Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Domestication : the AB way and the Laljose way
"Now that theyre getting married, I am looking for new sources on the tv for comic strips. but maybe with amitabh making such bloopers I wont have to after all.."
[Cartoon strip by Chitra Venkataramany on Horticulture].
This domestication business does not begin with an Amitabh or does not end with an Aishwarya. Both in real life and in the reel-life. Take any of those so-called "strong" woman characters in our films, they are almost always sure to get domesticated. It is just a matter of finding the "right" man. (Chandni Bar recently in Hindi, films in which Manju Warrier played the tough woman in Malayalam.. Phir Milenge didn't attempt a romance between Shilpa and her Advocate saviour Abhishek, but the audience didn't seem quite happy that way).
The recent Malayalam hit Classmates took it one step further. Ok -- it had a proactive woman character (Suhra), something that we have hardly seen after the Manju Warrier days in mainstream Malayalam. The film didn't play safe with the 50+ heroes (Malayalam film viewers are supposed to dislike younger/newer heroes). It had a nonconventional storyline -- a thriller packed in some campus nostalgia. And an attempt at nonlinear story telling -- a commercially successful attempt, unlike Yuva/Ayudha Ezhuthu.
I was (like many others) happy the film became a runaway hit. Until I got to watch it in December, nearly four months after its release.
I was disappointed. It was still "better than the lot" as one my friend had opined, but a "better than the lot" film has more responsibility with it. Instead of taking that extra responsibility, Classmates just stretched our old prejudices, played out same old caricatures of "Muslim girl" and "Muslim girl's father", voyeured on the female body (it even had a re-run of boy-getting-into-girl's-bedroom-while-girl's-sleeping (supposedly heroic) scene lifted from the director's earlier film Meesamadhavan) and fed the male egoes.. What should have been a milestone that marked the new Malayalam cinema, stopped short of it.
What I found the most interesting was the way Suhra gets domesticated. It wasn't an easy task, as her man is dead. But Laljose does not give up. So it is the guy's parents who decide to "keep her" (the Bahu) and "take care of her". Shubham! What happier an end can one hope for?