It's true Jyothika quit films to get married but the trailer for 'Naachiyar' suggests that the actor is not letting marriage or motherhood define her career
The trailer for Bala's upcoming thriller Naachiyar shows Jyothika playing a rough and tough cop who brooks no nonsense. The teaser for the film, which saw the actor mouthing a common sexist and casteist cuss word, had sent ripples across social media, with several people objecting not to the word in particular, but to the gender of the person uttering it.
The trailer suggests that Jyothika has transformed herself into a character she has never played before – not just the cop role but how she's playing it. The aggression is distinctly different from the cutesy, "bubbly" roles that defined her career when she was acting with the industry's top heroes.
Jyothika, who made her debut with Priyadarshan's 1998 Hindi film Doli Saja Ke Rakhna, entered the Tamil industry with Vaali. In the film, she was the whimsical creation of a young man (Ajith) trying to impress a woman (Simran) with a fake love story. The O Sona girl, the half-sister of Nagma – who had done superhit films like Baasha and Kadhalan – became quickly popular. The 2000 film Kushi, in which she starred with Vijay, made her a big hit with the audience.
Jyothika in Vaali
In her first stint, Jyothika was known for her expressive eyes and over-the-top gestures (in a recent interview, the actor said that in those days, she was "over-acting" and not acting). The "loosu ponnu", the south Indian version of the manic pixie, was becoming the most favoured characterisation for heroines in mainstream Tamil films. The "feminine innocence" of the yesteryear heroine was further infantilised to create a child-woman whose "enthusiasm" and exaggerated gestures passed off as "cute".
As the next generation of heroes after Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan became larger-than-life and turned into demi-gods, the women they pursued on screen were increasingly relegated to song and dance sequences which would be preceded by a "romance" track. Jyothika, who is frequently described as "bubbly", played several such roles; but she also made some interesting career choices.
In Rhythm, for instance, she signed up to play a married woman who dies in a train accident. The same year saw the release of Snegithiye, a thriller which had only women actors in lead roles – a proposition that's still considered risky in Kollywood. Jyothika also experimented with genres when given the opportunity, doing films like the adventure fantasy Little John (in which she starred with American actor Bentley Mitchum), Perazhagan (in which she played a dual role, one of which was the visually challenged, de-glamourised Shenbagam), June R(which is about a young woman who "adopts" a mother) and Mozhi (her portrayal of a hearing and speech impaired woman won her the Tamil Nadu State Film Award).
In Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu, she played a single mom who attempts suicide because of a failed relationship, while in Pachaikili Muthucharam, she played the villain – a woman who seduces men and blackmails them for money. To be sure, Jyothika's acting wasn't on par with the likes of woman actors like Sridevi, Revathi, Gautami, Madhavi, Urvashi and many others who had ruled the screen before her time. She didn't have their versatility, but she remained likable to the audience, succeeding especially in romantic films like Dum Dum Dum and Sillinu Oru Kadhal.
Her character in Gautham Menon's Kaakha Kaakha, which established Suriya (whom she would eventually marry) as a star to reckon with, is still remembered by many as among her best. Fans of Suriya and Jo will swear that the couple, who acted together in seven films, shared the best on screen chemistry.
Jyothika had acted with both Kamal Haasan (Tenali, Vetaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu) and Rajinikanth (Chandramukhi was a massive hit) and all the younger stars (Vijay, Vikram, Suriya, Prashanth, Madhavan) by the time she predictably called it quits to marry Suirya in 2006.
Her comeback to cinema with 36 Vayadhiniley, the remake of the Malayalam film How Old Are You, saw the actor asserting herself and being vocal about women characters on screen. While many have appreciated her for speaking up, several have also cast aspersions on her intentions, believing her statements to be "marketing" for her films. Many have also been dismissive of her return to cinema, accusing her of sticking to doing vanilla, 'feel-good' films that use feminism as a crutch.
But going by what we've seen so far of Naachiyaar, Jyothika seems determined to stay and do so on her own terms. She isn't playing to attract the family audience, she's looking to establish herself as a "mass" star, the one who is greeted by wild cheers and loud whistles. While we've had actors like Vijayshanti who have ably performed fight sequences, a woman swearing and wearing her aggression on her sleeves – and being welcomed for it – is new.
While mainstream Tamil cinema is still dominated by male star vehicles, we're seeing some interesting changes in characterising the female hero – whether that's Jyothika in Magalir Mattum, Nayanthara in Aramm and Dora or Revathi in Gulaebaghavali. They get "mass" moments, the hero walk, and even punch dialogues. What's more, the audience seems to be lapping it up, at least in the metros.
