On sexism


For someone who grew up on Tamil movies and Hollywood, that the mise-en-scène and the screenplay can be used to not drive something or someone forward is a pleasant surprise in itself. Therefore my judgment of La soledad may be biased by that novelty factor; but I did enjoy it immensely. This may also be a right time to ask critics who judge movies for bad screenplay what they actually mean. Tautness of screenplay, as clearly proven by this and many others like it, is not a yardstick in itself. Though I’d admit, if the point of the movie is tautness then drift in screenplay is a failing.

On the topic of criticism however, one wonders whether the higher standards of intellectual honesty in portraying life do not apply to age. La soledad had two instances of partial or full frontal nudity. On both occasions it was natural and poignant. On a third instance, in a similar situation, the director chose not have a nude scene. The difference being, in the first two instances the women in question were comparatively younger and in the third the woman was about, say, 60 years old.

This possibly subtle and probably blatant objectification in an otherwise wonderful movie is a let down in some sense worse than the formulaic manipulation by Hollywood. On a scale comparable is this,

If he tears apart a villain who besmirches womanhood, stripping off a girl’s dupatta, it’s because it’s his girlfriend who’s at the receiving end. (Of course, after this act of gallantry, she repays him by jiggling about in a bikini top, rendering utterly meaningless her apparent shame upon being deprived of that dupatta. Then again, this display is solely for the hero, on screen, and all of Tamil Nadu off of it.)

There used to be a time when such insensitivity to objectification and sexism sounded funny. I am not sure if I grew up or they became stale or both. I had to just throw the Sunday Express away and pick The Hindu up again.

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