“Who runs the world?” Girls! Nope. Well, not in 90s Malayalam movies, at least. Have you ever rewatched a movie that you’d enjoyed watching as a kid and then cringed AF at the misrepresentation of women in it? I have. Probably a thousand times. I’m sure Narasimham is playing in your minds right now. You see, back then, there were, many Malayalam movie scenes that were misogynistic.
If you take a look at some of the movies that came out a decade or two ago, women are almost always portrayed as the “weaker” sex, with their alpha-male counterparts incessantly mouthing dialogues that are laced with misogyny, to either derogate them, tame them or show them their place in the society. What’s worse, this has been normalised to a level where people don’t even realise it is misogyny. I’m not saying that there weren’t movies that revolved around strong and independent women and broke stereotypes, but those are just about countable on our fingers. Today, we are calling out a few misogynistic Malayalam movie scenes:
Jayaram is known to have portrayed characters that shove blatant patriarchal ideas in our faces. This is a scene from one of his movies, Pattabhishekam, where we see him accidentally landing in Kalyani’s room while he tries to flee from the palace where he works. If olinjunottam of her post bathing scenes wasn’t enough, when she tries to scream and call out for help, he muffles her screams with his hands and threatens her saying how he will make sure her shareerashastram is the talk of the town. He goes on to say how she will be ruined and be tagged as “aanakaarane salkaricha thamburatti”.
Listen up, women! Here’s Attiprackal Jimmy’s golden rules on how to be the ideal woman. She should:
- Never join the police force or take up any such tough man’s professions
- Prepare nellukuthari choru and manga pulisseri instead
- Marry a nalla Nair kochan and make sure you pop out atleast 10-12 kids
If this isn’t casual chauvinism at its best, then I don’t know what is.
If you thought the famous misogynistic scene in Kasaba was as bad as it got, then you should surely watch this. Not sure what’s with the whole obsession of having a female police officer go through such verbal chauvinism, but this scene from Praja where Mohanlal rebukes Aishwarya in front of a crowd is enraging, to say the least. We see the dude twisting the IPS officer’s arm, dragging her along, pressing her against a car, indicating a rape threat and later asking her to “zip up”. I just cannot decide if his dialogues are crasser or his actions are.
I’m sure when this movie released, this dialogue by Prithviraj which is actually a propagation of rape culture was perceived way differently. There would have been a thunderstorm of applause when he walked away from the ladies after delivering this distasteful dialogue. And let’s not ignore Roma and gang’s dialogues preceding this, as the whole thing is a cringe-fest!
Veruthe Oru Bharya
If regression was a movie, then this would be it. This movie is wrong on so many levels right from the opening song that shows Gopika doing all the chores in the world one can possibly do in a household scenario, without a soul to lend her a hand. What worries me, even more, is that the movie ends on the same note, portraying a woman as nothing more than a slave. In the climax scene, the penangi poya bhaarya returns, all appliances start running, the entire house appears spick and span. Wow, what a fairy tale! And they end it saying Veruthe alla bharya! Alla, veruthe alla, ithokke cheyyan aalu venallo!
Yes, believe it or not, gender equality is a messed concept in 2020 too! And that too, in this gem of a movie. A slap is what she got from her husband when she stood up for herself in front of her father-in-law. That’s what I thought until Koshi said “Ninak ith nerathe aakarunille”. So, is it justified if the motive behind the slap was to express one’s disapproval at failing to stand up for yourself all these years? A slap is a slap. And it is completely intolerable.
The idea of masculinity in the 90s was simple – embarrass a woman by belittling her intelligence, position or character and make sure it is done in front of a minimum of naal alkar. And then end the whole supposedly mass dialogue scene on a “ee paniyonnum ningal pennungalk paranjitullathalla” and walk off like you’ve conquered the whole world.
These are a few misogynistic Malayalam movie scenes we’ve come across. Have you noticed any other scenes that were misogynistic? Also, do share your thoughts about these scenes in the comments section below.