When I was in school my mother used to subscribe to a women’s magazine named Savvy. Don’t know if its still around since many magazines I used to subscribe to have recently gone out of publication. But anyway, Savvy. This was a magazine that had a cover story of one particular woman every month. As children we always had this opinion that to make it to the cover of Savvy a woman had to defy family rules or walk out of her marriage or go against the society or fight the patriarchal system. Basically speaking, she had to be someone who created a tornado in the family or society and herself emerged victorious. Kudos to those women!
It has been over three decades since then and we have come a long way but a nagging voice keeps asking me, “Have times changed? Are women better off? Or for that matter have men changed? Three decades later can we say that the condition of a woman in a family has changed? Does a woman who is a daughter, mother, wife, daughter-in-law feel respected in her family?”
Women empowerment is a ‘wonderful’ topic for discussion and many people are working towards it also. The cinemas are also touching upon women centric topics and creating ‘brave’ scripts. Two recent films have been in the same direction – Panga and Thappad. Both films revolve around women protagonists. While I have seen the former I do not intend to see the latter. No hard feeling towards it but I read the review this morning and the reviewer was all praises for it.
So why would I not watch it if it is such a great film? It has a host of talented artists who have collectively given us a movie that is worth watching. Three and a half stars is a good rating where many struggle to get even half a star. It is a bold movie and talks about an inherent truth prevailing in our society since time knows when. While Panga is on a lighter note women will find Thappad to be a brave film and many may also identify with it. Men, and I don’t say all, may rubbish it. After all it is about them too. Though the story centres around a wife it also talks about the nature and attitude of men. If a woman has had to suffer a slap from a husband it is because of the very fabric of society that has been woven in a manner that gives men the right to do so.
Thappad deals with a physical slap which can be seen, heard and felt. It resonates hard. What cannot be witnessed is the mental slap mete out to many women time and again. The kind of mark it leaves on the souls of women is not seen and yet it gradually breaks a part of her every time she is hit. And every time she has to gather the pieces of her broken spirit and stand up again to face the world – with a smile on her face. No, men do not like to see their wives sad and sullen. If she is sad she spoils the atmosphere of the house and how can a man be motivated to work for the family if he does not have a cheerful wife to go back home to.
It is the ‘duty’ of the wife to understand that a man works from morning to night to take care of the family. So what if he loses his temper and shouts at his wife once in a while, he does love her so much. Stress at work can make him irritated and agitated and he can vent it out on his ‘loving and understanding wife.’ True, we all need that comfort zone where we can vent out our feelings.
Does Thappad intend to bring about an awakening in the society? I doubt. The makers had a story to tell, a point to make and an audience to entertain. True, the entertainment is not the fun kind but viewers will watch it to rave about the bold script, the powerful acting, and excellent execution of a ‘minor’ issue plaguing the society. The film will live its life in theatres and actors will get applauded for their award winning performances. Isn’t the award that matters in the end?
Tragedies always make good stories and our storytellers know that very well.