Disclaimer : The post is dealing with only Malayalam cinema because I don’t have enough knowledge to extend the details of this post to the movies of other languages. But, considering that we live in India, I am sure that most of what told in the post could be generalized.
Lessons for Women
1) Women should not shout
It is a common and indispensable dialog in a Malayalam movie. If ever a woman shouts, then the next dialog will be a man shouting back at her reminding her that a woman should not shout. I think this dialog comes automatically from a scriptwriter’s pen. Also, a woman’s voice touching the roof of the house or coming out through the bedroom wall will collapse the house.
2) Girls should be courteous, coy, pleasant, well dressed, well-mannered, and presentable and she should know cooking
Most of the movies will have a five to ten minutes session for advising a girl to be a “girl”. This is the part where the hero gets to talk on and on about his knowledge about perfect women. The situation in the movie will be as follows. The girl will be smart, talkative and independent. She likes to wear western attires and the clothes suit her well too. There will be a positive vibes of happiness around her. She drives a car. She eats food cooked by her Mother or maid. What on Earth is wrong in that? But, then there comes the hero. He tells her that girls should be coy and demure. Girls should not talk much. Girls should wear a saree. Girls should know cooking. A girl allowing the man to drive is feminine. He would shame her either in front of her family or in front of her friends. But neither her family nor her friends would stop the hero from puking the advices. Instead, they would stand like statues. Then with a heavy heroic background score the hero will leave the scene. And the transformation happens. There she is, our heroine, standing in a saree with her neck drooped and cheeks blushed. She fell in love with the hero.
What the !!!
3) Life is lost, nothing is lost, but chastity is lost, then everything is lost
When I hear some dialogues, I feel that the world is balanced on a girl’s chastity. A man going to jail by killing someone is still a matter of pride but a woman losing her chastity is the biggest sin. In Malayalam cinema, there are only two solutions for this problem. One; the girl’s family, at times the neighbourhood will also join the family, begs the molester/rapist to marry her to wash off the bad name on the family. The girl’s father would fall on the molester’s feet, the girl’s mother would beg and finally the wedding happens and they live happily ever after. A song will be shown to portray the transformation of the molester and then the girl’s gets pregnant and delivers a baby boy and all is well. Two; the girl kills herself and all the shame and crack in the family honour are restored in minutes.
4) No matter what goes wrong, it is always a girl’s mistake
This dialog is reserved for the girl’s Mother. And yes, Mothers are always right. If a man stalks her, it is her mistake. If a man gropes her, it is her mistake. If a man rapes her, it is her mistake. If a man gives her a love letter ,it is again a girl’s mistake. If the family business dooms, then it a girl’s (daughter – in – law) mistake. No matter what shit happens, end of the day, it is always a girl’s mistake. Why did you allow him to stalk you? Why did you allow him to touch you? Why did you walk through that route so that he felt like raping you? You must have definitely done something to attract/provoke him.
5) The best way to shame a girl is by talking nonsense about her morale and conduct
Any woman could be silenced by talking nonsense about her morale and conduct. The misconduct could include travelling alone, talking with boys, going out with men, drinking/smoking habits, going to clubs, going for western form of dances(traditional dance forms make a girl divine),failed relationships or marriage, not obeying her husband or parents, and wearing clothes which are not in the list of clothes allowed for a Malayali girl. Between every two lines, the hero or any other male character would boast a lot about the culture of Kerala and if the scriptwriter include point no.2 also, then this scene will be received by thunderous applause.
6) Nirvana of a woman’s life
This scene comes when a girl refuses to get married. Either her Mother or Aunt gets this piece of dialog. The scenes teach us the importance of getting married and staying married. The dialogues are gems of life changing information that they explains how important it is to have a man in a woman’s life, and how important it is for a woman to be accepted by the in-laws. And a woman’s life is completed only when she suffers the pain of delivering a baby, preferably a baby boy so that she has somebody to take care of her once the Husband dies.
7) Education is shit!
Girl: “Enikku padikkanam” (I want to study)
Girl’s parents: Pinne,padichittu collector aakan povalle. (Oh, as if you study and become a Collector)
These two dialogues are one of the most clichéd dialogues. Any time, if the girl refuses to get married and tells the parents that she wants to study, then the parents will shun by teasing her.
Some other dialogues related to education of a girl are
- Pennkuttikal padichittendha oru kaaryam,veruthe kaashu kalayan.Aa kaashu kondu avale kettikkan nokku (What’s the point in a girl studying? Waste of money. Instead spend that cash and get her married off)
- Pennkuttikal itrayokke padichaal mathi (This much education is enough for girls)
- Veettukaaryam nokkan valiya padipponnum venda (You don’t need education to take care of a house)
- Veruthe padippichittu pennine vazhi thettikkano? (Why do you want to educate her and spoil her conduct?)