Bollywood has its Vidya Balan and Kangana Ranaut. In the south, actors like Nayanthara, Trisha, Anushka Shetty, and Jyothika have reached a certain phase in their career when they are confident that their name on the title cards alone can bring audiences to the theatres. And they seem to be finding producers and directors who are willing to take a chance, too.
It's too early to pass any judgment about Naachiyaar, but one can safely say that the film is a sign of the times; even if it turns out to be terrible, it still signals the arrival of an exciting moment in Tamil cinema as far as gender is concerned. We're finally going to see a woman actor do her job, minus the baggage of marriage and motherhood dictating the roles she's "allowed" to do.
‘If you stir the hornet's nest, be prepared for oddities’: IPS Roopa in TedX talk
Roopa also appealed to bureaucrats to take on political leaders boldly to uphold the law even if they are faced with notices.
Police officer Roopa D, who famously exposed special favours accorded to ousted AIADMK leader VK Sasikala in prison in Bengaluru, said that bureaucrats should boldly uphold the law even if it means inviting trouble.
She was speaking at a TedX talk in Dayanand Sagar College of Engineering on November 3. The video of the TedX talk was published on YouTube recently.
Roopa is Karnataka’s first Kannadiga woman police officer. She has been transferred 17 times in her career.
Roopa was posted as DIG Prisons in Bengaluru when she was credited for her whistle-blowing act of pointing out that Sasikala was receiving special treatment in prison.
“I witnessed special treatment given to a particular convict, who was the close aide of the recently departed ex-CM of Tamil Nadu. The Supreme Court had convicted her under the Corruption Act for possessing disproportionate assets beyond her known sources of income. Jail officials had given special facilities to her as a quid pro quo. I reported it to authorities. After this report, I was slapped a defamation suit notice. If you stir the hornet’s nest, be prepared for all kinds of oddities,” says Roopa.
She also said that as a woman police officer, she faced times in her career when her instructions were taken lightly by her subordinates. She recounted an earlier experience from Gadag in 2008.
“In Nargund, a powerful politician who had been a minister earlier, addressed a gathering of his followers and gave an inciting speech that made his followers set ablaze three government buses. I instructed DYSP to arrest the politician as he was prima facie guilty of abetment of offence. There was videographed evidence of his speech. Not only did my subordinate resist and refuse but he also kept on arguing and lying that politician had left town,” says Roopa.
She was not one to budge and sat at the police station through the day and in the night when police officers brought the guilty politician to the station. Upon investigation, it was found that the ‘subordinate’ was in constant touch with the guilty politician and was suspended.
Roopa also slammed the VVIP culture of politicians that she observed in her career. When she was DCP of Bengaluru Armed Reserve she found that several elected representatives including MLAs, MPs and MLCs had kept gunmen in excess of the authorised number.
“I made a list and found 82 politicians had kept 216 gunmen in excess of the number entitled. I began withdrawing them and it was first resisted by my boss who reprimanded me in front of my subordinates but I kept withdrawing them until the last excess gunman returned to the police unit,” she says to applause from the audience.
She appealed to bureaucrats to take on political leaders boldly to uphold the law even if they are faced with notices. “These kind of notices cause personal discomfiture for bureaucrats. They take away personal time, energy and money if you have to fight it out in the court of law. These notices are an occupational hazards which have to be faced boldly by the bureaucrats,” adds the police officer.
A gendered understanding of this iconic Malayalam movie.
The idea of the feminine supernatural – the female ghost, the floating Yakshi, cackling away in a white sari, or the blood-thirsty Raktharakshassu – has been an integral part of horror movies since its inception and Malayalam cinema is no exception. Some consider the ghost a complete fantasy (as most of us like to believe), while others choose to see it as a constructed, imaginary projection of reality by the director/writer.
The latter idea leads to a different perception of the female ghost in Manichitrathazhu.
For most Malayalis, Manichitrathazhu is a part of their cultural lives and the film’s repeat value is exceptional. At the same time, cinema reflects its contemporaneous socio-political conditions. The film was made in ’90s Kerala, when the country was just opening up economically and new cultural influences were just beginning to interact with traditional society. Societal gender bias was challenged rarely. With most filmmakers, viewers and the heads of the families being male, cinema was largely a chauvinistic enterprise. Most directors or writers did not challenge the existing idea of gender roles, either because they thought it might backfire or because it never occurred to them. The strong reply was always that they were portraying reality. So let’s analyse these ‘realities’.
Who is Ganga?
Born in a small village (Evoor) in Kerala, she later went on to live and study in Calcutta. She is in her late 20s, well-educated and capable of taking her own decisions. The tall, urbane Ganga has defiantly open hair and dresses fashionably in salwar-kameez churidars and stylish sarees, unlike the other women in the film. The film keeps hinting at the fact that Ganga is going to be a troublemaker from the moment she arrives.
