The peerless movie of 2008

Do movies portray realism in our society? We are often confused by the one sided representation of truth that is happening around us. Most movies are taken with the sole aim of making it big at the box-office. With this goal in mind they always try to commercialize the movies. There is however a small number of films that claims to showcase realism, but end up showing lots of blood and gore. It is in the midst of all this confusion that last year we had a movie called ‘Pirivom Sandhippom’. There are very few movies that can claim to have exposed the realities of life like this one. If you have seen the movie you will know that it shows, without an ounce of cinematic liberty, the many things take place in our day to day life. Director Karu Pazhaniappan did not mind risking a slow and easy narrative subject, without a clue, how it would be received at the box office.

Over the past couple of years we have had movies that have exhibited realism like Paruthiveeran or Subramaniapuram. Now, these movies have been said to be different from the regular commercial brand (no doubt

about that), and also showcase realism. Now, I cannot be sure about the realism in such movies basically because they have a huge amount of blood and gore, sometimes even more than commercial cinema. How real is this level of violence? Some claim that it is indeed true, that such violence exists in parts of our state and country, brings a chill in the spine. Even if that is the case, does it serve any good to show it in such unnerving details in our movies? When we are showing so much disgust and criticism against mindless violence in commercial cinema, how does the violence in cinema that has some element of realism in it escape unscathed? Can we accept violence in cinema just because it exists in society?

Cinema is often accused for infusing violent tendencies into youngsters. On the contrary, cinema in turn borrows generously from violence that exists in our society. It is a sort of ‘chicken and the egg’ question, not knowing who is really responsible for starting the vicious and disturbing circle of violence. The consequences of so much violence all around us was seen in the ghastly incident at the Law College. Now, no one in particular can be blamed for what happened. But, the point is violence should be seen as just that, be it mindless or plucked straight out of real life and planted into a movie.

It is towards such an end that movies like Pirivom Sandhippom and more recently Poo must be encouraged. There are other movies too that can claim to be clean entertainers. But Pirivom Sandhippom and Poo deserve a special mention because apart form being extremely faithful to the more pleasant and likeable veracity of life, they also give a good share of their space to the ladies in them. Sneha’s character in Pirivom Sandhippom is perhaps one of the best in her career (not to forget Autograph). It did not have anything special or out of the ordinary, it was just about a woman and how much she longs for the comforts of a big joint family. Sneha’s role has been seen as too mundane or regular, choosing to confine her to the securities of matrimony and family, not being more ambitious than that. In effect, it has been perceived that her character represents all that is regressive about the average Indian woman. But, look at it this way. It is not the choice of a woman who has been asked to behave in a particular way by anyone; it is not the helplessness of an uneducated woman who has no other option. That the character chose the comforts of a family, thereby conforming to all the traditional expectations that are made of an Indian daughter-in-law, this must not be seen as a weakness, but just as a personal preference which has to be respected. Ultimately, if we are looking for a society and cinema where women are given equal importance, the first thing that we need to do is to begin to respect their choices, whatever they may be. We must not make the mistake of creating a new stereotype that in order to be liberal; a woman must deviate from the timeless traditions of our culture. The freedom of independent choice has to be the first step towards women’s liberation, let’s start it with our movies.

(By Sudhakar, with inputs from Arun Gopinath.)

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