2018 has been historical for the nation with the rainbow colors emerging free in the wind, breathing the breeze of pristine romance as the most unlawful part of our constitution under Section 377 that criminalized homosexuality was scrapped. Bliss hit the air. The MNCs fulfilled their dutiful part ,taking to vibrant colors in support, serving the assigned corporate social responsibility.The screens that played a significant part in propelling the movement gathered an advantage to draft its love letters to this beautiful romance sans a clandestine style.
Yet, Bollywood chose to treasure the secret under the tagline "the most unexpected romance of the year" with its special rom-com Ek ladki koh dekah toh Aisa laga ( How I felt when I saw the girl!).This film did play it safe, arriving only at the surface of its theme but it is surprisingly special. When the previous Hindi flicks dealt with homosexuality primarily as a sexual orientation, this film couched the same as an affair of the heart for love is not merely about the beds. A probable reason that this short tale went with a safe stride lies in its deliberation to portray the core issue - lesbian love in a humble and normal way possible. That's the desired direction we are looking at!
Travelling down South towards the Kodambakkam coasts,we land in an evolving sphere of Indian Cinema - Kollywood .The Sairat storm hit the country by 2014, spreading a red carpet for Dhadak while the origins lie in the 2004 Tamil film Kaadhal.We ,the flag bearers of such realistic and rich cinematic notions,have come a long way since then.
Today is a part of an era where Aruvi, Seethakathi,Pariyerum Perumal ,Petta ,Peranbu, 90 ml, Irutu Araiyil Murattu Kuthu - all coexist, leading to intricate, inexplicable but intriguing patterns of progress. 'Now ' is the most compatible time to pose questions on the possibilities of witnessing reflections on the remarkable yet restricted same -sex romances in Tamil Cinema. Have we not talked of it earlier? Yes, we have - in a serious tone in films as Vanjagar Ulagam and Taramani.
Vanjagar Ulagam revolves around Sampath, blind and brutal by a love that dare not speak its name. The society's vanjanai for him turns him a Vanjagan with the cruel rest. He becomes an eccentric psychopath with minuscule soft spots and an extensive love for Bala.This truly is a bold stroke in a brilliant thriller but the lines are blurred as a result of which a tinge of homophobia arises towards the end .Sampath comes off as contrived and contained even in his early days.The fact that it is the society's take on him that made him this lies pretty far from the falsehood that he is this way as a consequence of his sexual orientation. The distinctions,unfortunately,merge, strengthening the stigma that conceives this way of love as a dreadful disorder - of the body and the mind. This is where and why the notion of balance attains importance while dealing with this sensitive theme .The travel is destined at a very fine line and a slight slant at an inopportune place and pace could pose the danger of a collapse. Hence, Sampath's love ,sadly becomes a part of his eccentricity while a young naive female with desires like that of anyone else her age has to wear the brunt of it all.
A sensitive and sensible portrayal of gay - love finds place in Taramani but again it is the ingenuous Althea Johnson who has to pay a hefty price for it. These two noteworthy portrayals are plaintive and powerful but they conceive the core issue fundamentally as a " problem" and deal with the same in parts. A full - fledged feature isn't yet dedicated to gender-less love in our town.
In the meantime, we have had Hara Hara Mahadevaki in the same year as Taramani and Irutu Araiyil Murattu Kuthu in the same year Vanjagar Ulagam hit the screens. The salacious boycotted YouTube sit-com had yielded itself to a fruitful film franchise. In one hand, it definitely is liberating to note humor help break the barriers around the taboo. But on the other, the direction, the same assumes poses concern when not associated with robust terms. IAMK did yield a fun stroke to homosexuality but in a very poor light.Well, the genre it came with doesn't gratify necessary glorification. All the mentioned examples talk on " he loves he ".
Well, we exist amid an innate societal structure that has held men's needs in higher priority over that of women's.
The gay love comes regretfully with a roar of ridicule with men shamed ruthlessly for being girlish and to our dismay, the discussion is not free of a sexual charge. The conversation goes deep, burdened with appalling social horrors .This draws us to Ernest Gaines' unanswered question:
“Why is it that we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?”
Let's take a diversion here, arriving at the parallel, less explored universe of "a woman loves a woman". It is not all magical here. Yet, as a theme, it has a softer and a more delicate touch to it - a premise that uplifted "Ek ladki koh dekah toh Aisa laga". Kollywood has had astounding romances from Mouna Raagam to 96 and its prospective potential to deal in the area of lesbian love proves promising as the widening sphere of talents is in favor of unbridled optimism.
However, we will have to loosen up, ease the state and talk of the mysterious mystique in a humorous, hard hitting and loud way that isn't anywhere lewd and ludicrous.The critical challenge lies in dealing with the orientation- not as a peculiar problem but as a conflict as common as the great Indian obsession over caste and religion (that gave way to legacies like Vinaithaandi Varuvaiya ,Arjun Reddy and prominent others) and individual differences that disrupt and construct love stories as in Alai Paayuthe, Neethane En ponvasantham, et cetera.
