Death of the Avenging Woman? An Exploration into Rape-Revenge films in Hindi Cinema post-2010

Rutvik Upadhyaya
Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts
Symbiosis International (Deemed University)


Drawing from Lalitha Gopalan’s (2002) analysis of the 1980s “avenging woman films” belonging to the rape-revenge genre, this research explores two films – Pink (2016) and Mom (2017) along with an ancillary analysis of Mardaani 2 (2019). It attempts to examine the extent to which these films exhibit and internalize the formulations delineated by Gopalan. The exploration is guided by the following questions – how are scenes of rape/molestation represented in the film and what kind of meanings does this representation generate? Who avenges the rape/molestation central to the narrative and how? What kind of closure does the film secure with the vengeance? In consonance with the crisis of legitimacy of the state, a theme that was dominant in shaping the ‘angry young man’ and the ‘avenging woman’ aesthetic, this paper inquires into similar developments occurring in the decade of 2010 and investigates how the melodramatic aesthetic of the aforementioned films negotiates with them, especially when responding to the questions posed above. It also scrutinizes the tussle between the textuality of these films with the dominant formulations of Laura Mulvey (1975), Linda Williams (1987), and Susan Hayward (2000), articulated with respect to women’s films and maternal melodramas in Hollywood cinema.

Keywords: violence, Hindi cinema, rape-revenge, gender