Male Chauvinistic Nature of South Indian Cinema, it's effects on Young Keralites and their views
Mainstream cinema has always been in the forefront of upholding traditional values, this conformity factor is very evident in the average cinema the industry produces. At the onset of the Dharmaśāstras (After the Vedic period), there was a decline in the status given to women in society. Education and even religious studies were not encouraged for girls and they were far down in terms of social status, unlike the Buddhist era which was the precursor to the Vedic period. Law of Manu’s (Manusmriti) and other movement’s effects can be felt to this day, young women were considered ‘under’ their father and then later ‘under’ her husband, pre-puberty marriages were common and remarriage was not an option. Caste laws and brahminical systems were and still are harsh on women. The Muslim invasion didn’t help the situation either.
In book V of Politics, Aristotle has stated that one of the two general reasons for revolution is the strong desire for justice. Recently we have seen an uprising from the women of the world. Only strong action calls for a reaction, and that too in a manner of a violent outburst. Even though Aristotle believed that men should be politically higher than women.
We can safely assume that, because our society is evidently male-dominated it will also reflect on the cinema that is coming out from the said society. Film and Media theories (Stressing on Hypodermic Needle Model) have taught us that everything that is on the receiving end of the mass media can influence the mass directly and efficiently.
Since celebrities are an integral part of our culture now and people feel obliged or they unconsciously play into the culture because of the illusion of the belief that they are partaking in something bigger than themselves, similar to religion or superstition which was precisely made to keep the members of society to be less indifferent. Terror Management Theory by Jeff Greenberg, Sheldon Solomon and Tom Pyszczynshi proposes that this might be due to the fact that sapiens are aware of their inevitable death. This can be used as a spectacle while observing society revolving around celebrity culture.
India fell to the 130th rank in the Gender Inequality Index (2017) and it is evident if we look around. Yuval Noah Harari in his book Sapiens says that time does not play a role in the gross happiness of the people living at different eras, precisely this
adaptation of human biochemistry has enabled us to trivialize the immediate problems around us and to be satisfied with whatever that there is, which is a barrier to the rapid advancements in cultural ideologies. This need for Serotonin and Dopamine of the average person is quenched and the fact that society after the industrial revolution value efficiency more than anything delivered these hormones whenever we needed it. This surge in satisfaction behaves like a wall to intelligent critical thought. These chemicals are at play when we watch cinema. Films of male chauvinistic nature cater to the animalistic nature of males, with sexual imagery and alpha male features of the characters. These films feed off of the empathetic nature of sapiens and this fact might be oblivious to both the filmmaker and the viewer. The psychology is clearly reflected in the cinema that is being made, for example, we differ from Dziga Vertov’s theory that the camera will act as an objective spectacle of society and we let the subjective character of humans translate into the way a character is portrayed. We can see this by examining films in which the frame of the scene itself is the male gaze. The symbiotic feeding between cinema and culture where fragments of society are reflected in each film and cinema reaffirms the characters of the society it represents instead of questioning it.
Since India is the largest producer of films in the world, it is important to have an urge to look at movies critically and intellectually. The share of female characters on average in Indian cinema is said to be around 24.9%. This fall in representation also means a fall in the exposure of stories of women and/or bias toward the masculine side of creative expression. It is often noticed that the media can stake ethics and national interests for the sake of the consumable story. Blumler & Katz’s Uses and Gratification Theory helps us to understand that there is a relationship between the male-dominated film industry and the male-dominated film-going community. The gratification of the needs of the male audience, desires and fantasies is completed this way. Also, there is a dissonance created by the women character
Cinema is as much of a business as it is an art. The media can provide content on the basis of two quotients, 1) What content should I produce in order to make maximum returns and 2) How can I make the mass consume my commodity. These two factors have made content creators think not for themselves but for ways to effectively monetize their skill.