96, one of 2018's most moving films spoke the humble language of love with an elegant eloquence, but if we reduce the one line, it comes down to a night which an unmarried middle-aged man and a married woman spend together. This simplification sounds a bit off color yet the notion has been remarkably constructed with striking subtlety that is both convincing and beauteous. This is an instance of our makers' ability to gift a unique and fascinating touch to romance.
Julie Anne Peters, the renowned American author of adult fiction, writes,
" Cut the ending. Revise the script.The man of her dreams is a girl."
Kollywood's minds can definitely go the length and add something to marvel at. The will and way of creation demands an incredible quantum of empathy, veracity and conviction- which our talents seem capable of offering. The script of Ek ladki koh dekah toh aisa laga was developed in active collaboration with Gazal Dhaliwal, a trans-woman writer who enhanced the authenticity of writing with significant inputs inspired from her real life accounts. Such productive script consultations and collaborations are something that we ought to hint at and crack to ensure reassuring results as the lifeline of these intrepid and troubled love stories lie in enhanced empathy which the creator has to initially garner to efficiently establish the theme and leave an effect.
The creative scope, hence, lies considerably clear but as Vetrimaaran rightly reinforced, "Cinema is a mixture of science ,commerce and art". With the presence of notable ( and countable) production houses that propel films, staying dedicated to purpose and meaning, the aspect of "commerce" seems a challenge that is no wild but wieldy.
Will we need a man as the Sonam Kapoor - starrer did? Maybe not! We have lovely women lead who can draw significant crowds with their formidability. A cameo might settle comfortable while an uninterrupted attention to the line of romance will permit venturing into feasible fathoms - a step that the Hindi flick failed to make.
Should we trap the audience with a surprise like this film did? (It was not widely revealed that the film- Ek ladki koh dekah toh Aisa laga will deal with lesbian love) That's a tricky question. Maybe, we should, for the issue here is not niche and exclusive but prominent and predominant as the ones raised by movies like Saatai and Nanban. Films of these sorts ought to enter our living room conversations even when they turn out chiefly to be romance. Remember how all age groups cherished 96 ! Such inclusiveness is rare but quintessential to the issue in point.
Back then with 3 Idiots and Nanban, parents did ask "What do you want to be?". Now, with films reviving needful awareness and acceptance of homosexuality, the fun and form will work wonders if it could rightly translate itself into the basic and vital question of "What are you?" Hence, a fructuous flattery with innocuous falsity will do more good than harm. The trick qualifies as a crowd- attracting strategy, that should consciously guard itself from extending to conventional crowd pleasing ones. Talking of this part of the play, here is where heed has to be paid to the principal question Gaana Baala raises in his effervescent song from Attakathi that goes:
Nadu kadalila Kapalla Irangi Thalla Mudiyuma?
Oru thalaiyaa kaadhalicha Vella Mudiyuma?
(Can we get off in the midst of an ocean to steer the sail?
Can one sided love even attain victory?)
It is no one way street here where the prep is to be done in entirety by the makers. At the end of the day ,it is the audience who feed a film its life. The fate of the one sided love with which the film arrives rests in our hands. We can either embrace or exclude the affection.
This new-age romance phenomenon, devoid of gender might take its time to arrive as we, the audience warm up to it. It is exciting and above all, essential. At times, all it takes is one film to change so many things. In worlds unjustly tied to dejections, disapprovals and disgust, one sweet scene, one approving smile, one soothing song and hence one passionate film can pave way for sunshine!
Just let your imagination wonder on what would it be if Jessie and Nithya, the enthralling GVM's women are in love, where one takes to the stage (preferably,Nithya), humming in a husky, haunting voice:
"Aayiram Azhagiyar paarthathundu
Aanal Aval pol paarthadhiali
Vaa Vaa enbadhai vizhiyil sonnaal
Mounam Endroru mozhiyil sonaal "
( I have seen a thousand adorable women,
But not any like her!
"Come, love!, she summoned with her eyes
In the language of wondrous silence)
One could indubitably bet that Jessie's complicated, warm and pleased reaction to this grand gesture would be priceless! Leave the conflicts that would unfold with this range of romance to the creator's credibility. Just warm up to the wonder!
With the merry of Valentine’s day still in the air, let’s extend acceptance and a touch of hearty embrace to all forms of love that know no gender, caste, religion and other absurd diversities. You don't fall in love with the gender. You fall in love with the person!
Life is too short not to celebrate love. Let’s take the stride forward showcasing and cultivating curious support to proud voices that sing their love.
The wave will hit Tamil Cinema very soon with a fresh and fascinating note.
Get ready to hear a woman hum, " Avalukenna Azhagiya Mugam! " to her gorgeous lover girl. The worthy wait begins!