Tamil movie audiences have long been assaulted by actresses who are anything but Tamil. They look nothing like us and most of them don’t represent the average Tamil ponnu.
With that in mind, here are 7 changes that we’d like to see in the way Tamil movies portray heroines:
Beautiful brown babes
The white skin fetish has long plagued the Tamil movie industry. Directors have gone the extra mile by even importing a Caucasian actress to play a South Indian village girl, only to have the audience relish her milky complexion.
There is no dearth of dark skinned actresses who can actually act. Take Aishwarya Rajesh, for instance. She kicked some serious butt with her memorable performance in Kaaka Muttai. But we haven’t seen much of her since. We’d like to see more dark skinned actresses, simply because we can relate to them. It’s a nice feeling to watch a movie on the big screen and say, hey, that’s someone who looks like me!
2. Tamil speaking actresses
Don’t get us wrong, we are all for giving women from other parts of India a chance to be a part of our booming Tamil movie industry. However, it would be nice of filmmakers not to insult our intelligence by casting someone like Hansika Motwani who can barely keep up with the Tamil dialogue, what more speak two words in the language.
Based on our research, it seems that Tamil girls would rather not be heroines as most of them are very traditional. But seriously, out of the 70 million people in Tamil Nadu, there isn’t one girl who wants to act? It’s not that we want Tamizhachis, we just want actresses who can at least speak Tamil!
We hope to see more actresses like Amala Paul, Trisha and Sneha. Can you imagine the backlash if a hero of a mass movie was a North Indian or a non-Tamil speaker?
3. Heroines who can actually act
It is interesting to note that only a handful of actresses (and actors) gracing the Tamil cinema screens can actually act. Again, the audience is expected to be distracted by the actress’ beauty and ignore the complete lack of acting skills. We wonder how the likes of Sri Divya and Kajal Agarwal are thriving in this industry when they are pathetic actors. We adore Priyamani, and enjoyed her performance in Paruthiveeran. If only there were a few more actresses just like her!
4. Size diversity – height too!
Beauty is diverse! We cannot drive this point enough. Who came up with the rule that only slender actresses can be heroines? Not only does this set an unrealistic expectation of beauty among young girls, this also may lead to excessive dieting and orthorexia. There shouldn’t be a minimum height requirement nor a weight requirement to be an actress. The only requirement would be for the person to act. Body positive actresses like Vidyullekha Raman deserve a chance to be the heroine and not just the butt of jokes.
5. Enough of silly, cute expressions. PLEASE.
Some actresses in the industry have built a career merely on their cute, childish expressions. The Tamil audience seems to find this attribute endearing. For example, Hasini in Santosh Subramaniam and Kavya in Remo. Could we do away with that, please? Face the facts, guys. No sane woman would make expressions like that in real life. Let’s portray women as the intelligent, confident, and classy beings that they are!
6. Not always showing skin. Yes, that’s okay.
This writer was admonished a few days ago for draping her saree in a manner that showed too much of her midriff. The same person who admonished me seems totally okay with actresses showing so much skin on the silver screen. Why? Because they’re actresses, that’s expected of them. But shouldn’t the movies mirror what goes on in real life? No college girl in Tamil Nadu shows up in class dressed in a crop top and mini skirt. Let’s bring reality to the big screens, shall we?
7. Empowered, independent, strong characters
While women in Tamil movies have been portrayed as successful police officers, doctors, entrepreneurs and even athletes, it’s sad to note that not much emphasis is given to them excelling at their professions. Instead, the focus is always on kaadhal and how the hero makes her fall in love with him. Of course there are the handful of movies that depict women carrying out their duties exceedingly well, and we’d really like to see that replicated more in Tamil movies.
We echo Jyothika in asking filmmakers to give female characters some dignity in their movies. “Look at your mother, wife, sister or girlfriend and give realistic roles to women like the people living around you. You’re socially responsible to what is happening to women all over India. Cinema has a big impact on today’s youth. Please offer intelligent characters to women,”:)