As stated earlier about how the character of a society will reflect in its cinema can be justified by the fact that in the first Indian film Raja Harishchandra (1913) by Dadasaheb Phalke, a mythological drama, male actors were used to portray women. India has produced Actors that are considered iconic all over the world, even when comparing it to the international market of movies. People like Rajnikanth, Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachan are well known all over the world and little women
have come to the forefront of the scene.
Mainstream Malayalam Cinema is considered one of the most progressive amongst the others in India and is celebrated all over India. Nitpicking out of this industry in 2020 is not fair but necessary nonetheless. The capitalist character of the current era has made people value efficiency more than ever, this strive for efficiency has spread to all aspects of life because most of it is already monetised.
Films like Arjun Reddy (2012, Sandeep Vanga) have been one of the most successful films amongst youngsters. It has a sizable amount of following. The film is about an alcoholic doctor (Vijay Deverakonda) who fails to handle life after she breaks up with him. The film shows the main character going into a downward spiral mentally and this downward spiral of the character is fetishised throughout the movie. Apart from seeing films as a work of art, the ethics of it are rarely questioned. These new-age archetypal images can affect the conscious thought and the person's perception of the world. People that have little to no media literacy will confuse film with reality. To portray a misogynistic character is one thing, to glorify it is another.
Recent cinemas such as Kasaba (2016, Nithin Renji Panicker) and various Omar Lulu films were under fire for their blatant in it. Kasaba had images where the police officer (Mommootty) refusing to salute a senior female officer, handing her a cigarette butt requesting her to dispose it somewhere and offering sex that will make her walk wrong for a week, as a way to make it up to her for not salutting a senior officer. This has caused quite the controversy and rightfully so, the Women Commission Board of Kerala has sent notices to the actor Mammootty, director Nitin Panicker, and producer Alice George. The reason for this notices was, in the words of the chairperson of the boards is as follows:
The film used dialogues which were "insulting to womanhood in general".
In the name of freedom of expression, women cannot be insulted whether it is for
character or else.
When an actor like Mammootty is involved in such projects, it may lead to a "dangerous acceptance" of such actions and remarks in the society.
The actor Parvathy Thiruvothu that criticized the film also received rape and death threats for calling out the movie. As of Omar Lulu, taking Chunkzz (2017) as an example scenes depicting talks depicting the female teacher Jolly’s navel during viva voce exam, the professor using a female lecturer to lure students to the class and the following scene where the professor teaches students an analogy of four quadrants that determine which point in a graph is positive or negative to the names of porn stars
and B-grade actresses name to make it easier for them and countless other scenes, songs and so on.
The movies Masterpiece (2017, Ajay Vasudev), Odiyan (2018, V. A. Shrikuman Menon), Jalikattu (2019, Lijo Jose Pellissery), Ishq (2019, Anuraj Manohar) is used in the questionnaire to see which movie the young audience prefered, the two former movies depicts heros in a more classical sense, Jallikattu is more of symbolisms and more Avant-Garde in nature and Ishq is more leaning towards a social justice tone in it’s message. The choice of the audience will be a message in itself.
Through this work, we attempt to dissect the nature of cinema, how it affects humans and also use data from the survey to understand whether the young population sample is affected by their favourite movies.
Allen, J (2020). Male Chauvinistic Characters of South Indian Cinema. Afribary.com: Retrieved January 18, 2021, from https://afribary.com/works/male-chauvinistic-characters-of-south-indian-cinema
Jason, Allen. "Male Chauvinistic Characters of South Indian Cinema" Afribary.com. Afribary.com, 19 Dec. 2020, https://afribary.com/works/male-chauvinistic-characters-of-south-indian-cinema . Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.
Jason, Allen. "Male Chauvinistic Characters of South Indian Cinema". Afribary.com, Afribary.com, 19 Dec. 2020. Web. 18 Jan. 2021. < https://afribary.com/works/male-chauvinistic-characters-of-south-indian-cinema >.
Jason, Allen. "Male Chauvinistic Characters of South Indian Cinema" Afribary.com (2020). Accessed January 18, 2021. https://afribary.com/works/male-chauvinistic-characters-of-south-indian-cinema