Dhallywood actors Dilara Hanif Purnima and Misha Shawdagar Shahid Hasan have been widely criticized on social media by their seemingly comic remarks on rape. Purnima was the anchor of the TV show titled “Ebong Purnima,” where these comments were made. The show aired on RTV on March 24 where she interviewed Misha, who commonly plays negative roles in Bangla films.
During the 13th minute of the 24 minute long show, Purnima jokingly asked Misha questions like: “How many rape scenes did you do in your films,” and “Did each film of yours have rape scenes in them,” and “With whom did you feel most comfortable doing these rape scenes?”
The whole conversation went on very lightly as Misha answered her questions and even mentioned that he preferred doing rape scenes with Purnima and Mousumi. He also said that as they are professional actors they have to do these sorts of scenes and characters based on the scripts.
According to Ayeen O Shalish Kendro’s data 187 women were raped in the first quarter of 2018. 19 of them were killed after being raped and two of them committed suicide. 21 women were the victims of attempted rape. With the recent rape scenario in the country, this part of the show instantly went viral. Ordinary citizens as well as rights activists criticised and condemned making light of rape.
Human rights activist leader Sultana Kamal recently said: “I am astonished. How can someone ask such questions? The people who previewed it, edited it, didn’t notice it? How can someone ask such vile questions? The person who has the slightest idea and awareness or sensitivity about women’s dignity or social regulations cannot ask questions like these. It’s a condemnable issue.”
Social scientist Dilshana Parul said: “In these current situations, the real villains are those who want to bring out the ‘dress issue’ or ‘Purnima debate’ in the front row. Even the fact that you can laugh about rape is another distraction; so your attention goes to another issue from the real one. The real issue is that there are 187 reported rape cases in the last three months. The real issue is that there have been 8500 reported rapes in the last two and a half years. The real issue is that 99% of victims never got justice. We should all raise our voices against this. The police must file rape cases as soon as they are reported and cannot push them aside claiming they are false allegations without investigating.”
On the other hand, Purnima recently told said: “General people don’t want to understand anything and they don’t even have the time to do so. The truth is that a lot of us can’t take things lightly. We just hear a fraction of it and jump to conclusions. We don’t try to understand that this was a fun show or a conversation between two film actors.”
“If anyone is hurt by my comments on the show, I am sincerely very, very sorry about it,” she added.
She also said: “We work very hard on our films and shows. And entertaining the audience is always our main priority. If my shows have hurt you in any way I am deeply sorry.”
She even mentioned: “Everything that’s been happening has a reason behind it. A selected part of the video has been shared online for personal rivalry. Please do not ask who are behind it and why are they doing it. When the time comes, I will share every detail about them. I do not want to cut their noses off so soon. Even now, I hope they are well.”
On the other hand, Misha, who is also the President of Bangladesh Film Artists Association, recently said: “This is not even an issue. No controversy can be made out of this. Many sorts of questions are asked when a person interviews someone. The poor girl asked a question which was on her script. The rape scenes we do in films, even those are done for the script. We don’t do those willingly.”
He also declined to comment on the issue and hoped that the authorities of the show wold comment on it as they had the scope of editing the show before going on air. He also mentioned that “artists are here to entertain the people. They don’t understand politics. They don’t lie. They are often run by their emotions.”
“We say a lot of things during a recorded show which are later edited before being aired. They should have been more careful,” he added.
RTV Program Division Chief Shamsur Rakib told said: “This wasn’t made for fun. Misha Shawdagar gave his explanation. Rape is in their film scripts. This was not asked to create any controversy or promote or laugh about rape.”
He also mentioned that when filmstar Arifin Shuvoo came, he was asked how many love affairs he had. Actors who play negative roles are asked questions about fighting and bloodshed; so this question also came along while talking about his roles.
Rakib assured that none of this was intentional or planned.
Sections of this article were first published on banglatribune.com