Change is the only constant in life they say. Except for the love your admirers have for you. Amongst people that can’t stop talking about Thala’s humble attitude, unique style, delicious biriyani that he cooks for everyone on set, powerful messages to his followers and Aduthavan Bayam Namma Balam, I beg to differ.
We live in a society where judgements are given more importance than empathy. Gender restrictions have been imposed on us from a very young age. Starting from the very beginning we are taught how to sit, dress, talk, eat, walk and live. In general, to become the perfect secondary.
Not only are we trained to say yes to everything that comes our way but the other gender not trained to take a No for an answer. To live in a society which doesn’t believe that no can actually mean no doesn’t make things any easier for us. Makes me think sometimes, are we anything here but mere objects? Objects that satisfy everybody else's needs but their own.
We understand the situation. That we as women are equals and much beyond our biological differences. That we are capable to take care of ourselves and exist as independent individuals with dreams and desires of our own. That something as meagre as a voice to speak or consent is as important to us. That your touch is not something I’d want and that my body is my right and not anybody else’s.
But how do I convey this to a society where we have always been a secondary? Where shame (maanam) becomes more important than pain and justice. Where the victim rather be shunned than the criminal punished and where money and power can easily manipulate fear. We would rather have our daughters kill themselves than hold their hands and stand with them against the ones that have wronged. We are to blame in a way for not having questioned the life we've been taught to live. Why was his curfew always much longer than mine? Why was he allowed to go abroad for studies while I wasn’t cause my safety was a concern? Why am I always supposed to listen rather than speak? Why did we applaud every time a stalker was portrayed as a hero in films? Why were we okay with the concept of item songs that only objectified us? Why is every damsel in distress’s sole objective in films to be saved by the macho hero who would then happily impose his authority on her under the name of Romance?
Made me wonder if anyone would break the cliche! And if they did, why did they? Why did a star like you decide to play an older role in a film which takes a stand on feminism when everybody else wants to believe that it's only by the women for their benefit. Why did Thala choose a film like Nerkonda Paarvai?
Change is the only constant in life they say except the love and respect I have had as an admirer for you. When thousands of people are waiting for another commercial thala film, thanks for choosing to do something that doesn’t fit into this luxury. For doing a remake that stirred controversies in Bollywood risking your hold in the industry. A film that states over and again that no means no despite the gender and sexuality and for deciding to take a stance and create some awareness.
Dear Ajith, Maybe this film will not change the restrictions that my grandmother would impose on me. Maybe I’d still be looked down upon for doing things that my male counterparts would proudly boast about. But maybe, it would make my uncle think twice before victimising me the next time. Maybe my mother will let me come back home at the same time as my brother. Maybe my boyfriend will be more supportive, my colleague less assertive and maybe just maybe that random guy on the bike will think twice before following me home everyday because he’ll realise the importance of consent. I know nothing is going to change overnight but I also know that if Thala has something to say, then there are people listening. People who know you’ll only tell the right things and people who are willing to think and believe in your statements. So thank you for taking that risk for us and reinstating our belief in stars and fandom.