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Not many Indian movies deal with women and their need for self-actualisation. Uyare is a movie that deals with a sensitive topic in a beautiful manner.
While Uyare is a compelling survival drama. It also happens to be one of the few Indian movies that talks about a woman’s self-actualisation needs.
Most Indian movies reduce woman’s idea of a fairy tale to a man. The testimony of this fact is the smashing success of movies like DDLJ or Dil Toh Pagal Hai, where the only dreams the lead women seem to nurture are of a dream lover.
And in movies where women are career or ideal oriented, they are shown to be devoid of the need for romance, such as Hitchki, Mardani or the recent Tamil movie, Ratsachi. There are also movies, where women’s achievements are used as prop for the leading men to accomplish their dreams. This has happened in movies like Chak de, Dangal or, the recent Mission Mangal.
Uyare doesn’t fall into any of these slots. The heroine Pallavi Ravindran, played by Parvathi Menon, very early in life knows the career she wants to take up and the person she wants to marry. She is passionate about becoming a pilot. And equally convinced about not giving up on Govind, her long-time boyfriend. This, despite, his possessiveness and controlling behaviour, she is faithful to the fact that Govind stood by her in the time of need.
Little does she imagine that Govind’s toxic masculinity could wipe away all her dreams in seconds. Unable to take his tantrums, she returns their engagement ring, that’s when he throws acid on her face. And that happens the very next day after she qualifies to be a pilot. Before Pallavi manages to fly even a single flight.
Pallavi’s friend asks the doctor about her condition and chances of recovery. That’s when the doctor says, that her face won’t be the same again and since he doesn’t know her well enough, he is unable to predict her emotional recovery.
As the audience, we don’t know it either. Her zest for life and her commitment to her passion is no indication of resilience or courage to survive a future drained of all dreams. Pallavi would have known it too. It isn’t just physical scarring she suffers, but emotional scarring too, that of unspeakable cruelty from someone she once loved.
Her larger devastation comes from the fact that she can’t be a pilot anymore because of the damage to her vision. It is heart breaking to see her attempting to go for company secretary classes, and rushing out of the class on realisation of the compromise that she has been forced to make.
The movie chronicles her journey through the tragedy, heart breaks, struggles and blossoming into a stronger and more spirited person.
When things do turn around for her, they don’t happen in the traditional sense. She doesn’t get an indefinite cinematic fairy tale, not love, not treatment to her visual impairment. What she does get is a chance to attain self-actualisation for a day. And that is sufficient for her happy ending, for no one can take away that memory from her and the hopes and dreams that stem from that memory.
The most remarkable thing about Uyare is that it makes so many points by saying so little. The script doesn’t take aid of verbosity or melodrama to cue the emotions of audience. It does it through effective storytelling and brilliant acting of its lead actor.
In one scene where the judge allows Pallavi a decision between pursuing the case against Govind or marrying her attacker, Pallavi’s only response is a shocked, “What do you mean?”
Her incredulous tone and expression is sufficient to not just convey her position but also what she thinks of the offer. In yet another scene, Govind’s father approaches her to pardon Govind as his future is getting affected. Her response is to simply unveil herself and stare at him for a few seconds. He gets his answer and leaves quietly.
Uyare can be a difficult watch, it can be disturbing to come in terms with stark nature of human cruelty and apathy. In one scene, Pallavi, feeling encouraged after interacting with other acid attack survivors, unveils herself in a flight and takes a selfie. It is her first step towards self-acceptance after the tragedy. However her positive mood is destroyed within a matter of seconds. A co-passenger complains to the flight attendant about her face scaring her child.
It is also crushing to see Govind approaching her to take back the case ,as it is standing in the way of his career, with least remorse about what he did to hers.
However, the movie restores our faith in humanity through other characters. While the movie warns about the toxic signs women should look for in men they are dating, it also gives us two endearing male characters.
Pallavi’s father (played by Siddique) does everything in his capacity to help his daughter achieve her passion and stands by her like a rock when her life is torn apart.
Tovino Thomas as Vishal, a millionaire with heart of gold not just gives her a break, but develops an unlikely friendship with her. Though he is the giver in the technical sense, it’s a friendship of equals, he takes from her some important life lessons.
The movie also showcases female friendship and gives it the necessary merit. Depiction of sorority among women is so rare in Indian cinema, that I can’t help applauding whenever I spot it.
Uyare is available on Netflix
Picture credits: YouTube
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Gnanapriya is a Bangalore based Banker, a passionate feminist with a keen interest in philosophy,
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