Lessons in Tamizh culture

On some days, I get worked up over things that have little relation to me. For instance: I got flustered merely thinking about the women in Shankar’s movies, and this started the moment I began thinking about Amy Jackson in Ai. I fail to understand the casting of a British woman in a movie made by Shankar (wasn’t Ekk Deewana Tha punishment enough?). I may take to it easily though, it shouldn’t be too different from Punjabi heroines attempting to mouth Tamizh words. She could just be another woman in the list of Shankar’s heroines I dislike.

We have Susila in Gentleman, who is the epitome of feminine grace and elegance – she makes applams, sings, dances, covers herself with a saree, only taking away the pallu to remove some dirt she found stuck on to her lover’s name on a signboard (i.e., she sacrifices her modesty in order to cleanse her man?). In contrast, there is the character of Sugandhi, an over-enthusiastic girl from Delhi, who is more fashionable and outspoken than Susila; and who is therefore molested in a public space – owing to her inappropriate clothing. At this point, after a long drawn out action sequence featuring Action King Arjun, we get to learn from the hero Kicha how it is Sugandhi’s fault that the lecherous men tried to touch her, and this is the reason Susila will be never be fondled in public (on account of her being the ambassador of Tamizh values and propriety).

There is Thenmozhi in Mudhalvan – an innocent, eighteen(?) year old girl, we are told. Manisha Koirala must have been instructed to play cute – the horror. Yet another woman portrayed to be immature, annoying, and slightly unhinged, all in the name of cute. Thenmozhi is proud of her man Pugazhendhi, for he has usurped the Chief Minister’s chair by means of an interview, and proceeded to win over the people’s hearts by doing one good deed after another. When he visits Thenmozhi’s village, he is treated with reverence and given gifts; innocent Thenmozhi does not have anything of value to give this man who has everything. Therefore, she bares her heaving bosom (of course she is wearing a blouse underneath her dhavani) and asks the hero to take: if she cannot gift him something materialistic, she might as well give him her (priceless) virginity. The hero will only give her a chaste embrace in return: even in an encounter with his willing lover, he lets her retain her preciousssss.

Moving on to Nandini in Anniyan, an Iyengar girl who (yet again) sings, and is studying medicine. She is not burdened with the task of being cute, she simply has to be exasperating. I am reminded of a scene from Thalapathy in which Rajni pointedly tells Shobana: nee iyer veetu ponnu, bharatanatyam aadra ponnu, paatu paadra ponnu. Assuming Iyer is interchangeable with Iyengar, we have Sada portraying this stereotype yet again. But even more tiresome is Tamizhselvi in Sivaji (her name is melodramatic too, in perfect sync with all the scenes she stars in). She is made to speak atrocious lines about skin colour; and she gets the requisite pallu removal scene – this time to stop a speeding train from running over Rajni. We are repeatedly counselled about acceptable Tamizh conduct, only to walk away with this scene manipulated to showcase Shriya Saran’s (bodily) attributes.

I am irritated all over again.

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3 thoughts on “Lessons in Tamizh culture

    1. Thank you!
      That line in Thalapathy feels more funny than irritating to me, because it seems as though they are just trying to show what an outsider(?) might think. I have had many people tell me something very similar..though I know nothing about either of the two..haha!

      Liked by 1 person

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