The film "Insaf Ka tarazu", with its enactments and repression of rape, epitomised broader discursive contexts on the topic. Indian feminists, for example, leveled the charge that it eroticized rape for the male gaze. How do we refuse to erase the palpability of rape and negotiate the splintering of the private/public trauma associated with it ? "Insaf" came under fire from Indian feminists because the fictional representation of rape elided the reality of underclass women's rape by the state (e.g, the police or the warring armies). Further, a commercial film maker's intervention in a discourse forced upon the nation by women was viiewed as opportunism, which feminists found particularly odious.
Popular cinema in general focuses on the lives of the rich and famous, just as alternate cinema is conversely obsessed with portraying the lives of the poor, the subaltern. By focusing on Bharati ( played by Zeenat Aman, who herself won the 1969 Miss Asia title) the film plays on the extra-textual information the audience has about the star, situating itself in the space between the star's real life and the character she plays on screen. "Insaf ka tarazu" set the new trend of eroticizing the heroine's body. Bharati's job of striking poses and openly flaunting herself before the camera centers attention on her body. The centrality of Bharat/Aman's body has the effect of misleading the audience into drawing incorrect conclusions regarding beauty, desire, lust and rape. The subtext of this is the most insidious of rape myths : "She asked for it". While such a critique rings true, it is equally pertinent that the film's second half subverts the argument of the first half.
When a humdrum, low-paid existence replaces Bharati's glamourous life-style after the courtroom fiasco, her younger sister Nita gets a hard-won interview with a prestigious firm. It is of course a set-up, an occasion for Ramesh Gupta to assert his personal vendetta against Nita for testifying against him in court. If initially the film makes confused connections between lust, desire, and rape on the one hand, and women's culpibility on the other, this latter part of the film clearly deflects such a thesis. Nita represents legions of women in lowly, underpaid positions, acutely vulnerable to men with power.
The rape is unquestinably gruesome. When Ramesh enters Bharati's bedroom he intimidates her and his intentions are clear. As Bharati protests, "No,no", Ramesh responds "Yes,yes....beauty queen...Now kiss me...."Bharati first fights back, then breaks down and finally passes out . She lies on the floor on the other side of the bed; in view are her feet tied to the bed, her head thrown back in an expression of terror and , eventually exhaustion as Ramesh stays on top of her. When Ramesh is done with Bharati, he cuts the cords used to tie her to the bed.
It is at the end when Bharati guns Ramesh down thus she accomplishes retaliations. She keeps pulling the trigger even when she has emptied the gun. This scene gives vent to her ungoverned wrath, the inertia of compunction that she can hardly get rid of.