Posted by The Unwrittens
Lakshmi was a Tamil short film directed by Sarjun KM that came out a few weeks ago. Unusual for a short film, it has generated a lot of debate. Lakshmi is a short film about a woman having sex outside of marriage.
If the film had been kept that short, it would have been a good movie, even feminist. But it is not. The movie’s central character Lakshmi is caught in a monotonous, repetitive relationship with both her husband and her job at a printing press. It is the same grind day in and day out. Even sex is shown as grind with the husband rolling on and off Lakshmi.
A radical departure from this otherwise monochromatic portrayal of a middle-class woman trapped in a loveless marriage is when we see a smile on Lakshmi’s face as her husband lays on top of her. She is able to disassociate herself from everything and take pleasure in the sexual act. Only if that smile had contorted into a full-blown orgasm!
There was something magical about that smile. As a woman’s fate would have it, Lakshmi is never completely satisfied as her husband rolls off before she can have her orgasm. But the smile of pleasure on her face was singularly liberating and made a stronger statement than the entire film.
Lakshmi, with her husband and son, lives in a small house where eating, watching TV, having sex while the son is sleeping, all happen in just one room. It is difficult not to feel sorry for Lakshmi as she increasingly worries that her short-lived moans – before the husband rolls off – would wake her son up. Here, the many aspects that come between a woman and her pleasure were poignantly captured in black and white.
Then colour enters her space and time in the form of a young man. On her way to work, Lakshmi repeatedly locks eyes with this young man, before a bus strike brings them together. The man is a free-spirited, overfamiliar sculptor/painter who tells her that she is interesting because she works and manages the house, that he cooks, and spouts a few lines from Bharathiyar’s poems. In other words, the quintessential rescuer of oppressed women everywhere.
To cut it short, Lakshmi has sex with him and a lot of people were offended after watching the movie. I was offended too. Because a husband traps, a Tamil male poet is cited, a random man rescues.
Why does a woman’s transgression need to be coloured by a drunken stupor or a cheating husband?
Where are the female poets? Where is a woman’s own volition? Where is that woman who can speak for herself? Why is Lakshmi not the agency behind her own emancipation? Why does a woman’s transgression need to be coloured by a drunken stupor or a cheating husband? What really will happen if a woman simply cheats and does not repent?
Lakshmi goes back home the next day and her life immediately shift to black and white again. The afterglow of sex does not envelope Lakshmi. Even if it is a one-night stand, or maybe especially because it is a one-night stand, why was she not even given so much as the following morning to float in glorious exploding colours of passion, intensity, accomplishment, satisfaction and self-love?
But the saddest and most unnecessary part of the movie is an apology thrown in, where the husband gets a call from another woman – an apology to excuse Lakshmi for her later sexual enterprise. It was disheartening to know that Lakshmi’s choice to have sex was not her own, but just deprivation of sex by her husband and the call that he gets from an unknown woman, which ‘pushes’ her to have sex.
Even this excuse for Lakshmi to look for sex outside of her marriage has garnered a lot of negative attention. I can only imagine what would have happened if she had sought this comfort by herself without a cheating husband. The story leaves us like Lakshmi, wanting more.
The author is a writer in her head who disowned both her Engineering degree and her corporate work experience. Let honesty through words prevail. She can be followed on Facebook.
Featured Image Credit: Covai Post