Sunday, March 11, 2018

Male Chauvinism in Tamil Cinema..

       Among the popular themes meant for emphatic narration through the film medium, male chauvinism has been as much in focus as feminism.Tamil cinema has projected the power of feminism both vociferously and vibrantly through several films like Penn,Pudhumai Penn,Vaazhvu En Pakkam,Vaazndhu Kaatukirein and the most recent 36 Vayadhinile. In the same manner,ever since the beginning of Tamil cinema, the negative factors of male chauvinism have also been significantly and substantially portrayed as the evil face of men casting a blot on the mirrors of the family and society.The face of the male chauvinist might be that of the villain or even the hero.But cinematic imagination has never failed to expose its deplorable sight,both in long and closeup shots.
     The moment one thinks of the male chauvinist in Tamil Cinema,there appears the ruthless face of M.R.Radha either as a domineering,or as an ill-treating husband.How naturally he performed the role of a reckless wastrel and wayward husband, showing brutal indifference to the feelings of his wife, in films like Nalla Idathu Sambandham and Ratha Kanneer. Both Sowcar Janaki and Sriranjini,were found to be mere puppets in the hands of this masculine warlord.Rudeness became the synonym of Radha,in these films and he essayed these roles with a devil-may-care attitude and an itch for debauchery.
     Was it not the role of a powerful male chauvinist that he portrayed in K.S.Gopalakrishnan's most critically reviewed film Sithi?As the father of grown up children as well as a kid in that film,Radha was looking for a second wife,after the death of his first wife and brazenly married the socially disadvantaged Padmini,just for the sake of fulfilling his sexual desires.It was one of the most dynamic films of Radha and confidently did he expose the ugly face of the male chauvinist. Padmini would plead with him to escape from his chauvinistic moves and hardly would he ever budge to her pleading. As a dominating husband and wife beater, Radha was always invincible.
     Next to M.R.Radha it was the Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan, who tried to assert male superiority in quite a few films like Motor Sundarampillai,Paar Magale Paar,Baratha Vilas and Dheiva Magan.In all these films it was the impact of wealth coupled with the arrogance of being the male, that brought out the effective inner layers of his characterization.However, in Sivaji Ganesan's display of male chauvinism,one could always notice an inherent weakness of the ultimate surrender of the male to a kind of emotional cauldron, that would purify the character of the male and  evolve it into a form of dignified manhood.
      In other words what Sivaji Ganesan would largely portray as the male chauvinist, was a kind of male pride strutting and fretting and finally hitting the ground realities,through a reforming late realization.Most of the characters he played in family dramas,were those of a male patriarch, with the majesty of heading the family tree,with its roots of gentle and soft emotions ultimately getting warmed up,to a strengthening family bond.In this respect,Sivaji Ganesan's Male Chauvinist roles never failed to stamp their positive image of the hierarchic and esteemed position of the male,as the head of the family. Such a spirit of patriarchal supremacy was vibrantly reflected in the role delivery of great actors like S.V.Rengarao and S.V.Subbiah.
      R.Muthuraman,the close contemporary and intimate fellow actor of Sivaji Ganesan,also poignantly demonstrated the element of male chauvinism, by his inspiring performance in films like Veettukku Veedu,Dheivam,Sooriya Kandhi,Sondham and Raman Ethanai Ramanadi.Dheerga Sumangali was another film in which his character beautifully combined the traits of an uxorious and chauvinistic husband.As a dynamic, chauvinistic husband Muthuraman's roles always travelled between the male supremacy of Sivaji Ganesan and the male arrogance of M.R.Radha.
     Rajinikanth was seen as a repulsively erring male chauvinist in films like Thappu Thaalangal and Gayathri.Vijayakanth did such oppressive characters in films like Naane Raaja Naane Mandhiri and Amman Koil Kizhakkaale.But excepting Gayatri, in the other three movies the heroes were made to realize their negative inner self and set positive goals for a new lease of life. In Gayatri, it was the role of a confirmed, nasty villain that Rajinikanth played, indulging in a trade of  wife- selling.
    The present trends are very much against the male chauvinist.The male would not be shown as undermining the rightful claims of the female, in any field, at the cost self esteem of the female.Characters such as misogynists, sadistic males and the Casanovas, come and go on the big screen,on a selective basis.But in a civilized world, heading towards gender equality norms,feminism appears to be a more acceptable term than male chauvinism.Hence male chauvinism is doubtlessly becoming an old theme in cinema,though in real life, male chauvinists still do exist as vocally,as feminists.