The other day, after braving an almost-thunderstorm, A and I made it to Bridge of Spies on time. I drove with one part of my brain wondering what would happen if a tree suddenly fell on the car. (If news footage is anything to go buy, the answer is, car gets crushed.)
A said to me at one point, “These rains are so inconvenient.” I tend to agree with her. I detest walking on the road when it rains. The puddles and the garbage floating in them set me on edge. Imagine all the houses with water dripping from the ceiling (yes, including the one I live in). The transformers that burst. Once my mother asked me to accompany her to a temple on a rainy day. I did. She told me it was not very nice of me to complain about having to walk barefoot within the muddy (and dirty) confines of the temple. But I couldn’t wait to run back home and wash my feet; I was almost having a panic attack. Thinking about it still gives me gooseflesh. I digress. So I said to A, “Well, it is good from the point of view of replenishing our ground water.” A thought about it for a bit, and continued, “Hmm, it is not considered very girly to say you don’t like the rains. It is almost as if you are expected to fall in love with the downpour.”
How many times have we seen women playing in the rain in Tamil movies? They play with little kids, sometimes without. They dance and jump and squeal, and probably make little paper boats (I last made one for myself when I was six).
Presenting to you in chronological order:
- Oh Oh Megam Vanthatho from Mouna Raagam: The chirpy and exuberant Divya (Revathi) cannot resist doing a choreographed number with her friends when it starts raining. As a result, she goes home late, when she was expressly told to return early (because there is a bride-viewing ceremony waiting to happen).
- Vaan Megam from Punnagai Mannan: Malini (Revathi) is ecstatic after finding out that the man she loves in fact returns her affections. The rain here signifies her joy and she sings about the success of her love (as well as the raindrops).
- Enge En Punnagai from Thaalam: When a woman and her sisters (Aishwarya Rai et al.) want to practise classical music and/or dance, they do so in the rain. We don’t know why it must be done this way, unless the rain will miraculously improve one’s voice. This is originally a Hindi movie, but since they did us the favour of releasing a dubbed version, we shall include it.
- Megam Karukuthu from Kushi: Jennifer (Jyothika) feels no visit home is complete without a rain dance. As an interesting aside, she wears shorts. I am curious as to how this would go down in an actual village.
- Poopol Poopol from Minnale: Reena Joseph (Reema Sen) gets out of her car and starts dancing with children she sees on the road (who are already playing in the rain). The hero sees her do this, and is captivated by her beauty and innocence (?), which he happens to observe when a flash of lightning lights her up the way a cinematographer would.
- Sil Sil Mazhaiye from Arinthum Ariyamalum: How do you make your lady-love feel better when she is recovering in the hospital? You take her out in the rain, line up some children she’s probably never met before, and then all of you dance until you are diagnosed with pneumonia.
- Nee Varum Pothu from Mazhai: Shailaja (Shriya Saran) jumps out of the train as a Rajasthani troupe sings a Tamil song. She then performs a song and dance routine on the railway platform, while both hero and villain look on. How do we distinguish the hero from the villain? Hero is captivated by her playfulness, his eyes do not wander below her neck. Villain makes lascivious gestures, he observes the shape of her waist and other curves on her body.
- Ennai Konja Konja from Aathi: This song deserves special mention. Both the hero and heroine exhibit extreme fondness for rains, as well as eating Jamaai ice cream cones in the rain.
- Nanare Nanare from Guru: Sujata Desai (Aishwarya Rai) loves the rain. She waxes eloquent about the thunder and raindrops, and even dances to an appreciative audience of three kids for a few seconds. The dance segues into her (failed attempt at) running away from home.
- Chaaral from Kuselan: Nayanthara (Nayanthara) gets out of a chauffeur-driven car, and dances with children. She is wearing what looks like an unnecessarily tiny version of a plaid school uniform, and the lyrics talk about how the rain takes her back to her school days.
Credit is due to A, who did not think it strange when I asked her for additions to my list; and for engaging in this conversation while still meeting deadlines at work. (We discuss movies often enough for it to be known that I’m serious about my request.) This is a very niche category – we are looking at songs that have their women dancing in a demented way (in the rain), because of my/our special annoyance with the way these women seem to lose it when it rains. This category may or may not overlap with the ‘heroine introduction song’, but we are only considering introduction songs if they happen to showcase the heroine’s (excessive) love for rains. The other categories that we are interested in include ‘rain duet’ and ‘heroine dancing seductively in the rain for hero’s (and male audience’s) sake’ – but I think these deserve their own post.
Does this child-woman appeal to you? Do her cutesy antics make you smile? Why do movies frequently infantilize women?