INTERVIEW| ‘Pro-choice is not the same as pro-abortion’: Aparna Sen

Director Aparna Sen speaks about why it was important to not take sides in her new film ‘The Rapist’.

Published: 06th April 2022 09:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th April 2022 09:19 AM   |  A+A-

Filmmaker Aparna Sen. (File photo | PTI)

Filmmaker Aparna Sen. (File photo | PTI)

Express News Service

The Rapist, starring Konkana Sen Sharma and Arjun Rampal, has garnered attention for its portrayal of the life of an assault victim, Naina Malik, and her consequent nightmares. The Aparna Sen directorial has been hailed as a conversation starter among critics. Naina, who gets pregnant after the assault, has to decide whether she wants the baby, and this takes the film into the pro-life, pro-choice debate.  In this interview, Aparna talks about wanting to start a conversation with the film.


Was it hard not to take sides as the writer?
I was determined not to take sides. Also, I don’t know which side to take, honestly. This couple that is involved (Konkana Sen Sharma and Arjun Rampal)… is very much their story. What started it all was the question, ‘Why does a man become a rapist?’ Nobody is born a rapist. When do they turn into one? Why? These questions have been bothering me for a long time. Also, I believe that killing them, or arranging a police encounter, is not the solution. Research has proved that the death penalty isn’t a deterrent for crime. Is it necessary? Maybe it is. I don’t know. I have handled this story as a director, but not an all-knowing one. I have played the role of a director looking for solutions.

What do you look for in your characters?
Contradictions, mainly. I don’t think characters are black or white. I think there are many layers to people. Kanishka Agarwal, for instance, was wonderful in the role. She somehow managed to open up all the suppressed emotions of the character and allowed them to come out and inform the scenes.

Any reason why you haven’t taken a position in the pro-choice, pro-life debate?
You may think you are pro-choice, but when it comes to a crunch situation, you may turn pro-life. All through the film, you see that there is no one definite thing that anybody subscribes to. There are shades of feelings.

What’s your own take on the debate?
When you say pro-choice, one can still think of pro-choice meaning pro-abortion. But no, that’s not the case. Pro-choice is that it is a woman’s choice whether she wants to keep the baby or not. There is a tendency in society that the moment a woman says, ‘I want to keep the baby’, people think that it is pro-life. No. She may choose either way. It is not as simple as people think it is. 


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