Tamil movies are harmless, they said. It’s purely entertainment, they said.
We beg to differ.
While it may be entertaining to watch a ‘hero’ (although they are called lead actors in the rest of the world) save the day by flying across the room à la Superman to punch the baddie in the face, Tamil movies are anything but innocuous. In fact, Tamil films have been deceiving audiences with their half truths and whole lies since the early 90s.
We have compiled 8 fibs that Tamil movies have been telling us for the past 30 years – or more!
- Kaadhal is the sole purpose of one’s life
The aim of every young person’s life is to find that one true love. And then fight whatever forces that come in the way of this punithamana kaadhal to get married. And after which the couple lives happily ever after. Vannakam. Moral of the story: You don’t need to study, or nor have a fulfilling career. Heck, you don’t even have to have a job! Nothing in this world is more important than your kaadhal.
While more and more Tamil films are incorporating social issues into their post interval half, the first half of the movie seems to always revolve around how the hero falls for the heroine and makes her fall for him. This is worrying because there is so much more to life than finding love. Instead of honing us as multifaceted beings who derive joy from so many things, Tamil movies choose to only focus on love which is severely untrue.
2. One-sided love at first sight is legit
Boy sees a beautiful (read: fair) girl. The young man is blown away by her ethereal beauty and immediately falls in love. This blueprint has been used in so many movies, it makes us ponder if the Tamil audience is really that dense. Kaadhal at first sight, usually afflicting the male lead, which then blooms into true love that conquers all.
A study by Zsok, Haucke, De Wit & Barelds of the University of Groningen, Netherlands, lays it bare. “Love at first sight is not so much ‘love’ or ‘passion’. Instead, it’s a strong pull or attraction that makes someone particularly open to the possibilities of a relationship ”
In fact, Tamil films do not address the qualities that are known to reflect love, such as intimacy, commitment and passion. How would you know any of that in the first few moments of attraction and term it love?
3. Female beauty = milky white skin + heavy makeup + hair blowing in the wind
Tamil films are to be blamed for the very narrow view of female beauty that pervades our society. This formula has been fortified into the minds of Tamil movie goers, whether we like it or not. Actresses who own their dark skin like Lakshmi Menon and Amala Paul are made to appear lighter on screen. Not only does this create an unrealistic beauty standard for the masses, but it also makes ethnic Tamil women unable to relate to any of the female characters they see on screen.
To rub salt in the already excruciating wound, the filmmakers choose to cast North Indian actresses like Tamannah and then give their characters names like Koperunthevi and Amuthavalli.
Those of us who choose to take these FAKE beauty standards critically, good on you. To the rest, please stop imposing these archaic rules onto ourselves and our daughters. Ladies, you are beautiful as you are.
4. Consent is an illusion
It’s no secret that mainstream (or mass) Tamil films are the ubiquitous agents that glorify the culture of objectifying, harassing and stalking women. And if all of that fails, it is okay to impersonate someone else to win your beau’s heart. Who cares that she has explicitly said no? In very few Tamil movies is it spelled out clearly that NO MEANS NO.
This boils down to a more serious problem, that women are constantly objectified in the films. The danger in this line of thinking is that because women are objectified so, her resistance is of no value.
In Gulaebhagavali, Prabudeva’s character keeps making attempts to touch and hug Hansika’s character in spite of her numerous asks for him to back off. She eventually falls in love with him. Those who live by these movies misinterpret nuances like these to mean that persistence always pays off, even if a woman says no. If that isn’t a load of lies, it’s hard to say what is.
5. Sex is bad for women, good for men
Another age old adage that Tamil films perpetuate is that PREMARITAL SEX IS BAD if you are a woman. You must be chaste, an untouched flower to be worthy of anything. And yes, the honour, dignity and self worth of a woman lies in her vagina. If you are a man however, it is okay to have a few premarital sexual liaisons, after all you ARE a man.
A scene in Iraivi where Vijay Sethupathi’s character and his father visit Pooja Devariya’s character to ask for her hand in marriage quells all the myths associated with this lie. She politely declines the offer, saying that they were merely friends with benefits. Vijay Sethupathi’s father then asks why she spoiled his innocent son with her wayward ways. She laughs her head of at this question, probably reminiscing their amourous times in bed.
Tamil films have championed negative sex messaging from its inception, and while we are happy to see movies like Taramani and Iraivi which attempt to annihilate these warped messages, it would be nice to see more women on screen in command of their sexuality and unapologetic about it.
6. Everyone LOVES men who fight like there’s no tomorrow
Oh yes, nothing makes us happier than a hero who can beat up a bunch of crooks while uttering the dialogue “Singam single-a thaan varum,”
We also melt at the sight of the signature flying kicks with the invisible harnesses replete with that enraged facial expression and mandatory fist in the air. And who can resist that heel swoosh against the sand as the fight is about to begin!
7. Death is the solution to everything
Someone found out a woman had premarital sex? Suicide. A couple who cannot get their families to agree to their marriage? Suicide. A wife who has cheated on her husband? Murder. A woman is seen naked in public? Suicide. A daughter who runs away from home to be with her lover? Murder.
Death seems to be the favourite solution to most embarrassing situations and setbacks the characters in Tamil films face. Funnily enough, most situations that warrant death are those involving a woman’s honour. It is a shame that mental health issues are not taken more seriously in Tamil films.
If you are feeling depressed or suicidal please contact the Befrienders’ 24 hour helpline at 03 – 7956 8145. There is so much more to life than what people think of you.
8. It is OK to make body shaming remarks
It would be hard to come across a Tamil film that didn’t have one body shaming line. Actors like Harathi, Vidyulekka and Yogi Babu are the common targets of these remarks, which are supposedly done in good humour, because these actors are comedians. Lead actresses are not immune to body shaming either, Aishwarya Rai being the most notable of the many who have been ridiculed for her weight gain. However, when lead actors are body shamed, all hell breaks loose. Remember when Surya was made fun of by two TV anchors for his height? Let’s not even get started on the body shaming surrounding skin colour.
It is very sad to note that most of these untruths center around women. Tamil films seem to immortalize the idea of a perfect Tamil girl with these fibs. What’s worse is that the hardcore Tamil audience watch these misrepresentations of life on the big screen, and assume that it is okay to talk and behave the way the actors do.
We hope the second half of 2018 brings about some positive changes in Tamil films, with more real depictions instead of these reel lies.
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