then it automatically means that weakness is being equated
with the fairer sex. Weakness, it might be physical,
emotional or anything else. But, by hinting that crying
or tears are suited only for women, one may be meaning,
even if indirectly, that women are weak.
Now, this is not an article of a feminist who is trying
hard for women’s emancipation. This is an attempt
to look at how cinema could have better portrayed the
subtle differences between the sexes. The ‘Men
are from Mars; women are from Venus’ school of
thought seems to be prevalent in cinema in a very literal
sense. The phrase actually takes a lighter and humorously
exaggerated look at what separates men and women. But,
the differences are viewed through a magnifying lens
in Indian cinema.
When women cry, it is normal, but when men cry, it is
a sign off frailty. How often has a lead male character
been seen crying on screen? But, this issue is far more
than just tears or crying. Tears are just the tip of
iceberg. Many other emotions are also classified between
the sexes, quite inappropriately. Fear, anger and even
ambition are segregated. Heroines are supposed to scream
at the sight of even a cockroach, let alone a villain.
Heroes are supposed to be rocks, even in the face of
‘Alavukku meeri aasappadura aambalaiyum, adhikama
kovappadura pombalayum nalla vazhndhatha sarithirame
kidayathu’: a hugely famous dialogue from Padayappa.
This line conveys a message; anger is not something
that is good when it comes to a woman. A woman who gets
angry, whose rage flies over the top on many occasions,
is depicted as a flawed character. We can cite many
instances. Ramya Krishnan’s Neelambari in Padayappa
and Vijayashanthi in Mannan are the best examples that
I can remember. There are no two opinions about the
fact that anger is an emotion that has to be controlled.
But, why does cinema always have to tell women to keep
their anger under check when unbridled anger is often
depicted as the prime positive character of a male lead.
Ambition is the worst of all. The ambition to touch
the skies and achieve something in life is attributed
only to male characters. The zeal to go all out for
an objective seems to be patented only for males. A
full time career guy who can’t find time for his
girlfriend or family is depicted as driven and focused;
it is fine for him to keep his girlfriend or family
waiting at a restaurant while he finishes off some important
official commitment or catches a thief if he is a cop.
But, if a woman does the same thing to her boyfriend
or family, she is depicted as insensitive and selfish,
someone who needs to be educated on relationships.
‘Men are not from Mars and women are not from
Venus’, both are from earth - that is the reality.
In 2009, there is really no place for segregation of
emotions or characters as male or female. We as a society
are past it (some might disagree), only cinema seems
to be stuck with image of the weak, sit at home, cry
baby woman and the macho, achieving, angry man. Let
us get over it.
Sudhakar, with inputs from Arun.)
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