Thursday, October 27, 2005

Meera Jasmine's not-to-be-missed film

Audience: Malayalam and Tamil movie-goers, Indian movie-goers, Anyone who cares for and respects a girl/woman's life

I began writing about Meera Jasmine's debut movie in Tamil, "Run" a few posts ago when I posted an article on Sada. Unfortunately I was unable to watch the entire film.

But here's a Meera Jasmine film that must definitely go on your movie-list. On Sunday the 16'th of this month, "Paatam Onnu Oru Vilaapam" was aired on TV (I think it was on Surya TV). It was already telecast earlier on another Malayalam channel. The performance in this film fetched Meera this year's National award for best actress (her first) and I can clearly see why. This movie is a must see. It is about customs still prevalent in some Muslim societies in Kerala and how young girls become helpless victims of this system and pay a huge price, some with their lives too. Even abject poverty pales to other crimes that are perpetrated on young women and girls such as dowry, honor killing (not in this movie) and divorce. Divorce seems to be a convenience being exercised on frivolous grounds or for the personal comforts of the husband. Polygamy might have prevented or checked prostitution and rescued widowed women and women in dire straits in the past but does that mean a 50+ yr old man already married to 3 or 4 women, can still take home a teen bride.

In societies such as these it looks as though girls and women are used merely as objects of desire and pleasure and literally dumped after use. How sad and stupid that the men in these communities hardly realise the beauty and strength of a woman. Isn't the noble task of the creation of the entire human race in a woman's hands? Bearing a child is a sacrifice and not just an obligation. Man can always argue that he is also responsible for procreation. But although he can claim to be physically stronger he needs to constantly be reminded that it is the woman who goes through child birth. I am not denigrating or condemning all men but films as these do make you think in many different ways.

Meera moves us playing the character of the innocent, young and happy Muslim girl whose joy was in going to school, being with her friends and teachers and excelling in her studies. Her child like charm was a perfect fit for the role of the teen she portrayed. However her happy days are cut short when she is married to be a second wife of a man. Robbed of all of the joys of her young life the harsh reality sets in and her nightmares begin. From then on till the end it is a story and a performance to be watched; the life and agony of the young teen-wife poignantly performed by Meera.

The movie also touches on a topic that is very relevant to a society such as ours and yet hardly debated or depicted - marital rape. For these girls who have been victims of this crime, even the joy of the physical pleasures is lost and is replaced by constant fear, sleeplessness from nightmares and subsequently a total withdrawal from any kind of normal sexual activity. In countries such as the USA and Canada there is a lot of focus on a woman's psychological health. Unfortunately in these communities people are ignorant of it leave alone think about it. Women simply have to live with their psychological problems, fight them, find a way out for themselves or leave it to providence or nature to help them.

It's a pity that our secular government can do nothing about these crimes. Why are the lives of young girls and women being controlled by false believers of a religion and people who have no idea or concern about a woman's mental and physical well being.

Throughout the film our attention is drawn to an ostracized group of young muslim women. As someone put it, these girls are better off living alone with their fatherless children, shunned by their societies than to live with ignoramuses preaching and practising falsehood in the name of the Koran and Islam.

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