I watched this brilliant movie today called Yudham Sei, directed by Mysskin, staring Cheran in the leading role. As much as I am tempted to write a review on it, showering all praises and acclaim, I realize that it is another strong thought that is gripping my mind and makes me want to write.
Yudham Sei in brief: A group of perverted rich men kidnap and rape girls. The family of one such victim, who were otherwise leading a normal happy middle class life, decide to avenge these people and start executing gory murders on them.
Well, there you have it - all the frills of an intense crime thriller. Yes, I am a huge fan of crime thrillers packed with suspense and that probably explains why I instantly fell in love with one that was brilliantly executed. However I realize that most of them these days have one common thread running along them - rape.
Take Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyadu - Psychopaths committing serial rapes and murders.
Naan Mahaan Alla - Perverted young men raping girls as a hobby
Easan - Rich boys raping girls for fun
Yudham Sei - Old crooks raping girls for pleasure and hobby
I might be missing many names. If I am not wrong, I am guessing from its trailer that Gautham Menon's next, Nadunisi Naaigal also runs along this theme.
Now, I am not implying that rape is taboo and it is a sin to be talking about it. I am not implying that rape is non-existent in the society and it is unrealistic to be talking about it. What is to be pondered here is what are such portrayals doing to the masses' minds?
For one thing, I feel it stresses and establishes at the forefront of the mind the gender advantage - the power privilege that men have over women. Every rape depicted on screen is a reiteration of the fact that a woman can be subdued by a man physically. Forget whether it is ethically right or wrong... by the end of the movie, what the mind carries home is probably not the fact that the villain was punished but the graphic details of how the rape took place. It definitely lingers for a long time.
What happens when you are watching a rape on screen? In certain ways, it is subtle pornography thrust on you. True, they dont show the whole thing but if long timers, who have seen both, are to be believed short symbolic glimpses have good, if not more effect. So, what happens during those few minutes? Embarrassment could be a safe cover word. Yet, deep within, for women, the cringing might be due to the suggested weakness sealed and affirmed on screen. For, rape is perhaps one of the biggest subjugation acts of men over women. End of it, the scene establishes the woman's body as a medium through which her entire self can be conquered and that her body is a desirable thing that gives pleasure on being attained.
Is it worth reinforcing these over and over again through a visual medium like movies? As such, having women as mere dance-around-the-trees utility, item-number glamour providing utility in films have done enough to assert a skewed sex equality. On top of this, I believe emphasizing rape as a focus of the plot is not helping. For, I repeat, those scenes do not cater to our moral spirit but instead to our animal instincts, and what we take back home is not the message but the picture.
Out of the theater, not that every man would have transformed into a rapist himself. Yet, how is he going to look at a woman? My gender probably translates to him subconsciously as "a vulnerable weak species whose body is always made a big deal about...desired by many...and who could be subjugated in certain ways". And probably this thought, in turn, creates many commonplace avatars and habits.
- of 'checking out' the body and face primarily on meeting a woman
- Egoism that believes "Afterall she is just a lady, how dare she talks this way" (Ponnu unakke ivvalavu na, payyan enaku evvalavu irukkum)
- Extreme protection that borders on domination - "Dont go there!" "Dont do this. It is not safe for you girls"
- the attitudes that believe that it is OKAY to whistle, hoot or pass snide loud remarks when a girl walks by
- the cynicism on seeing her ride a bike
Come on, these are not as horrible as rape, you say.
Alas, you forget that you are emotionally raping the woman everyday.