If you thought, like us, that SatyaPrem Ki Katha is about Satyaprem and Katha — the woman he loves — or it is a story of true love, you have been misled.
That said, SatyaPrem Ki Katha is a film with its heart in the right place. It deals with the concept of consent and handles the fallout of a date rape with sensitivity, not just the physical and mental trauma of the survivor but also how it affects the people around her. It addresses how society reacts to date rape and the reason why it goes unreported.
But SatyaPrem Ki Katha is not about Katha (Kiara Advani), the rape survivor. It is not even the story of true love triumphing against all odds. It is actually Satyaprem ki katha — the story of Satyaprem (Kartik Aaryan). Katha is just the predicate of the film. And it is evident from the very beginning of the film where we learn everything we can about Satyaprem aka Sattu — he does all the housework in their four-member household, he is LLB fail, doesn’t have a job but is a loveable chap and is desperate to get married because he wants to lose his virginity. All we learn about Katha in the first half is that she is the star attraction at Garba gatherings, is from a rich family and has a boyfriend and that too because Sattu is a goner for the girl.
After Sattu saves Katha when she slits her wrists and then marries her — a dream come true for Sattu — at her parents’ request, Katha is reduced to being the vehicle for our hero to shine. The guy who scales boundary walls to visit a girl uninvited, the guy who marries the girl despite knowing she is doing it just to make her father happy, the guy who tells his wife how he has been saving himself for his wife on the first night of their arranged marriage, the guy who says he would rather see her in nothing, gets to transform into a hero. It is a good transformation, no doubt, but Katha, who the story that unfolds is about, is hardly ever the focus.
When Satyaprem learns about Katha’s rape during a night of attempted intimacy, he is first shocked, then angry, then shattered. But instead of asking Katha what she wants to do about it, he goes and rails against her parents who assumed she had been careless after they discovered she had had an abortion.
Katha does get to say her piece to her in-laws but it is after Sattu has rallied for her. We do see her suffering and hear her side of the story. Her anguished cry about how people would not understand that just because she allowed someone to go to third base doesn’t mean she was okay with going the whole way was particularly impactful.
But her anguish and her suffering are used to hold up Satyaprem as the saviour and that is the problem. Sattu says at one point that he will be her supporting hero, but that comes right at the end of the film, after he has played the male saviour fighting with Katha’s parents on her behalf, fighting with her boyfriend on her behalf, pleading with his parents on her behalf, even fighting with her on her behalf. Katha even needed Sattu filing a case against her boyfriend for her to realise that she can actually fight to get justice.
Don’t get me wrong, it is a pleasure to see a man on screen who can accept that he might never get to be physically intimate with his wife because of her traumatic experience and even go a step beyond to become her champion, because God knows such support is rare. But in all this, it would have been better if Katha too had been at the front and centre of the story along with Satyaprem, and not just as a supporting character.