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Film / Lajja

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Lajja (Shame) is a 2001 Bollywood film directed by Rakjumar Santoshi. The film depicts several women, and their struggles, as they meet the protagonist, Vaidehi (Manisha Koirala).

Tropes used in Lajja:

  • Bedlam House: Janki is taken to an asylum after some drama, and she miscarries her illegitimate child there.
  • Big Applesauce: Vaidehi and Raghu live here
  • Bollywood Nerd: Ramdulaari's son Prakash, who is trying to improve life in his village by bringing computers and knowledge.
  • Defiled Forever:
    • Janki is considered this for getting pregnant outside of wedlock, and even considered insane.
    • Also, Sushma is considered this, even though Prakash only kissed her. (Her family actually mourns her as though she's dead.)
    • Maithili, too, because she rejected a marriage to her wimpy college sweetheart (from Old Money), because of her fiance's father's greed. Offscreen, Raju marries her, so she won't have to be alone forever or have to kill herself to save her family's honor.
  • Double Standard: Explored many times, particularly during the sequences about Janki and Ramdulaari.
  • Dowry Dilemma: Maithili is marrying her college sweetheart, and her soon-to-be in-laws are demanding an extremely lavish dowry...which her family cannot afford. If they can't come up with the money, the wedding will be off...and Maithili and her entire family will be disgraced. Vaidehi advises her to talk to her fiancé, but he won't stand up to his parents. They encounter a prostitute arguing with customers who are trying to cheat her out of money, and she says she's only doing this because she doesn't want her sister to end up like her — shamed, rejected, and selling sex because her family can't pay a dowry (implying that she may be Maithili's older sister, though this is never confirmed in the movie). Not only that, but some of the groomsmen try to rape Maithili and then start Slut-Shaming her. Maithili finally stands up to her would-be in-laws and calls out her fiancé for not standing up to them, and the wedding is off.
  • Happy Ending: Raghu starts treating Vaidehi properly, and she gives birth to a healthy baby girl in New York City whom she names Ramdulaari. Meanwhile, Raju is Happily Married to Maithili, and makes a living as a New York City cab driver rather than stealing. And Janki is no longer held in the Bedlam House, but performs in a theatre in N.Y.C, doing charity shows to raise money that support women's organizations back in India.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Eventually, Vaidehi's husband sees that he's been a real Jerkass, and mends his ways.
  • Honor Before Reason: The root cause of all the women's troubles.
  • Honor-Related Abuse: Ramdulaari is raped and murdered because her son is in love with the daughter of two very traditionalist village elders
    • And the whole thing with Janki...
  • Large Ham: Janki. Justified, as she works in theatre.
  • Meaningful Name: The four main characters are named for different aspects of the goddess Sita.
  • The Medic: Ramdulaari, a midwife
  • Nice Guy: Raju (not to be confused with Vaidehi's husband Raghu)
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Gajendra and his brother do not like Ramdulaari's son.
  • Pinball Protagonist: The whole point of the story is Vaidehi observing how badly women are being treated.
  • Rape and Revenge: Bulwa avenges Ramdulaari. In fact, he takes issue with ill-treatment of women in general (whether rape is involved or not), because Gajendra tried to rape Bulwa's mother when she begged him for a small pot of water during a drought.
  • Sleazy Politician: Gajendra. He is exposed and later killed by Bhulwa
  • Soapbox Sadie: Both Janki and Ramdulaari are considered this, as is Vaidehi.
  • The Unfair Sex:
    • With a few exceptions, such as Bhulwa and Raju, most of the male characters in this film are just terrible people.
    • And even Bhulwa, as nice as he may be, is still a thief. (Same with Raju)
  • Type Caste: The main reason Gajendra doesn't approve of Prakash.
  • Whip Sword: Bulwa's weapon of choice. It contributes to his swashbuckling image.