Rati Agnihotri, one of the popular actresses of the ’80s, finally gathered the courage to speak about the abuse and pain she suffered for almost 30 years of her marriage.
Rati Agnihotri started her film career in 1979 with a Tamil film titled, Puthiya Vaarpugal. But, it was her Bollywood debut in the movie Ek Duuje Ke Liye in the year 1981 that made her popular across the nation. The movie turned out to be a huge blockbuster and there was no looking back for the actress.
By the mid of the 1980s, Rati had become one of the biggest stars of the Indian film industry. It was during this time that Rati met a Mumbai-based businessman and architect, Anil Virwani, at a social event. And, things took an unexpected turn as she went ahead and dated him for a while despite her parent’s disapproval of the relationship.
The couple tied the knot on February 9, 1985. Rati decided to give up her promising career for this marriage. But, sadly things didn’t turn out the way she expected them to. Within no time of getting married, Rati got to witness the abusive treatment of her husband. In the first year of her marriage, Anil started beating Rati. Though she was hoping that things will get better with time, sadly, things just worsened.
There were instances (reportedly) when Anil used to beat Rati up, and she had to run around the house to save herself from him.
In 1986, the couple was blessed with their only child, Tanuj Virwani. Sadly, the abuse in the marriage continued even after the arrival of a kid. Rati suffered domestic abuse for 30 long years! Though Rati lived a painful life, she managed to put up a happy face in front of the whole world. She projected themselves as one happy family but sadly the reality was much more painful than anyone could even imagine.
But after suffering abuse for 30 years, finally, in 2015, Rati decided to let go of her abusive & wrecked marriage and move on.
As per TOI, it was March 7, 2015, the day when her son was shooting for the movie in Pune when her husband’s fit of anger left her fearing for her life. Sharing the details of that particular incident, Rati expressed:
“I thought to myself that I am a 54-year-old woman and I will progressively grow older and weaker and then one day I will die, beaten to death.”
It was the moment that made Rati gather all her courage and move out of her abusive marriage. So exactly a week after that, i.e. on March 14, 2015, she went to the police station and filed a case of domestic abuse against her husband. But, it was heartbreaking that rather applauding her courage, many sections of society and media doubted what she went through. Rather than applauding her courage, many of us judged her story of abuse.
In one of her interviews, she mentioned:
“People are asking why I remained in the marriage for so long. Well, firstly, it’s my life. I don’t owe any explanation 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.”
Speaking about the same, she said:
“Well, I had certain priorities, the biggest being my son Tanuj. He was the reason I put up with all this pain for 30 years. I also believed in the sanctity of marriage… I believed in love. Anil was the man I had married despite the fact that my parents had never liked him. And like every girl I’d dreamt of a picture-perfect life with a husband who cared and provided for me. For all these years I’d hoped… prayed… that things would change, that he would change.”
“There were times when I would tell myself I didn’t have to smile so much, that it was all right to shed a tear sometimes, to frown occasionally, but I never did.”
Recalling further, how her son advised her to move out of her abusive marriage:
“After the latest violence (2015), 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’.”
Though after Rati came out in the open about her abusive marriage, the couple stayed separate for around two months. There were some reports that stated that the husband and wife are giving another chance to their marriage and working on the same.
Though we really don’t know if there could be any better ending to this inspiring story, all we can say that we are extremely proud of Rati Agnihotri. How she finally gathered the courage to put an end to her 30-year-long nightmare is quite inspiring.
It’s our judgments and our denials that make it difficult for our abuse survivors to stand up and speak out. We hope you won’t let your judgments cloud your view of how much strength does it take to stand against an abusive marriage.
We hope Rati’s story would inspire many more abuse survivors that it is never too late to speak up against abuse.