Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Feminism: The Long Spoken Ideology Of Women-Freedom in World Movies

Its usually an ideology that runs as the central chord of a film and adds strength to the script. Across the globe, several modern ideologies and thoughts have been delivered to the spectators. When it comes to an international film festival like Chennai International Film Festival (CIFF) the movies screened would be still better ones with stronger ideologies. At this juncture Feminism is no exception.

Feminism has been portrayed and proposed since the evolution of the epics, the Mahabharata or Ramayana. But, neither of these epics or any other early age works on feminism (except for a few like Silappathikaram) did justice to the ideology as they had always suppressed women in some or most parts of the story. While in the modern age feminism works, the creators are trying a lot by investing more efforts to prove the ideology. Several movies that were screened in CIFF too did the same.

'L'avenir' (Things to Come) by French filmmaker Mia Hansen finds itself trapped in the tight fight between hope and desire of a woman. The director employed her talent for charting the transient nature of time to explore the onset of age in a powerful yet tenderly ironic portrayal of a woman whose life is exploding around her. Nathalie, a teacher, has been portrayed in two different versions as she splits her day-to-day routine into two sections.

First is for her former students with whom she shares a lot of philosophy, while the next is with her family and her over-possessive mother. Her life is smooth, until trouble begins. Her husband seeks a divorce from her as he wants to leave her for another woman. At this point, despite the loss of a companion, Nathalie feels like new freedom is being thrust upon her and a she reinvents her life from there.

Most feminists who have made movies or written books have failed to deliver the true need for it. Again and again, a creator like Sujatha, K Balachander, Barathiraja or Balu Mahendra has made critically-acclaimed works on feminism and now 'Iraivi' (2016) joins the club. This movie, too, is being screened at the festival.

When it comes to 'Iraivi', the story line has shown different women in different situations but with a single context, 'expectations of their lifetime'. The expectations differ - from getting drenched in rain, wanting sex with a man or seeking a job after marriage.

On the other side, all the male characters in the movie have been defined in various shades. The first one thinks, 'even if I'm wrong, my life partner should be perfect'. The next one is the one who ruins his own life for his ambition but never cares for his wife. The third one wants all women to be free, but he is portrayed in a negative shade.

In a similar context, in the Arabian movie, 'Bar Bahar' (In-Between), again, the life of three different women from different family backgrounds have been dealt with. The three share the same flat in Tel Aviv in Israel and have three completely different forms of love stories.

One speaks about a woman from a traditional Islamic family who is engaged to a male who pretends to be perfect, but is actually a womaniser. So, she leaves him finally. The second one is a lesbian whose family prevents her from her relationship. But she runs away from home. The last one is about a trendy modern woman who falls in love with a guy with similar tastes but eventually he wants her to live according to his wishes. So, she leaves him in the end. The movie concludes with these three women sitting together on the terrace of their flat and enjoying the air of freedom.

In all these movies, feminism has been shown in different cultures but have the same thought process. It is all about the freedom that should be part of the life of a woman that leads her to live her life the way she wishes. And that's what Feminism actually is!

Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, January 10, 2017

Note: Some parts of this article would resemble my previous posts. I adapted my own content from Iraivi's viewer note for this article which was published in News Today daily on Jan 9, 2017.

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