“Enough moping, this is a mope-free zone,” former United States President Barack Obama told ‘high-dollar’ Democrats the other day, asking them to pull up their socks and get ready for the 2020 presidential bash. His message found echo in God’s Own Country Kerala, where newly elected Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) president, actor Mohanlal, told actor Dileep, accused in a sexual assault case, to stop moping and start embracing AMMA once again like any good son should.
That set many tongues wagging, some dripping acid against the “old men of Kerala cinema”. It’s nobody’s guess as to at who the “old men of Kerala cinema” barb was thrown at – actors Mohanlal and Mammooty, both of whom are on the wrong side of 55 or maybe 60. Mohanlal replaced Mammooty as AMMA president.
The tongues dripping acid are “fair”; and it is the fair ones on the planet who want to overthrow the ages-old gender-order, which is “women wear the dots, men call the shots.” Dot-busters are no more seen, not even in Barack’s United States, but in an India-changing, dots are being connected and the male is getting neutered, including in Kerala, where hashtags like #Feminichi have taken hold in the wake of AMMA’s offer to reinstate Dileep in the ranks of ‘gentlemen actors’.
A “ladies’’ website says AMMA has left a “filthy taste” in the mouth. Of course, the ladies’ response caters to the new notion of “presumption of guilt” rather than the old one of “presumption of innocence”. The Dileep case is sub-judice and he, like any alleged felon, should get his day in court and “presumption of innocence” till proved otherwise.
But tell that to the ladies and the palm will be in the face. The ladies are mighty angry that not only did AMMA decide to reinstate Dileep, it also performed a series of “skits” poking fun of women in cinema. Their specific target, the ‘Women in Cinema Collective’, whose members include actor Parvathy, who recently won a national award for her role in the film ‘Take-Off’, and who has been at the forefront of the anti-Dileep tirade in Mollywood.
Apparently, showing a “profound lack of culture, imagination and talent”, leading Malayalam superstars, “a range of popular elderly men”, performed a skit that glorified their status as male superstars at an AMMA event, using women actors as “stage props”. The call has now gone to “re-read long interviews in which Rima Kallingal and Parvathy Menon discuss feminism and the industry.”
Does that smack of feminism? There is that, no doubt. AMMA’s male and female children are at loggerhead. But unlike fathers of north India, Kerala’s fathers have, it’s said, never looked at daughters and sons differently. And Kerala’s female-male ratio is higher than 0.99 – 1084 females per 1000 males. The national figure is 0.940.
The sliver of land at India’s bottom holds more daughters per square mile than sons. Call it feminism, some of these daughters are up in arms. But like everywhere, it’s in the ‘woods’ – Hollywood, Bollywood, Tollywood, Mollywood, Lollywood and Kollywood – where voices rise, and are heard. So, in Kerala.
That said, the “elderly superstars of Kerala” still rule the box office. Mohanlal’s 2017 release “Pulimurugan” was the biggest grosser in Malayalam cinema history, and Mammooty-starrers “never flop”. Of course, new and younger stars have risen, a few shining brighter than the rest, one of them being Mammooty’s son Dulquer Salman.
There is also a new breed of filmmakers; bolder, tackling subjects that were once considered taboo. And among the new stars are those with what they call a “modern, progressive outlook”; somebody like a Fahad Fasil, who backs the ‘Women in Cinema Collective’ in as far as Dileep is concerned.
But feminists everywhere are in a minority even if they make a lot of noise. The great unwashed irrespective of gender does not want any part of the feminists’ campaign. The bizarre lengths feminists go to is resented. Like insisting that the first human being on Mars should be a woman. This when, Men are from Mars!
Just this past week, writing in Equal Times investigative journalist Nazaret Castro asked what the world would look like if feminism set the political agenda? Castro also gave the slogan Ni Una Migrante Menos, which translates to ‘Not One Migrant Woman Less’. That makes ‘Migrante’ the ‘feminist’ in the slogan, and ‘Menos’ the ‘less’/lesser person in the ultimatum. If that is not an aphorism of our times, what is? The Women in Cinema Collective will mop the floor with AMMA’s “elderly” sons, yet. (IPA Service)