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Being Tamil is about traditions and culture with a Big C, yes, Tamil Culture. The unique version of being progressive and patriarchal at the same time, bundled together to serve equality only when necessary. So why blame Udanpirappe?!
There is lot of negativity going around about the latest OTT offering, Udanpirappe and I think it’s really unfair that we are singling out this movie. I mean, the over the top action, sentiment, tragedy, anger, love… has mostly defined the bulk of Tamil cinema.
To point a finger and criticise this particular one, is just plain bullying. I mean, how is this brother-sister sentimental overdose more cringe-worthy than the forerunners like Kizhakku Cheemayile or most recently Namma Veetu Pillai.
(Music does help to digest and digress such sexism to an extent in the above mentioned examples, something which Udanpirappe lacks, but that’s beside the point.)
Haters going to hate hate hate, but kudos to the director Era. Saravanan for sticking to the proud tradition of Tamil cinema. Come on, only a true Tamil blooded audience can truly appreciate this offering that you have provided. I mean I thought with Kadaikutty Singam, Namma Veetu Pillai, the true values of Tamil villages, family, caste blindness were all lost but you sir, really proved that for every Pariyerum Perumal there are tens of Karuppan or Kombans awaiting production. The movie is like stringed songs, background music, in the voice of melancholic singers reiterating the bond of brother-sister love. I mean we have evolved from so many village greats like Ejamman, Chinna Gounder, Thevar Magan, Chinna Thambi etc, that this is bound to happen right!
And I should commend the characters, sorry strike that the progressive, ‘woke’ Tamil characters who have donned the various roles. Be it Samuthrakani as the law-abiding teacher, or Sasikumar as the justice seeking vigilante.
Here, I must mention the strong sense of justice of the teacher (Samuthrakani) in his intro scene where he recommends that a male candidate be chosen for the teacher training course, and not the female one with better marks. I mean who can argue with this rationale that a son deserves the seat for teaching his father to write his name and not the daughter who did not do the same? (Nevermind, the other chores, struggles she had to face to pursue education, considering the rural milieu of the film). The other side of the coin, the rich, socially well positioned ‘hero aka god of the village’ (Sasikumar), as the strongman who trashes goons sent to kill him for hurting a dog, in the establishing scene in the movie.
While it’s hard to beat such characters Mathangi (Jothika) plays the role of the teacher’s wife and the strongman’s sister effortlessly. From the moment she emerges as the goddess from the pond, she remains the moral compass of Tamil feminist values.
Yes, the feminist who decries, puberty rituals, thali sentiment but still remains muted to privilege when it comes to her family. All are woke, with reference to caste and choice when it comes to everyone in the village, but not for the family, because they don’t need it (they are rich, socially well positioned! All this equality nonsense is for the lesser mortals you know, the darker skinned individuals who keep bowing down or praying to the main families).
All the characters have donned beautiful roles, set in aesthetically pleasing backgrounds and in costumes that mark their clout within the village. Each and every one is etched with the proud patriarchal values of Tamil society.
‘Women are gold’– that famous Tamil tagline is the crux of the film. To be protected, fiercely protected, honoured, cared, and what not? I mean everything short of giving a woman autonomy or authority to lead her life, and that too because they are naive to the real world of men.
I mean what need is there for them to know the real world anyway? The women whose story evolves are all from land owning, dominant caste families, what need is there for them to know the world?
So coming to another big aspect is the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’, policy of Tamil films with regard to sexual assault. The logic is that the harasser / rapist is dead so what need is there to confront what happened, or deal with trauma?
As long as all plays well (Which it does to the one survivor who is the main character’s daughter) why ruffle any feathers? (The other victims having to face years of trauma, is irrelevant, they do not have enough social capital to be bothered with, right!) One has to really appreciate the director for making such a simplistic argument (in this day and age).
Being Tamil is about traditions and culture with a Big C, yes, Tamil Culture. The unique version of being progressive and patriarchal at the same time, bundled together to serve equality only when necessary.
So blaming this film for poor acting and lack of plot is irrelevant, as the movie is simply an extension of the idealised, stratified rural typecast that Tamil cinema has always offered. We are after all the audiences who grew up watching all these romanticised, rustic, but completely unreal movies to begin with, right?!
Note: The writer has a strong belief in her writing skills and is hence confident that her snarky cynicism comes through clearly in this write-up. In case she is sadly mistaken about her writing prowess, she would like to state explicitly that this post is meant to be sarcastic, and you may go watch Udanpirappe at your own risk.
Am a feminist who is wished for a room but got stuck in a jar. Still, I go on clueless but hopeful and I keep writing. Taking it one step at a time! read more...
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