My first encounter with “Bangalore’l nalla freedom ayirikyum, alle?” was when one of my distant ammavans was gauging my ‘Marriageability Index’. Not surprisingly my demand in the marriage game was staggering between a 0 and a negative because of the grievous mistake I had committed – I studied in Bangalore.
Though unsaid, I could see all the cloud bubbles pop up on this ammavan’s head with me in scenarios such as doing drugs, going to drinking nights, sleeping with consenting men (multiple), and worst of all me dressed in clothes that are not half a dozen yards of elegance but barely a dozen cm’s of shame.
But then again, why does a major section of Malayalis find it repulsive to send their children to Bangalore?
Is it because Bangalore ultimately gives the most sinful thing to their child – freedom? (Which by the way, is a myth because my parents still wanted me back at home by 6 PM, in Bangalore.)
Is it because amaavanmaar generally have no content for entertainment, so they pass judgments on the morality of a person simply trying to live their life?
Or is it the internalised misogyny making cameo appearances? Why exactly is the ‘westernised lifestyle’ of a Bangalore girl a threat to ‘Malayali morals’?
Also Read: The ‘Aan-Penn’ Paradox!
Now, while I’m still relatively clueless about why people associate Bangalore with the same tropes as a night in Las Vegas, I believe that it could possibly be due to the media portrayal of Bangalore. After all, that’s where we base the majority of our opinions, second only to WhatsApp forwards. There are movies like Charlie and 22 Female Kottayam that subtly reinforce people’s perverse ideas about Bangalore.
What do both the movies have in common? An unconventional female character who lives their life by their own rules. If in Charlie, Parvathy gets asked, “Bangalore’l nalla freedom aayirikyulle?” by an auto driver who has no business in her life. In 22FK we see characters saying upfront that women from Bangalore are easy catches.
But then again, we tend to have a selective consciousness that drains out other portrayals of Bangalore.
Like why do ammavanmaar think of Bangalore life as Hangover and not KGF ? KGF shows Bangalore too. Why don’t ammanvanmaar assume that there are big shot Mafia groups in Karnataka that somebody’s daughter could be associated with? Sipping tea at Vidhana Soudha in the morning and bombing some Halli in the evening with the gangs. That would be a lot safer than giving her freedom.
While changing this mindset is not easy, considering how stubborn we Malayalis can be, it is something we can hope for. Bangalore Days was one such breath of fresh air that shows Bangalore for what it really is (minus the traffic-less roads). The movie broke out of the usual portrayal of Bangalore and Anjali Menon showed how it’s just a city that gave people the license to dream and is filled with happiness.
Happiness being key as Bangalore is all about “swantham karyam nokki enjoy maadi”. It could be a long morning ride to Nandi, planning a weekend getaway and landing in Nandi, planning to drink tea and landing in Nandi, getting high and ending up at Nandi. Escalated quickly, but you get the drift.
Long story, Bangalore’il nalla freedom’aa. But this freedom should exist everywhere.