One of the characters in the film assumes her to be a ghost as soon as she steps out of a Maruti car, her silhouette bathed in the red glow of its light. In another scene, a character sees her eyes through an ornate wooden lattice and is terrified. Her husband is warned by the head of the family that girls from other families (Ganga is the outsider) will not be treated kindly in Madampally by the ghost (and even, perhaps, the family?). Later in the film, she is possessed by the ghost of a dancer called Nagavalli.
The fact that the writer chose the female dancer’s ghost to haunt Ganga, and not any of the other three women in the family, calls for an examination of the subliminal motives. Is the accusation of being possessed a representation of the Malayali masculine psyche’s unwillingness to accept the educated, modern woman with an opinion? By the end of the film, Ganga is ‘cured’ (has learnt her lesson) and decides to return to Calcutta as she feels that’s the best place for her and her husband. Does the film imply that Kerala is not a place for ‘women like her’? Could it also be a cinematic version of the lack of acceptance for the daughter-in-law in the husband’s family?
Who is Sreedevi?
She is the cousin of Ganga’s husband (Nakulan), who would have married Nakulan if not for problems in her horoscope. She marries someone else, has a troubled marriage and leaves her husband’s house to live with her parents.
As the film proceeds, the filmmaker leads us to believe that Sreedevi is the possessed one. The men in the family accuse her of being the cause of the trouble and soon the entire family, including her parents, are convinced. Her anger, smile and words sound conveniently evil thereafter. In a later scene, the family watches on powerlessly as she is ‘manhandled’ by the so-called doctor, whose only authority in the family is that of being Nakulan’s friend.
Through Sreedevi, the filmmaker hammers home the stereotype that the divorced or lonely woman is always trouble. Without the male presence in her life, she is portrayed as being insecure and incomplete. She is mistreated by an outsider and her aggressor gets away with it. Can she be ‘used’ in any way to solve other issues in the family? Towards the end of the film, the psychiatrist (who is wild and slightly unconventional) makes a marriage proposal to Sreedevi mentioning that it’s not easy to live with psychiatrists. Is he suggesting that it takes a ‘special’ person to marry a girl with a poor horoscope?
Who is Nagavalli?
The prolific dancer who was killed by the Karanavar (head of the family) for falling in love with a male dancer and not him. Nagavalli, according to the film, has two objectives behind possessing Ganga: to get back her beloved and to take revenge on her murderer. The filmmaker never imagines that Nagavalli could have other interests in life (or death) besides the two men. Supposedly a great dancer, we see Nagavalli dancing in the film only to seduce her lover. Another specific decision by the filmmaker is to make Ganga’s husband, Nakulan, the Karanavar who murdered Nagavalli. Ganga, once possessed, sees her husband as the villain.
How would it be if we reloaded Manichitrathazhu from a new perspective? Here’s our fresh take on the secret story the lies behind the locked Manichitrathazhu!
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction and not meant to hurt the film, filmmaker, or its fans in any way.
Ganga and Nakulan are returning to the Nakulan’s hometown. They have a disturbed marriage. The power equation in their relationship is dominated by a modern, educated and independent Ganga. They reach the village to take possession of Nakulan’s ancestral property. At his hometown, Nakulan’s uncle is unwilling to give him (his sister’s son) the share of property. As soon as Nakulan asks for the keys, the uncle cooks up a story of a female ghost that haunts the house (since ghosts are mostly female). Ganga persuades her husband and insists on living in the property that is legally theirs. The uncle realises that Ganga is the powerful and intelligent partner in the relationship. His plans being shattered by a woman, his ego is hurt. To resolve the problems brought on by the ghost story, Nakulan puts the blame on the uncle’s daughter – a widow. Nakulan insists that she is possessed. Her widowhood makes it easy for the rest of the men to buy the accusation.
Nakulan then calls an “alpha-male” friend into the family to settle all his issues. Nakulan explains to the alpha male that his failing marriage has to be solved. The alpha male understands that Ganga is a strong female character and she needs to be taught a lesson. He decides that Ganga being modern, educated and an independent woman is not welcomed by the husband’s family. ‘She is the one possessed,’ he declares!
Since Ganga was a problem figure for the uncle, he too agrees. Soon, the entire family believes that Ganga is possessed. The men group up, plan to ‘fix’ Ganga and bring her back into the family’s values and culture. The uncle and Nakulan team up though they have different aims. They execute their plan together.
Ganga has now learnt her lesson and decides to leave for Calcutta with her husband. The uncle gets control of the property. Nakulan gets a tamed Ganga. The alpha male decides that the widow has to be his partner. All the men are happy and the film ends.
Does this story not fit into the patriarchal context of Kerala?
