Lakshmi- Feminism? or not?

I believe that movies are a great medium to talk to the masses. Of course, it is a one-way communication mode, but it makes us think. Powerful stories with the apt background score and cinematography can create magic on screen. Short films are no less effective than feature films.

My post is about the short film, Lakshmi, and its widespread discussion in the social media.

The movie is about a woman in a sad marriage and her thoughts. It doesn’t stop with her thoughts, it manifests in her actions too. At least for a short while. I am not spoiling the movie further, please do watch it here. (It has subtitles too!)

So a few of my friends tagged me in one of the discussion pages where the movie was being dissected beyond the normal level of human comprehension. I mean, it is a movie. It could represent the societal realities as much as it represents the overhyped and unrealistic aspects. But a few comments alarmed me. When did this become anything related to feminism?

Nobody questions when a man cheats on his wife, but why is the hell breaking loose when a woman does the same? asked one of the ‘feminist pages’.

From what I saw, this had zilch to do with feminism or the absence of it. The movie was about abusive marriage and infidelity as a tool to set off such abuse in the marriage. How is it even justified? The last I checked, two wrongs do not make one right. Just because one person in the marriage is abusive, it is not a license to indulge in an extra-marital affair. It does not address the problem. It creates a new problem for the couple.

Individual freedom is a different concept from relationship rules. Any relationship revolves around an unsaid charter, I feel. There are points classified as Green, Yellow and Red light ones, signifying the acceptability of each of them. The red ones are the deal breakers. What I don’t understand is that why is everything linked to feminism these days? So much that the mere term scares even the well-meaning people off.

I personally felt that if one is in an abusive marriage, one must either talk and sort it out or walk out of the marriage. The individual frustration is not a good reason to cheat on the significant other.

In fact, the movie left the crucial bits to the audience to conclude. So the views might change according to the way each of us perceived those crucial junctures. I liked the movie for what it is though. It made me reflect on the ideals of a relationship.

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Mindless thoughts after a movie

Three love stories. Two had a ‘happily ever after’ ending.

A fiery-filmy one, a slow and uncertain one and a mature one. It is confusing, isn’t it? I was just speed-watching the movie Kandukondein Kandukondein and couldn’t help but notice the contrasts in the storylines.

I am not sure if the director meant the audience to notice this. Did he imply that the fiery, too-good-to-be-true affair to fizzle out eventually and the ones that withstand the odds to survive at the end? I really don’t know.

A tiny note about this movie- Amazing songs, beautiful cinematography (worth remembering for a long time) and star cast. 

I am not qualified to talk about love or relationships. Heck, my reputation till recently was of ‘breaking up relationships’. No, before you conclude, let me explain why.

If someone asks me for a ‘relationship advice’ (dressed up term for ranting about the significant other), I listen. I listen with all the patience I can possibly muster. I realise at the 23rd minute of the rant that this person is just a party to an abusive relationship and is being taken for a ride by that other person. So, as a good Samaritan, what do I do? I express my expert opinion on that subject.

It is not as if one aims to split people up. Often I find people getting swept away by the glitz and glamour of a relationship. The honeymoon phase, you know. It is after it wears off that one gets to the evaluation mode. So yes. I advise. Free of cost and only when solicited.

So post that phone call, these people wake up from their self-imposed slumber and see what I said. They understand the nitty-gritty of my opinion and the rest is history.

So back to this movie, I was wondering what would I have done, if it was my friend, who fell for Bharathiyar poems? ( I would totally fall for the poems, for the record, and not the guy who recites it. Okay, maybe for the guy who sings it just like Hariharan did in Suttum Vizhi Sudar thaan) Would I have stepped in, suo motu and given her/him a piece of my mind? Probably no.

Over the years, the one thing that I learnt the hard way was to not give my opinion on something unless asked for it. Expert opinion is not meant to be given free of cost, right? I just smile and move on. Whatever has to happen, will happen.

I also was surprised that the director chose to make the underrated love stories in that movie, a success. I was talking about this to my mom. We often discuss these issues. She says that a relationship must be tested as much as possible before it becomes anything significant, culturally ( you know the socio-cultural ceremonies and recognition). She says that it must witness quarrels, distance, possessiveness, helplessness and a whole range of concepts before one can safely trust it.

I am not sure I agree with this fully. To an extent, yes. It makes sense. I would go for the practical aspects of any relationship to its theoretical version. To carry my SO in my pocket and roam around is just impossible. Even if we decide to take the plunge, it is not as if we are gonna sync our office timings to the T and spend amaaaazing weekends together. C’mon! I have seen my parents, and hell no! They don’t do that. And theirs is the perfect marriage I have ever known.

So is love a compromise? A decision? or an impulsive feeling? Did Meenakshi settle to marry Bala because he was the most accessible and available person then? Did Mano come back to marry his love because he knew she would remain unmarried for the rest of her life, given her so-called bad luck?

I must not be allowed to watch movies. Hence proved.

Lipstick Under My Burkha- An Afterthought

 

This post comes as an afterthought. A thought that cropped up in me after having watched the movie, Lipstick Under My Burkha.

The movie is about four women, from different walks of life. Each of them is dealing with their own set of problems. There is also a rule book prescribed for those women by the society which they are expected to adhere to at all times.

There is this middle aged widowed woman, who is seen as the bold and uncompromising matriarch of an entire mohalla. She commands respect and is warm to those living there. A young mother of three, who is seen working in a job and doing great at it, all unaware to her husband. Inside the confines of their bedroom, she is just seen as a woman who is supposed be an object of pleasure for him. An unmarried girl, who is forced to take painful decisions regarding her own wedding, because of many other constraints. This girl is seen as a repository where the woes of the other women are shared for consolation. Lastly, there is a young college girl, who yearns to live in her own free world, devoid of a burkha.

The stories of all these women are related and yet parallel. They all represent a certain class of our society and the expectations the society has of them, how ever unreasonable those expectations might be. Each of the above-mentioned women has been suppressed in various ways, which makes for a disturbing revelation later on in the movie.

I loved the way this movie opens a can of worms. I was left with the question of substitution. Would the degree of ostracising be the same, if it were men in the places of those women? One can only imagine. The movie, in a way, portrays what is wrong with the social set-up that we live in. The different rule book, the unrealistic expectations, the fear of being slut-shamed, the reluctance to assert one’s own preference or sexuality for that matter, everything.

The dark undertones (lighting) in around half the movie might be to convey the dark reality of the society that we live in.

Personally, I loved the movie for having been a mirror to our lives, and I swear any woman could relate to at least one scene in this movie on a personal level. The movie moves a tad slow at places, but overall, I enjoyed it. I just fervently hope that this spirit does not die down.