By me. Published on June 16, 2017, The Hindu Thread.
Much of film criticism about roles written for women in Tamil films revolves around the weakness of their characters and their purpose in the narrative. While this is warranted in most cases, it is unfair to the few strong characters who are meted out greater injustice. Automatically dismissing heroines in Tamil cinema as token adornment is to be blind to the rise of a new crop of brave women who have a crusade of their own.
In this essay, I write about Malarvizhi of Bairavaa (2017), Kadambari of Naanum Rowdy Thaan (2015), Leela of Acham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada (2016) and other female protagonists and their crusades.
By me. Published on March 29, 2017, The Hindu Thread.
When I pitched this essay about female antagonists, my editor replied with, “Great, lead with the unrepentant Neelambari!” Eighteen years on, Neelambari of Padayappa (1999) appears to be the most remembered ‘villi’ (colloquial for villainess) in Tamil cinema. With good reason. Neelambari is classic Tamil film villi — a stock character and a shrew — angry, rich, ‘modern’ (typically meaning westernised), impulsive, single/separated, hen-pecking, having an unreasonable hatred for a man or men in general.
And then something changed. Rudra of Kodi, Vasundhara of Adhe Kangal and Rajalakshmi of Achamindri came along and broke the mould. I write about a film’s central conflict not revolving around the gender of the antagonist, but her ambition, for the Hindu Thread here.
By me. Published on February 28, 2017, The Ladies Finger
This line of thought — an actor’s credentials depending on his ability to play a woman — is a Tamil film staple, a residue of Tamil cinema’s history in stage-drama. Since then, even the most riotous of heroes have worn female clothing and acted as women. What role does this play in their careers?
More pertinently, what role does it play in our understanding of gender and sexuality? I write for The Ladies Finger here.
PopMatters, October 26, 2016.
Kumudhan Maderya begins this piece in his inimitable style — big words, confusing concepts, opaque theory. If you’ve the energy to plough through it, he makes for a fascinating and compelling case for Mouna Raagam as a Hindu nationalist fantasy.
Told from Divya’s point of view, Mouna Raagam asks and answers a question straight out of ‘chick lit’: ‘Why do women love bad boys and dump nice guys?’
You can read it here.
By me. Published in October 2016, The Hindu Thread
There will come a day when it would no more be shameful to admit that one enjoys a mega-serial (like we can now be unapologetic fans of popular cinema). Following that will come a day when television will create more meaningful, progressive content.
Read the story here.
By me. Published in September 2016, Firstpost
Click Art Museum in Chennai needs visitors to ‘complete’ paintings.
Read the article here.
By me. Published in August 2016, The Hindu Thread.
In the name of showcasing talented children, Tamil television programming has young actors put on adult roles under the guise of cuteness, blurring the line between precocious and inappropriate.
Read the story here.