Rati Agnihotri finally breaks her silence on domestic violence, and her decision to end her 30-year marriage. When actress Rati Agnihotri decided to complain to the cops about the alleged violence perpetrated by her husband, she didn’t expect the personal matter would leak out into the public domain. And even if it did, she expected to see more sympathy and empathy in the media, more so since many media persons are women.
However, the truth is otherwise.
“I am surprised and hurt that my motives for speaking out to the law enforcement and legal machinery about my domestic problems are being questioned. Just because I chose to not speak about it, some sections of the media doubt the veracity of my claims. But the truth, as they say, will prevail. They’re calling up my son while I am running around with my lawyers trying to make sense of what has happened in my life. Tanuj, poor thing, is just a young man. He doesn’t know how to react to media pressure. I needed to take my lawyers in confidence about whether it’s ok to speak on the untruth that is being put out about my life while I’ve remained silent, and please underline the fact that what is being said about my life is not true,” Rati takes a deep breath as she resolutely announces her decision to end her marriage.
“Yes, it’s time for me to move one. I’ve taken a very long time to take the right decision. People are asking why I remained in the marriage for so long. Well, firstly, it’s my life. I don’t owe any explanations to anyone except my son Tanuj for whose sake I chose to stay on. I’ve taken 30 years to opt out of my marriage. I’ve been patient and I’ve borne a lot.”
Rati wanted her son to understand why she needed to break away from the marriage. “That was most painful. Tanuj is the only reason I stuck on (in the marriage). He is 28 now and man enough to face the truth in his mother’s life. He knew the truth ten years ago. He knows the truth now. He knows what his mother has endured. Finally he has told me. ‘Mom, don’t live your life for me. Live for yourself. Do what you think is right for yourself.’
Reluctant to speak on what went wrong with the marriage, Rati finally says, “I got married three weeks after my dad passed away. I went from my father’s protective attention straight into my husband’s home. I knew I had to adjust almost overnight to my new life, that being from a glamorous profession; I was being scrutinized and judged far more harshly than the normal girl. Two years later, Tanuj was born. I felt I had a life-long responsibility towards my son.”
Why didn’t Rati discuss her marital problems with close family and friends? “I really had no one to talk to. I stuck on to the marriage for my son’s sake. This is the honest truth. If the world would like to judge me otherwise, so be it. It saddens me to see the way my life is being projected in the media. Some sections of the media have forgotten I have a 37 year connectivity with the media. Don’t they grant me some grace dignity and honesty? Does the media know how hard it is on me to make the decision that I did after keeping quiet for 30 years? I feel it is important for me to have my say in this one conversation with you. Just because I kept quiet all these years about what I was going through and finally decided to do something about it, doesn’t mean my motives are questionable.”
Pondering over her own predicament, Rati asks, “Do I sound depressed to you? Do I sound desperate? One widely-read newspaper portrays me this way and I am painted poorly in numerous papers across the country. If you don’t have access to me, it doesn’t mean my life is open to distortion.”
Regarding her decision to break away from the violent marriage, Rati says, “After the latest violence, I couldn’t stay in the same house any more. I had nowhere to go, so I drive down to my home in Lonavla overnight. My son was shooting in Pune. He came to meet me in Lonavla and advised me to do what is right for me. This (ending the marriage) was my son’s decision for me. I am taking his advice. He knows he is the only reason I stayed in this marriage. He said, ‘No matter what, you’ll always be my mother.’ Every time something of this sort happened within the four walls of my home, he’s the only person I reached out to. In the past, I’ve called him for help and he has immediately come to my rescue. I am still hurting because of the last beating. I don’t have the strength to go and see my ailing mother. I’ve never failed as a mother. And I don’t the world to tell me otherwise. No matter what happens, Tanuj will continue to be the centre of my universe.”
Rati would like to encourage other victims of domestic violence to come forward. And speak out.
In the meanwhile, she is trying to go on with her life as normally as possible. “So far, I’ve only earned and given back whatever I’ve made to the home I had with my husband and son. I am still running my house, watering my plants, cooking; speaking to my lawyers, paying my bills…I am looking at film projects. But it’s really hard to sit as producers stare at you for signs of depression. Hello! I am not depressed. I have my career, my mother and most important, and my son. I’ve gone through a lot. I am angry, but determined. I don’t want any of what I’ve gone through to affect my son’s life and future marriage. “