Sometimes i am just raged at the scenes of sexism and gender chauvinism in Malayalam cinema. Popular films with actors like Dileep, Mohanlal, Mamooty have never ending messaging of sexism, alcoholism and gender chauvinism. In fact, I would say Dileep is the master of it. Few months ago I saw ‘YES BOSS!” – it was ridiculous! I just hoped none of my working women friends in the US ever saw that movie. I would die of embarrassment at the portrayal of a female boss. Just some time back, I saw ‘Run Baby Run’ a movie starring Mohan Lal in the lead role. But the whole flow of interaction between the male lead actor and the lead actress was so hard for me to watch. At every instance the dialogues were intermixed with rudeness, name-calling and condescending remarks directed at the actress. She was portrayed as stupid, irrational, childish, immature and solution-less. Then the actor with his epitome of maturity, wisdom, rationalism, solution provider and protector shines bright!!
What is really disturbing was that the female character was ok with this behaviour like ti was normal and even enjoying it like somehow this was the male actor’s way of showing love. Mohanlal does variety of roles and most of his roles do not mirror sexism. Same goes with Mammokka but an actor like Dileep. Most of his popular movies have to show this all-knowing ideal superiority over the female character. It is worrisome!! I know story and dialogue are completely the domain of the director/producer so I cant blame the actors completely, but still. There needs to be some accountability – somewhere – by someone.
Maybe for those living in Kerala, this is just a normal interaction happening in an intimate relationship of men and women. That doesn’t make it ok – only all the more concerning!! Having lived in California (USA) where there is so much awareness aroudn sexism, emotional abuse, gender stereotyping – one learns to see it, feel it and recognize it immediately. If some of these movies were dubbed in their english accuracy, Americans will be shocked to see the dialogue exchange between lovers, husband and wife. It can be termed as an abusive relationship.
The newer generation of young malayalam directors, actors and actresses like Fahad Fazil, Naveen Polli, Jayasurya, Kunchako, Vineet Srinivasan who are portraying more balanced movies where intimacy and relationships are explored on even grounds are definitely a relief!
I feel it is high time we put thought into how we portray the role of women and girls in our movies. Even more importantly, how we portray intimacy and relationship between men and women. We don’t have to go overboard by discarding ethics and values, yet at the same time we can explore balance between relationships for a change instead of equality. Sexism of any kind whether directed towards men or women is not Ok!! Is it too much to ask for the portrayal of respect towards the female gender especially in the role of the girl-friend or lover or wife in the movies as well as in real life?
TO GIRLS AND WOMEN: if anyone makes you feel small or less of yourself, makes you uncomfortable in your body, makes you want to disappear – through words, deeds or behaviour – even fi that person happens to be someone who claims to love you or protect you – KNOW THAT IT IS NOT OK FOR THAT PERSON TO DO THAT!!
ANGER, ABUSE, FOUL LANGUAGE, RUDENESS, ARROGANCE, HUMILIATION, SHAME, VIOLENCE – directed at you is NOT A SIGN OF LOVE – even if someone might convince you otherwise. No Violence of any kind, degree, shape, form or size is a sign of Love. The more we stop taking this kind of shit in our own lives, the less it will be mirrored in our societies and in the movies!! Let us take responsibility and stand tall!!