Three movies that spoke on gaslighting and the lessons we need to take from them

A Potpourri of Vestiges Feature

Rimli Bhattacharya  

I was raised in a small town where every morning I would get up hearing cries of a woman begging her husband not to beat her. The couple stayed in a joint family and had two small children witnessing their father’s kicks showered on their mother. While the husband beat her black and blues none of the other members of the family intervened as the lady would beg to save her from such cruel hands. Years later I heard the couple had been blessed with a baby boy. I couldn’t understand the equation back then. How come someone become intimate with the partner after so much of violence. Later I came to know it is called gas lighting. I was a school kid and thought it had to be something related to gas and lighter. And I sincerely hope and pray that this should be the correct definition of gas lighting. Unfortunately it is not.


When I first watched the movie Provoked based on the real life story on Kiranjit Ahluwalia I froze. Can it happen in real? Can someone be that cruel? The storyline goes like this. A traditional and meek Punjabi girl, Kiranjit Ahluwalia (played by AishwaryaRai) marries a Brit boy, Deepak Ahluwalia (played by Naveen Andrews) and leaves her village to be with her husband in a faraway land – Britain. Though initially the audiences perceive Deepak to be a loving and caring husband but gradually as the plot evolves we find a beast inside Deepak which refuses to get tamed. On a fateful night a badly beaten bruised Kiranjit sets fire on her sleeping alcoholic and womanizer husband. The movie is shown in flashbacks where we witness the limitless cruelty rendered by Deepak on his tender and beautiful wife. To name a few – leaving no money for food for the children. His fury goes to such an extent that he turns the table and almost killsKiranjit by holding the hot iron close to her face. Returning home in an inebriated state in the middle of night and raping his wife. Doesn’t think twice before tossing his heavily pregnant wife down the staircase. There are instances of constant brutality which reaches the epic center and a half dazed Kiranjit kills her husband.

So that was a real life incident. And that is not the only story of a particular family. Take a close just a couple of yards ahead or behind you. You can see a similar story happening there. It’s just that the same is goingunnoticed by a film director/producer.


I am a movie lover and I recently came across the movie Darlings. Starring Alia Bhatt as Badru who not only had a love marriage with Hamza played by Vijay Varmabut also loved him deeply. She overlooks all the red flags right from the beginning and dreams of that day when she will live happily ever after with her abusive husband. She even chooses to ignore her mother’s (played by Shefali Shah as Shamshun) repeated warnings on leaving this aggressive man or simply to finish him off. This adds to humor as we all know the mother daughter duo are not criminals. Hamza in a drunken stupor would beat Badru black and blues but the innocent Badru continues to prepare his breakfast and meals until that day Hamza pushes a pregnant Badru down the stairs resulting in miscarriage and that changes Badru forever.


In the film Parama where Raakhee plays the role of the namesake. She is a benevolent housewife and mother to three children. Her life revolves within the four walls of a decorated flat in a plush neighborhood. She takes care of her mother in law, her three children and at night she needs to satiate a sex addict man – her husband. Her world turns 360 degrees when a young photographer Rahul (played by late Mukul Sharma) decides to photo shoot a beauty like her for his magazine “Life”. Parama breaks the shackles and steps out of her patriarchal household only to find Rahul disappearing to US and publishing one of her seminude photograph without her consent. The resultParama’s husband and the entire family rejects her. She has a mental breakdown andattempts a suicide by slashing her arteries but fails.

So all of the above cases spoke of gaslighting. It occurs in an abusive relationship where the victim is confused if she is loved or hated. It is a psychological manipulation over the years where the victim wonders if she is actually losing her sanity. From psychological point of view this happens with women who have low confidence, lacks self-esteem, traumatized, little or no support from family and also unable to take decisions.

In the very first case of my neighbor, she is an adult and a mother. She shouldn’t have tolerated the blows and kicks. Either she could have gone to her maternal house and asked for help or file an FIR. Later I came to know that her matriach was aware of the tortures but once a girl is married she becomes her husband’s property. I was awestruck how can one say that? Shame!

But Kiranjit, she fought her entire ordeal alone and court set her free with complete custody of her minor sons. Likewise, Badru who indeed had the support of her mother but stood out tall and victorious. And last Parama, who realized that her identity is much more than a wife, mother, daughter in law, sister in law and many more in law and not to forget getting trapped by a lecher who uses her for his personal gain. Parama regains her identity that she is someone who deserved respect, nothing more and nothing less. Films are made out from real life incidents and with these reviews I would want a woman to be independent, know her worth and that she is too valuable in this universe among anyone else.

About Author 

Rimli Bhattacharya is a first class gold medalist in Mechanical Engineering with a MBA in supply chain management. She has contributed to two anthologies, A Book of light and Muffled Moans and has written two solo books, The crosshairs of life and That day it rained and other stories. Her other works have appeared in twenty nine literary magazines & E – Zines. She is also an Indian Classical dancer. Views expressed are personal.

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated 

About A Potpourri of Vestiges

People who liked this also liked...
Share on Google Plus


Post a Comment

Thanks for sharing for valuable opinion. We would be delighted to have you back.