4 reasons why 90mL is an important film!

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4 reasons why 90mL is an important film!

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Today is March 8th, which coincides with International Women's day. So I thought it would be fun to write about gender representation in Kollywood. But "lady superstar" Nayanthara has owned her solo outings so very well that it feels other heroines in the industry are left out. Hence I thought it would be better to concentrate on a particular topic like discussing the context of a single movie. In that case, the recently controversial release "90ml" starring Big Boss fame Oviya fits the bill.

In this highly opinionated column, I am trying to defend the movie. Keep in mind that this doesn't mean I loved the movie. I had my fair share of problems with the film in terms of quality and story-telling. Still, these are the four reasons why I think the film is important to Tamil Cinema's progress in the long run.

A girl gang movie in Tamil cinema

The first reason is pretty simple. We have seen boys having all the fun for so long that it feels only right for the girls to join in. Despite misleading promotions, 90ml is basically a girl gang movie. The adult content is nothing more than a click-bait. For the most part of the film's runtime, we get to see these girls having fun. That is a good thing.

Just like the boys in Chennai - 28, girls too always have a gang. They too share their feelings, joy and other human emotions with each other. They too talk about their love life and relationship issues. It is for once nice to see women expressing their polarizing emotions in a Tamil movie. They are naive, innocent (special mention to Shree Gopika's Paru here) and cute at times. But most importantly they are allowed to be mischievous, naughty and crazy on screen. It is a huge relief.

Does it hurt you, if a gang of women is having fun on screen? If yes, you have a problem.

A natural on-screen portrayal of women

The film touches upon a lot of topics ranging from infidelity to homosexuality. Though the film doesn't succeed in hitting the goal on all attempts, it does get the characters right on most occasions. It is not taboo for a woman to express the need for an active romantic life. A woman decides to be in a live-in relationship because she simply chooses to be in one. It's not because of a sympathetic past life. A woman can regret her decision to get married to a rowdy. I mean, how many times have our heroines fell for the hero just because he is a rowdy macho man? Do they ever regret?

And yes. The movie stays true to their feelings. We have a wife yearning for her husband's attention. We also have a wife who is simply caught up with her daughter so much that she just cannot find time to attend to her husband.

The girls drink, smoke and curse without actually being apologetic. The scenes are quite natural and less cinematic when the director doesn't try to do the masala movie stereotypes. There is a sense of honesty in the portrayal of these characters.

The movie is mostly not juvenile

This part is where I get to bash our mostly juvenile adult comedies. The movies that ended up being commercially successful like Iruttu arayil murattu kuthu, were pretty bad at handling humor. In 90ml, at least an effort is made to not ridicule homosexual relationships. In fact, one of the better scenes of the movie is where Paru warms up to her friend's lesbian relationship status. It is not like she is entirely okay with that. She just tries to accept the couple as who they are. These are really good signs for Kollywood.

Can our mass heroes talk about how fit they are on screen? Then why do they keep commenting on the figures of the ladies? These women embrace their figures on screen as if challenging our heroes to do the same. And in this scene, the comedy actually works. There are few jokes that are not sensible but are still way better than your average Tamil adult comedy routines. The movie gets a lot of things right by reversing the gender. And that is also why men who adored IAMK find 90ml hard to digest.

The defenders of our culture are awakened only when the movie is about women.

The movie is not trying to be feminist

The best thing about 90ml is that it doesn't preach feminism. The movie just doesn't care. Obviously, there are few dialogues that speak about women rights but they are just fleeting moments in an otherwise commercial film. The girls do not want to show the men how strong they are. They are not that serious enough to do that. They just want to enjoy life.

And you smile while watching them. That, I think, is the real success of the film.

Arunachalam Senthilnathan
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