This article was first published on fullpicture.in. Itz Chennai has syndicated the content. You can read the original article here.
The film takes a jibe at Lakshmy's 'Solvathellam Unmai' and also has a dialogue - "A good film Vijay has acted in? Which one is that?"
Tamil film Aruvi has opened to rave reviews and great word of mouth. However, not everyone is happy.
Actor, director and TV show host Lakshmy Ramakrishnan has taken umbrage to the film since it takes a jibe at her show Solvathellam Unmai. The film has actor Lakshmi Gopalaswamy playing a TV show host for a programme called Solvathellam Sathyam. The host is shown to be insensitive and hypocritical.
Lakshmy Ramakrishnan took to Twitter to express her displeasure about how the film allegedly portrays her and the TV show. She asked if the director or anyone from his family had appeared on Solvathellam Unmai to know so much about the show.
In the film, Aruvi is a HIV positive person who is mistreated by the TV show host. Lakshmy tweeted that many such persons had participated on the show, suggesting that they were treated with respect and not how the film had portrayed it. She also said that Aruvi was a "feminist film made by cheap & personal attacks on another woman."
She further said that while Slumdog Millionaire had based a part of the film on Amitabh Bachchan's game show, people were not made to think that this was how the show runs. She also challenged the makers of the film to face her on camera and answer her queries.
Lakshmy asserted that she was doing her work with social responsibility and that it was wrong to "belittle and demean" her for it.
This is not for the first time that Lakshmy has been upset at how the show has been represented on screen. The RJ Balaji-GV Prakash film Kadavul Irukan Kumaru also mocked Solvathellam Unmai, angering the actor-director.
Meanwhile, Aruvi has also drawn flak from Vijay fans for a scene that mocks the actor's films – the dialogue, "A good film that Vijay has acted in? Which one is that?" has irked some of them who've claimed that it was unnecessary for the film to take such a potshot at their star.
They have alleged that Aruvi is a copy of an Egyptian film Asmaa while others have said it is not so.
The producer of the film, SR Prabhu of Dream Warrior Pictures, tweeted that Aruvi was made purely to promote love and humanity and that the film had no intention of offending anyone. "Nevertheless, we apologise if we have hurt anyone," he said.
NCW urges Zaira Wasim to file complaint after actor alleges molestation on flight
"I AM REALLY HORRIFIED THE WAY THIS INCIDENT HAPPENED AND AFTER THAT THE CREW DIDN'T HELP THIS GIRL," NCW CHAIRPERSON REKHA SINGH SAID.
The National Commission for Women (NCW) as well as the Delhi and Maharashtra commissions for women on Sunday urged actress Zaira Wasim to file a police complaint after she alleged she was molested on a flight.
Zaira, (17), narrated through social media the ordeal she faced on a Vistara Airlines flight from Delhi to Mumbai, claiming that a middle-aged man sitting behind her, moved his foot up and down her neck and back.
The NCW has stepped in to take action.
Its chairperson Rekha Singh told the media, "I just saw the video on Instagram and my heart goes out to her. I am really horrified the way this incident happened and after that the crew didn't help this girl. That was very shocking because Vistara claims that it has zero tolerance and they have not sensitise their crew to take action against men who torturing women on flight.”
"So, I am taking suo moto cognizance and giving notice to Vistara also a copy to DCP Maharashtra to act against the airlines. We would like to tell Zaira that we are there to help her out in any way we can," Singh added.
Swati Maliwal of Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) urged the Dangalactress to lodge a police complaint.
"Highly condemnable. Urge Zaira Wasim to file police complaint. Accused should be arrested. Since flight was from Delhi to Mumbai, the DCW is issuing notice to Vistara Airlines seeking details of man, action taken by airlines and SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) followed in such matters. Now even flights are unsafe for girls," Maliwal tweeted.
Maharashtra State Commission for Women (MSCW) Chairperson Vijaya Rahatkar condemned it as a "shameful incident".
"MSCW will direct DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) to conduct inquiry in the matter. We will inquire into the steps taken by Vistara to address the complaint. There should be inquiry about why the cabin crew did not help her. We have directed the Mumbai Police to look into the matter immediately.
"It is sad that none of the co-passengers came ahead to help Zaira. We are with her, and will ensure she gets justice."
On its part, Vistara Airlines has said it will investigate the issue.
"We have seen the reports regarding Zaira Wasim experience with another customer on board last night. We are carrying out detailed investigation and will support Zaira in every way required. We have zero tolerance for such behaviour," read a post on the Airlines' official Twitter page.
In yet another development, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also demanded strict action.
Abdullah tweeted, "The passenger should be identified to the police by @airvistara and a case filed for legal action. None of this 'he fell at my feet, so I forgive him' rubbish!.”
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