another movie was on the fast train too, but not many people noticed.

Duniyadari (Worldliness), a Marathi-language film based on a novel by Suhas Shirwalkar and released in July, has gone on to become the highest grossing Marathi movie of all time.

The film, a light-hearted and somewhat clunky take on a group of friends in 1970′s Pune, opened to full houses, and sustained its winning run even in the face of a near monopoly of cinemas by Chennai Express and later by other Bollywood films Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbai Dobaara! and Satyagraha in cinemas. A local right-wing party, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, threatened the makers of Chennai Express if they forced Duniyadari out of cinemas.

Bollywood screenwriters are finally getting their due, sort of

Jaideep Sahni, the writer of blockbusters such as Bunty Aur Babli and Chak De! India, is getting top billing in promotions for his new project Shuddh Desi Romance, a rare honour for a screenwriter in Bollywood.

Sahni spoke to Reuters about the curse of film intermissions and the reason his movies have so many layers. Here are edited excerpts from the interview:

Q: You and director Maneesh Sharma share top billing in the promotions for Shuddh Desi Romance. How did you pull that off?
A: Maneesh and I were quite embarrassed by it. Because we are not used to it, I guess. But our marketing colleagues felt it might do its little two bits in attracting people. I guess it is a bit of body of work and largely the producers and directors I have worked with. They are the kind of people who respect writing.

Bollywood movie review: Zanjeer

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Everything is distorted in Apoorva Lakhia’s Zanjeer (Shackles), a modern-day version of the iconic 1973 action-thriller of the same name that gave Amitabh Bachchan his aura of Bollywood’s angry young man.

Inspector Vijay Khanna (played by Ram Charan) is not the brooding, intense young man of the original. The protagonist is now a sculpted statue that twists its face while expressing emotion.

Mala (played by Priyanka Chopra) is no longer the effervescent chakku chhuriyan street performer. She’s an irritating woman with too much make-up who gyrates to songs with offensive lyrics.

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