Tamil movies play a huge part in our culture. Actors become idols for little children and every line, every action whether it is an eyewink or a salute, is engraved within us. Though we all know that what happens in these movies can be unrealistic and even idealistic, they do leave an imprint on us and I believe that we should be aware of these messages. More importantly, I would like to reveal some of the gender stereotypes that are portrayed in these movies so that we can realize how sexist and ridiculous some of them may be.
Padayappa was undoubtedly one of the most memorable hits of the 90s. Even today, lines from that movie are used as slogans, memes and for some, principles by which they live their lives. However, the underlying plot to this incredible movie is extremely sexist and bias. For those who have not seen the movie, Padayappa is a young handsome hero who catches the eye of a young woman named Neelambari. After seeing him, she sets her mind to attain him as her husband. Unfortunately, Padayappa does not reciprocate her feelings and Neelambari is cast as the villain of the movie. Her character is cast by this dark shadow only because she relentlessly, without shame, goes after Padayappa over and over again. Furthermore, her entitled attitude and ego is portrayed as disgusting personality traits. More specifically, “Yettanai jenmam edutaalum athigama aasai padure ambalayum, athigama kovam padure pombalayum nalla vaalnthatha saritharame kidayathu”. In other words, a man who wishes for too much, or a girl who gets angry too easily, will never live happily. To many this quote is equivalent to a commandment, yet has one ever wondered how this story would be if Neelambari was a man? She would be portrayed as a HERO! A typical hero in any Tamil movie is one that goes after a girl, who initially like Padayappa, says she is not interested. He then, will try and win her over. This can include him sabotaging any possible relationships that she may develop with other guys as well as trying to find out where she lives, works and goes to school. However, if a hero in movie does it, it is viewed as romantic but for a woman it is “un-womanlike”.
Besides sometimes being a sexist industry, the Tamil Cinema can also portray some risky maybe even illegal acts as normal and a must to win a girl’s heart. Yes, I am talking about the hundreds of cheesy and weird ways the heroes in movies make girls fall in love with them. Lets take a survey shall we. In Santhosh Subramanium, Santhosh played by Jeyam Ravi, bumps into a girl in a temple, immediately falls in love and then uses his friends to search road by road until he finds the girl’s home address. In Vaaranam Aayiram, Surya played by Surya, meets a girl on the train fall in loves with her and then follows her all the way to the United States from India with a guitar to prove how much he loves her. In Vetaikaran, Ravi played by Vijay bumps into a girl at a train station, falls in love, steals her gold bangles and tricks the girl’s grandmother to make her fall in love with him. Finally, in Kireedam, Sakithivel played by Ajith, steals a Ganesha statue that is beloved by a girl. When the girl finally figures out that it is he who stole, he forcefully brings the girl to a coffee shop and states that he wants to get married to her after he gets a job and have a boy then a girl as children. So according to all these movies, in order to get a girl a boy needs to stalk, steal, trick naïve old ladies and most importantly not give up on the girl no matter how many times she says no. Furthermore, no matter what, the girl will fall in love with the guy despite the many illegal things he may do to win her.
The reason why I am pointing all this out is not to bash the Tamil Cinema. No, it is a beautiful source of entertainment and there is a lot of skill that goes into each an every movie. However, one has to realize that some of the messages being sent in these movies can be somewhat skewed. Boys, you do not need to do illegal things to win a girl’s heart, actually there is more of a chance of you doing the opposite. The antics that you see on the big screen only works because there is beautifully played background music when the guy steals the girl’s jewellery or when he is stalking the girl to find her house. Girls, don’t expect guys to pull extraordinary tasks to win your heart, they are also simple people like you. Finally, yes a girl is a girl and a boy is boy, but it does not mean he or she should not have confidence and go after what he or she wants. There is nothing wrong with being ambitious or going after what you heart wants. Just do not get it on other people’s demise and most importantly do not go after something that is not yours. The Tamil Cinema is an amazing media to connect with the Tamil culture but please think before you start to believe that what you see is how it should be.
Written by: Anon Ymous