We have been featuring the best writers from our writers’ community for their committed contribution to FII, making it what it is today. FII would not exist if not for the passionate and loyal feminist writers’ community that we have steadily been building over the last three years. This August, we feature Mythily.
Someone with an interest in cinema, South Asian culture and music, Mythily often juxtaposes her experiences of a multicultural upbringing (having grown up aborad), and college life in India. Some of Mythily’s popular articles are Lootera And The Lockdown Syndrome, 8 Years Of Ustad Hotel — Celebrating Non-Conformist Masculinity In Malayalam Cinema, A Curly Haired Conundrum: Parvathy & Natural Hair In Malayalam Cinema among others.
FII: Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
Mythily: I’m a final year undergraduate student at IIM Indore’s 5 Year Integrated Programme of Management. A Malayalee by origin, I’ve grown up (and currently still live) in Malaysia, a country that’s a beautiful melting pot of native Malay, Chinese and Indian cultural heritage. All 3 of these experiences continue to shape the writer I am today, allowing me to blend my passion for cinema and music, in the forms that kept me connected to my roots, in a medium I’ve always adored. It kept me and my cultural identity intact.
FII: How did you become a part of the FII writer family?
Mythily: I pestered Pragya enough, I suppose! Nah, I submitted my article on Premam, begging to be published. I waited, and genuinely didn’t think the editorial team would think anything of it. But they liked it. And I hit the freaking lottery. I realised my niche was the blending of my home state’s incredible and ever evolving films scene and matching it to the feminist ideals, to be able to comment on the kind of media we agree to consume and glorify.
FII: How and when did you become a feminist? Which issues within feminism are close to your heart?
Mythily: Because I was raised with the notion that there was nothing I couldn’t do. None of my activities were seen through a gendered lens. Yes, I had my ingrained biases and so did my parents (the repercussions of which I dealt with later), but the question that this activity is for boys, this clothing article is too masculine, or this profession is traditionally male/female didn’t really occur in my house. Knowledge was given, books were read everyday, discussions were had on them if I so wanted. Being someone who’s very artistically inclined, it was always important for me to understand why and how a piece of art conveys a certain message, of course, considering its cultural relevance and when it was created. But the nuance of understanding the impact of art has always been on my mind.
FII: What is your favourite piece on this site that you have written, and your favourite piece on this site that you have read? Why did they strike you?
Mythily: I have a super soft corner for the first article I’ve written for FII, my piece on Premam about the Malayali male gaze. It was such a revelation to write about, considering I was so so so in love with the film (and still am). But having the opportunity to look back at it really helped me reshape how I watched cinema since then, not just to coo at the pretty visuals. I learnt to be more vocal with my disapproval. The review of Mahasweta Devi’s Draupadi is my favourite article by another author. It inspired me to begin reading about Subaltern studies, and I’m trying to now find literature on stuff more relevant to my home state of Kerala as well. There’s a beautiful oral storytelling tradition that has more of a pagan worship past, deviating from Vedic norms, which I would love to explore further.
FII: What do you like to do when not writing about gender and social justice?
Mythily: I love to eat, and I’m THAT friend that has a list of every half good restaurant in the city and an opinion about it. Believe me, that list is pretty dope. Besides that, I’m a musician, I’ve been learning Carnatic music since I could toddle and I can play 5 instruments, my focus mainly shifting to the Sarasvati veena (which begun the same time as vocal training did) and the ukulele, which I picked up over a summer vacation. I’m also big history/non fiction nut. History, when told right, is just a woven carpet of stories from different stakeholders. I love viewing it from the more unsaid, unspoken side – the craftsman in the market, or the seamstress in the zenana instead of the Begum. Histories aren’t just of those who could afford to write them down.
FII: What do you like about FII and our work? What more would you like to see from us?
Mythily: Love, love, LOVE how FII makes it so easy for someone to understand what it means to be an intersectional feminist. Feminist media has always been more populated with instances of feminist issues from around the world, but an Indian context is way more nuanced, and needs its own space. This makes it more palatable for people more familiar with the Indian art space to associate feminism as being more of a “homegrown” concept as well, and not some distant fad!
FII thanks Mythily for her timely and valuable contributions. We are incredibly grateful to have her as a part of our writers’ community and appreciate her for her deeply informative writing. You can follow her on Medium and LinkedIn.