Oh, Those Jerks They Call Heroes

[Originally Written For Talk Magazine, Bangalore ] Love has always been one of Tamil cinema’s favourite narratives, somewhere betwe...



[Originally Written For Talk Magazine, Bangalore]


Love has always been one of Tamil cinema’s favourite narratives, somewhere between Corrupt Politicians and Evil Maternal Uncles. But lately, Tamil Cinema’s interpretation of love the past decade - that is, post 2000 (bet you thought 1990, ha!), I have issues with. The post 2000 decade saw a lot of evolution and shifts – in ideas, thought processes, values, technicalities and more importantly, in stories, the kind of humour people enjoyed, the kind of cast the audience wanted to see on screen, the parts of North India from where heroines were sourced (and consequently cast as the “simple local girl” of some village in interior Tamil Nadu, because let’s face it, if the audience can buy  a plot where a guy can become a millionaire overnight by singing in front of a black background, Chandigarh and Theni are practically neighbouring cities), the works.  Unfortunately, where the element of romance in Tamil movies was concerned, it was less evolution and more Frankenstein experiment gone wrong.  


Modern romance and love in Tamil cinema has taken the two steps forward and ten steps back route – basically an urban, real, raw story with a 1980s Naatamai ending.  Now the urban, real, raw hero’s idea of an urban, real, raw romance is basically harassment, and that he gets his way at the end of it, is really disconcerting, because if you peel the sticker of “hero” away, all you get is your everyday stalker who hangs around in your bus stop. Whenever I see these kinds of movies, as a girl, I feel seriously offended. It’s not even just about the harassment, but that the hero-stalker believes that he’s been victimized because the girl “rejected” him – it’s, for the lack of a better word, bogus. What’s even more bogus is that after the relentless pursuit, harassment and invasion of personal space, the heroine realizes that he’s the absolute one for her and that he is actually a really lovable guy in his own urban, real, raw way. 

It’s important to note that Tamil Cinema is an education by itself for most people, which is why “mass” heroes always have a title song about important values like doing good, praising the lord, living in villages, charging correct autofares, the lot. So when movies that glorify harassment and teasing and “correcting” the deviant ways of women (which includes wearing jeans) it is not just validation, but encouragement for that kind of behaviour to thrive. Every time I see the upper middle class to rich, educated, heroine falling for the “diamond-in-the-rough” Prince Charming psychopath who had to call her crude names to win her heart, I can’t help but wonder if the Directors would be okay with their sisters doing the same, their daughters doing the same. Ah, but it’s only a movie! 

There is no equality or balance in the equation anymore. The girl isn’t an object of affection, but prey, like some exotic deer rabbit that our hero has to hunt down to prove his ability as an expert marksman. And the girl has no say in this, because if she’s not interested, she’s simply heartless. Or doesn’t have morals. Or both. Because you know, this is how urban, real, raw love stories are! Here’s an idea for a realistic movie – boy sees girl, boy follows girl, girl says no, boy still keeps following, girl says no, boy doesn’t listen, boy keeps following, girl asks him to stop, boy gets angry, says she doesn’t deserve any better, tells her that the only good decision she can take right now is to reciprocate his truelove, girl tells the police, they put him in jail, the end!
This rant comes from a place that is sick of watching extreme creepiness being peddled as “romance.”  7G Rainbow Colony, for instance, was a huge exercise in frustration. Oru Kal Oru Kannadi gave me blood pressure. Avan Ivan made me want to punch a wall or two. 

At this point I’d like to reaffirm my love for Tamil Cinema. I love the experience, to just sit in the theatre and watch an ordinary man becoming something larger than life in a span of three hours is an experience that is unparalleled. But when things start hitting you closer to home, it becomes uncomfortable and consequently unbearable. Recently, when I talked about this with a friend, he pointed out to the classic (and probably the greatest) Romantic Comedy of our generation, Singaravelan

I love that movie to the point where I can quote entire scenes off it. But when I think about it now, something doesn’t feel right. Underneath the hilarity, there are a lot of questions – why did Sumathi have to change her wardrobe to only Sarees after she decided she was in love with Velan? Velan had made a family promise to marry Sumathi, yes, but does that justify the endless pursuing? I think the reason Singaravelan stands out and makes you want to forgive it’s subtle moral lessons/misgivings is because it gave us a chase, not a hunt, and it gave us two characters that even the audience wanted to get together, it gave us romance, unlike the movies of today where all you want to do while watching it is get right into the movie screen, grab the “hero" and punch his face.

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17 comments

  1. What happens when a bunch of dingbats decide that the groundnut putting techniques illustrated in these films are actually meant to be a real life instruction manual?

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  2. Did you see Sundara Pandiyan? A review almost in the same vein..

    www.facebook.com/mathi.smanian/posts/10151132790952740

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  3. its' sacrilege that you found singaravelan funnier than MMKR which incidentally has both varieties of chase. there cd be a addendum to this post as to how the only way a girl chases the "hero".

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  4. Nice post.Though personally, my choice of endangered species would have been the tiger.Or the rhinoceros.Would have gone well with the hunting bit methinks.

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  5. Very interesting! and yes, give those 'heroes' a punch! you know whom i mean- those long bearded ones,dressed in rags,who do not look like they have taken bath in weeks. they need a soap more than a girl. I don't say looks are everything. But incidentally, these will be road-pickers too,who expect the feminine charm in girls,and think they can win over her! Crazy movies :)

    Reading your blog for a while now, and I like it :)
    Sindhuja

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  6. Had a similar thought going in my mind when watching Moonu. He just keeps chasing her around everywhere and then she finally agrees. Wish it was so easy in real life :P.

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  7. When I moved to a new city as a student, I actually used 7G rainbow colony as a yardstick for making new friends i.e if someone said they liked the movie, then I knew I had to stay as far away as possible from them !!

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    1. was taken aback by ur 1st line, but then, bingo!!! you've got it!!!

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  8. Great post, agree with everything said.

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  10. Awesome post, thoroughly enjoyed every one of your posts. Keep writing a lot more!!

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  11. great great post!!! was fuming abt this among family & friends--- sometimes, i used to get angry in the theater & my ppl had to cool me down!! this psycho--ness(!!!) of the hero-characters is jarring, to say the least. i'm really scared when i think that many guys follow these heroes in real life too. scared abt the plight of young girls, esp the good-looking & well-off ones.

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  12. Right Said ! Negative movies have become a trend 7G , 3 , mayakam enna total waste of time. The worst part is when people say that movies of this sort are out of teh box thinking and the director has made a bold and brilliant move. I feel like punching right through the director's teeth and the great ppl who appreciate it and think by doing that they are the ones that are not stero typed to like only feel good movies.

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    1. I agree with the blogger too, but what has Mayakkam Enna to do with what has been posted in this page? Dhanush was more of a mentally challenged person than a "hero" in that movie, who I am sure no guy will try to emulate.

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  13. Thanks for posting it here. Have been searching incessantly for this article ever since it was published.

    Wonderful post!

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  14. Well, the tamil movies are just portraying the well known Stockholm Syndrome. As the less famous quote goes "You can't make someone love you. You can only stalk them and hope they give in." :D

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  15. A point well made.
    All I can add to this is " Men will be Men" ~ " Our Heroes will remain the SAME too". Hope this trend is just a passing cloud.

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