Cinema, the change agent
  International Woman’s Day is just a couple of days away and it’s interesting to note that in the recent times, we have had movies which dealt with injustices against women from filmmakers of impressive repertoire at regular intervals.

First it was Easan from Sasikumar which talked about a girl from a village with colorful dreams and aspirations to make it big in life who lands in the big bad ugly terrains of city only to be stopped midway in her pursuit to get raped and to get ‘honor’ killed by her own dad. Her intelligent teenage brother wipes the perpetrators of the crime in an almost ‘difficult to trace’ manner with the latest technological tools to aid him in this mission.

Then it was Mysskin’s Yudham Sei wherein a completely docile, law abiding educated family takes on the law in its hands and settles scores with baddies in a fairly new cinematic format to avenge the rape cum suicide of the daughter.

Next came Gautham Menon’s Nadunisi Naaygal which depicted an aberrated soul that went on a rampage with assorted facets of psychological anomalies as offshoots again with women at the receiving end.

In all these bodies of work, women and the crimes against them remains the fulcrum. The common thread that links these movies is the basic premise of danger, that women are/may be/likely to be subjected to, which is primarily of a sexual connotation. While it may render a gratifying feel to the audience that things otherwise cannot be accomplished (by them) in real life gets done by someone in the reel life (Easan or Yudham Sei), a question also arises as to the nature of the content that is being presented and its sub-texts.

Are the film makers trying to convey that it is acceptable to eliminate the offenders as it is futile to turn to judiciary or are they trying to tell that there are state-of-art techniques to make people vanish or is there an attempt to give an idea that there are different ways to bring pain to women?

It is fine to assume that cinema is just an entertaining medium whose core goal is to entertain the audience but the dynamics of film viewing and its equations have changed over a period of time as this art form has the potency to have a strong influence on the weak and vulnerable minds. The lines that separate the ‘acceptable content’ from the ‘not acceptable content’ is slowly blurring and that’s where the filmmaker’s intelligence and responsibility towards society comes into play to package the content in the right manner so as to get across the right message to the right target segment because there are hoards of people out there who take cinema seriously and look for inspiration from the medium. And it is no longer ‘only for entertainment’ purpose. That’s why we have many cine stars turning to politics and political parties turning to actors to bring in an appreciable increase to their vote bank. And that’s why we have temples for movies stars and that’s the reason we have huge number of fan clubs affiliated to different stars.

Some minds may still feel that the role of cinema influencing someone’s life is contentious. There could be an argument that this medium does not offer life altering courses and an individual does not become good or bad by watching cinema. This surmise could work for exceptionally strong or weak people because the former knows perfectly well the difference between reel and real and nothing much can be said about the weak minds.

However, there is a huge chunk of population in between, which is extremely gullible, which is sitting on the wall waiting to jump but not knowing which side to take the leap to. It is this population that needs to be tuned into the right frequency to make a positive difference to societal set up. It is this group that requires the right kind of impetus and direction to take their life, society and nation forward.

In Easan, the dad killing the daughter because she was raped, suggests a regressive thought process. Yudham Sei also followed a similar pattern where death seems to be the solution for someone subjected to such a heinous crime. Needless to say, any sexual (perverted) act against the consent is a trauma by itself and there are no two ways about its agonizing effects on the affected person. But at the same time let’s not close our eyes and thoughts to the fact that we live amidst perverse minds too and it is imperative to empower women (or the case may be) and the immediate family to help them deal with such crimes and its aftermath rather than to archaically say–‘you are raped and you are finished’.

This is where change agents like cinema, should seed optimism and hope in the minds of the affected party and help instill the idea that there is more to life beyond such acts. This is where talented filmmakers, through their films can render a totally fresh and radical perspective to things which could go a long way in life. Let films be not made that would be a ready reckoner in abetting follies but let films be made with a positive purpose instrumental enough to infuse uncompromising value systems to its audience. And we do have numerous such catalysts in our film industry capable enough to bring about those amendments.

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