Scenarist and film critic Deedi Damodaran chooses five films that she feels were fair in portraying the gender issue.
Scriptwriter Deedi Damodaran chooses five movies from across languages that portray women in a positive light. She says the choices are in no particular order. Deedi, who scripted Gulmohar and Nayika, is the first woman scriptwriter to be inducted into Malayalam Cine Technicians' Association (MACTA). While picking five movies that portray women in a positive light across languages and genres, she maintains that none of the movies is truly feministic or essentially women-oriented. Still, they are bold steps in terms of looking at women in a different light.
22 Female Kottayam
(Director: Aashiq Abu)
I pick this film mainly because the protagonist is a woman. She controls the way the plot is taken forward. It is after such a long time that Malayalam filmdom is seeing a women-centred cinema in the mainstream. Rima Kallingal’s name is shown ahead of Fahadh Faasil, when the acting credits roll, a rarity considering the male-dominated system. Although the film has many flaws in terms of the methods the lead actor uses to win the situation, 22 FK proved that a woman is capable of becoming angry, that anger is possible for her. But when Tessa (the character played by Rima) takes the help of DK (played by Sathaar) to take revenge, the main cause gets diluted.
(Director: Sujoy Ghosh)
First of all, this film attacks the patriarchal notion that leading women should be young, pretty, and virtuous – therefore desirable. By portraying a pregnant woman out to solve a mystery, Kahaani highlighted a condition that has not changed much across the ages. Menstruation and pregnancy are often used as tools to alienate women from the mainstream as if these are something to be ashamed of. Kahaani hits out at such social constructs. The revelation that the pregnancy of Vidya Bagchi (the protagonist played by Vidya Balan) was actually an act can be read as patriarchal interference though.
(Director: Michael Heneke)
The internationally acclaimed film has an ailing elderly woman in the lead. The male and female protagonists complement each other in their activities, dreams, and decisions. The man does not get an upper hand here. They are almost an extension of one another. In this tale of partnership, the female is not the so-called desirable body for the audience to feast upon. Every movement of the heroine, even a mere look, lends a unique stamp to the narrative.
(Director: Jayan K. Cherian)
Our society is not yet ready to face the statements this film makes. The film deals with gender and Dalit issues in a raw manner, and I feel these are causes that are inseparable. Here we have a woman who was raped at her workplace coming back to rebuild a very active life. Papillio Buddha chooses not to beat about the bush. It is bold and clear and relevant. No wonder the state was worried by the revelations made so loudly and unapologetically.
Chitrangada: The Crowning Wish (Director: Rituparno Ghosh)
The film, which tells the tale of a choreographer struggling with his gender identity, so effectively proves that gender identity is just a social construct. Sexual difference is merely a biological fact. Chitrangada lashes out at all aspects of gender stereotyping with regard to gender-based urges, roles, and behaviour. The movie explores what it means to be a man or a woman. With the director (he plays the lead, too) himself living a life defying the social constructs, we see a process where life itself becomes art.