- Valiya degree undayittonnum oru kaaryamilla,vallathum vechu undakkan ariyanam (Having a degree is not a big deal. You should know how to cook well)
8) A girl is the light of the house
This is the safest way to make a girl obey the rules of patriarchy without making her feel that her life is restricted within an invisible boundary. The society and the movies glorify this fact so much that this is imprinted in people’s mind. They proclaim that girl is everything for a family and then impose rules on her to fulfil the mandatory conditions to be the light, mop and mixie of the family.
9)A girl falling in love
Though recently there has been a change in real life in the way the family reacts when they find out that the girl is in love, the cinema industry is still stuck with the chaos mode. The Father will blame the Mother for not making the daughter understand the value of culture and the family pride. The Mother in turn curses the daughter and blackmails her by holding kerosene can ready to pour on her. If she falls in love with somebody of a same caste, then the chaos level is normal. If she falls in love with somebody out of her caste, then the chaos level is at its maximum with a ten fifteen minutes scene of explaining her the family’s tradition, pride and name or about the hardships which the parents had to undergo to bring the kids up. If the girl falls in love with somebody of other religion, then the chaos cannot be measured. The Father would declare either to kill the daughter or go to jail (yes, killing daughter and going to jail is an awesome act) or to suicide together as a family.
10) A family which has to survive on a woman’s earnings is shame for the predecessors
This dialog is slightly out of fashion now but the grandparents who are heading the family cannot sleep without delivering this dialog whenever the women in the family wants to go out for work.
Lessons for Men
1)Slapping a woman is a man’s birthright
In Malayalam movies, slapping a woman is considered as the most matured act of a man. Husband slaps wife, brother slaps sister/s, and strange man slaps strange woman. In short, slapping is considered as the best medicine a man can give a woman to shut herself. An argument goes on and instead of the third dialog, the man slaps woman and there will be roars in the theatre. Women in the theatre shamelessly nod for this telling it was the heroine’s fault and getting one or two slaps will only make her a better woman.”Onnu koodi pottikeda avale”(slap her once more) is a common dialog which male audience shouts and most of the times, the man on-screen slaps her once more as if he has heard the audience. See, the scriptwriter knows the audience well.
2) Love a girl? Stalk her,dude!
I don’t have any hopes about this trend dying soon. Some writers are even more brilliant. At times, raping her makes her fall in love. The hero whistles, tries to hold her hands or hair, follows her everywhere, intrudes her privacy and then voilà, she falls in love. The much appreciated Annayum Rasoolum was an epitome of stalking .A stranger following you daily at night till your doorstep is creepy and not romance.
3) One of the duties of a man is to protect family’s honour
The man will never allow anybody to spoil the honour of the family. So the best way to restore the family pride is either by kicking the girl out of the house or by killing her. If the family is powerful, then they can kill the man with whom she is in love and then force her to marry somebody else.
4) He is the decision-man
He decides and he orders. He decides what the Mother should do, what the wife should wear, what the son should study, whom the daughter should marry etc. The family which runs on a man’s command is a good family and a family which runs on a woman’s command is a bad family. It is an itching for the screenwriter if he doesn’t portray the family ran by a woman as a bad one and then an angelical man would enter into their lives and advises the woman head of the family to step down. He takes up the place as head of the family and all is well. The End!
5) Rules for men
A man should know how tame a woman and make her obey him.”Pennine varacha varayil nirthuka”(making the woman obey the man without protest) is a classic art and a man who learns it is THE MAN. Obeying wife or Mother(or any other woman) is considered as degrading the manliness. Other men would advise like “poyi chathoodada”(Cant you go and die?) if they come to know that their friend listens to his wife/Mother.
6) The sign of machismo
Womanizing by getting bored of sleeping with his wife is a sign of machismo but if a woman strays then she is a whore. The hero would list out why he is bored with his wife and then nobody asks a question. Should I explain what happens if a woman sleeps with somebody else?
7) Mistakes made by men are never mistakes
Men make mistakes but every mistake made by them is pardonable even if they kill somebody because they will always have a valid reason. The scriptwriter will make sure that the man(especially the hero) has enough reasons to support him for his actions; even if he rapes a woman. In that case, the man will sob saying I lost my control, it was a mistake—Do you think I will ever do such an act when I am sober?
8) Want to take revenge?
A man has the power to spoil a girl and the girl’s family. So if you want to make another man obey you, the best way is to threaten them to rape the women in the family. Why using your brain when all you need is to open the zip? Seriously, when we watch certain movies, the plot tells it without any shame. This is considered as the easiest way to threaten or take revenge.
9) The freedom to fall in love
A man has complete freedom to fall in love with whomever he wants. Why is it so? A man has the freedom to tell about his openly but a woman telling her love is a risk. Not just in movies, even in real life, people around her would tell her not tell anybody because it will reduce her chances for “good” proposals.
I doubt whether there is any movie which tells the man not to fall in love. Why is it so?
10) Man is always right…
…even if the woman counterpart is more intelligent, more educated, smarter and more talented than him. Period.