Last Updated on October 3, 2023 by SPN Editor
A Manipuri film ‘The Foul Truth – Amakpa Achumba’, helmed by Priyakanta Laishram in 2019, delves thoroughly into the subject of where a boy or a man is sexually mistreated or assaulted.
In India, 53℅ of males and 47% of females experience sexual assault. But when a boy or a man is sexually mistreated or assaulted, no one seems to notice.
There are numerous underlying causes for it. The main cause is the pervasive toxic masculinity in our culture and all the negative stereotypes that are applied to males.
Through social and power relations, male rape victims are placed at the bottom of the gender hierarchy because of their identification, emasculation, and stigmatization. Consequently, these victims are seen as challenging and contradicting the status quo, and the gender expectations and social ideals of men because men are not expected to be victims, vulnerable, hurt, damaged, emotional and sensitive.
The Foul Truth (Amakpa Achumba) captures the screams and voices of millions of boys and men who have been sexually assaulted but are silenced by the prevalent, destructive stereotypes of men.
The principal character Thoithoiba (played by Laishram) delivers a five-minute, intense monologue in which he exposes the wrongdoings of society in minute details, which can make everyone rethink their behavior, actions, and stereotypical thoughts.
Laishram’s portrayal of a boy who has had to deal with the trauma of rape and abuse since he was a child and compelled to raise his voice is so realistic that one can’t help but want to help the boy while watching the movie. Through his performance, one could feel the unspoken frustration, internal turmoil, pain, and wrath that someone who has experienced sexual abuse could feel.
“I have seen accounts of male rape and boys being sexually assaulted by men in local publications ever since I was a child. However, it was never in the headlines. It was invariably on a column page. That was a glaring instance of how overlooked and disregarded such topics are.” Laishram stated.
Talking about why he chose to make the film, he continued, “Male rape is also rape. I have been a victim and survivor of sexual abuse. The social stigma and silence around it result in a lack of awareness and understanding about the effects of these experiences and what men need to move forward. The film is the need of the hour.”
Laishram also mentioned that because of the film’s subject matter, producers were hard to come by, thus he had to finance the production himself. He had to deal with a lot of hostility from a certain section of the audience who couldn’t grasp the problem of male sexual abuse when the movie was first announced in 2018.
Despite the backlash, the film’s principal photography began on May 22, 2018, and ended on May 26, 2018, after a 4-day schedule. Later, as the film was going to be released, a few organizations threatened Laishram, stating that they would ban the film. When it was released on June 2, 2019, the movie was met with widespread critical acclaim.
The movie also made its debut at several film festivals in 2019, including the Symbiosis Allied Media Awards, the World Freedom Film Festival, the Short Motion Pictures Wave National Festival, the Human Rights Asian Film Festival, the Jalandhar National Short Film Festival, and the St. Leuven International Short Film Festival.
Laishram won several acting honors, including Best Actor in a Leading Role at the Symbiosis Allied Media Awards 2019 and Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actor In A Leading Role at the Short Motion Pictures National Wave Festival 2018.
The film also received honors, including Best Film On Other Social Issues at the St. Leuven International Short Film Festival 2019.
Backed by his production company, Priyakanta Productions, The Foul Truth – Amakpa Achumba, starring Priyakanta Laishram, Rojesh Saikhom, Harry Tourangbam, Sophia Sapam, Harendra Laishram, Caroline Laishram, and Indira Khaidem, is written, edited, produced and directed by Priyakanta Laishram, and features music by Whitesand Music.
The Foul Truth is the first film from entire Northeast India to deal with the subject of male rape, yet it is successful in delivering its message of a gruesome reality that persists in our society.