Through multiple columns and op-eds we have seen how the frontline media especially Indian cinema has disguised patriarchy in the form of entertainment. Malayalam cinema in particular has been one among the many frontrunners in making these ‘made for man’ movies. But with silver linings lately, Malayalam cinema is eyeing for a change with the advent of Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) and filmmakers like Shyam Pushkaran calling out the patriarchy in Malayalam cinema. Although late, the progress is coming from this southern state of India. Love Action Drama is a desperate attempt by debutant writer director Dhyan Sreenivasan to put an obstacle to this very progress. The Nivin Pauly-Nayanthara starrer is a two and a half hour long redundant attempt to normalise things that cannot be justified in any civilised society.
The movie fails in content at multiple fronts, with at times the plot even venturing into nauseating justifications of the rogue male lead. And yes, there are many other movies on the same note but this is in 2019 and that makes a huge difference.
Love Action Drama, 2019
Cast: Nivin Pauly and Nayanthara
Director: Dhyan Sreenivasan
Dinesh, played by Nivin Pauly portrays a slacker cum drunkard rich man whose only motive is to drink and go in search of love (read: stalking and toxic behaviour). The movie begins at the wedding of Dinesh’s cousin, Swati, who is portrayed a ‘theppukaari’ (a Malayalam word predominantly used in cinema to shame women who fall out of love with their male partners, of course there is no such shaming for men!) by Dinesh & co. for making a choice. Not just that he goes one step further to take revenge on her for doing it to him under the disguise of the comic act by Sagar, played by actor turned debutant producer of the film Aju Varghese.
The female lead, Sobha, played by Nayanthara is the most ironical of them all. Introduced in to the scene as a staunch feminist who advises her friends on maintaining feminism in their family lives, her character sketch is a complete let down. Beginning with Sagar addressing being a feminist as some kind of disease, the character of Sobha is no where around feminism and has been probably made to fit the narrative of the patriarchs in Malayalam cinema who have conveniently took an accused friendly stance in a rape attack against one of their colleagues. Dinesh who follows Sobha to Chennai finds friendship which later evolves into an up and down toxic relationship.
Beginning with Sagar addressing being a feminist as some kind of disease, the character of Sobha is no where around feminism and has been probably made to fit the narrative of the patriarchs in Malayalam cinema who have conveniently took an accused friendly stance in a rape attack against one of their colleagues.
It just takes a random guy on the street who asks Dinesh, “Is he with you now?” to take the relationship in a downward spiral. The insecure male lead takes the route of stalking her and keeping a watch on whom she meets, all this with a song in the background to make it look okay or even as a lame joke. Although stalking is nothing new in Indian cinema but as I told you this is 2019, it’s time we grow up. A veiled attempt to upvote the medieval mindset that a woman’s past matters—it is out of this, that the idea of ‘theppukaari’ and slut shaming stem. And rather than calling him out, Sobha’s reaction was to get married to this guy. Like, seriously?
Not just that, another guy in a sinister plot (as portrayed with a weird serial killer like background score) to malign their marriage showcases his past with Sobha in photos. Once again here we go with Dinesh who pushes Sobha into all sorts of toxicity to which she can only cry. At times, he resorts to trash talking, slut shaming and stereotyping against women as a whole and Sobha in particular. Unwillingly, she snaps the relationship and at the end with all the justifications of the lead as being an innocent, insecure and possessive gentleman and all the turn of events resulting from it as being inadvertent! No Sobha not again! With some more tears and all these more than enough reasons for his self-proclaimed innocent deeds, Sobha once again accepts his proposal.
Love Action Drama is seemingly a direct attack on feminism, aligning with narrative that feminists are hypocrites and take everything lying.
This is messed up at multiple levels! The patriarchy did not bare it all as always is done under the guise of romantic songs, comical acts and scores. Love Action Drama is seemingly a direct attack on feminism, aligning with narrative that feminists are hypocrites and take everything lying. Far more the female lead is shown as some kind of a downtrodden far lesser soul who has to make the life of the male lead meaningful. Sobha even concedes that women need to be protected by men and you call this character a feminist!? This writer needs some serious schooling on what it is to be a feminist and what it means to be in a toxic relationship.
Bringing this character of Dinesh under the lens, it can be found that there is not much difference between the character played by Asif Ali (Govind Balakrishnan) in the movie Uyare, a Parvathy Thiruvothu (Pallavi) starrer. While Govind attacks Pallavi with acid, Dinesh pushes Sobha into a messed up toxic relationship. Uyare tells us how Pallavi takes Govind to court and her realisation of her potential, that she deserves much better shows a woman who lives by her choice, convictions and will not let someone else toy with her life.
Love Action Drama on the other hand, portrays a woman as a feminist, who does not even realise the level of toxicity her boyfriend is building upon her and finds it okay to take any trauma forced on her lying down under the garb of ‘too much love’. Normalising the narrative that women are lesser humans has been the motto of many movies, but this definitely has got to be one of the most dreaded one!
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