I watched three movies this weekend – Mrityudand, Nothing But the Truth, and Patiala House. All of them belonged to completely different genres, and were good movies. But there was something I found similar in all of them. I don’t know if it has to do something with my mind, but I noticed these things.
Mrityudand is an old Indian Hindi movie (1997) set in a rural village in Bihar. It brings to light gender bias and corruption in India. Women are treated as weak, imbecile sex objects. And they are shown to be submissive to their husbands, in-laws and even the village goons. They bear all the pain and agony quietly. If a woman tries to raise her voice, she is humiliated, beaten up and murdered in extreme cases – to set an example to the other women. Even a reasonable man who respects and loves his wife starts to treat her like this to prove his masculinity. In the movie, one bold woman raises a voice and tries to change the norms of the village, and she is successful. But then that is because it is a movie.
Nothing But the Truth is a recent American movie (2008) set in Washington D.C. A political columnist in D.C. publishes a story in which she reveals the identity of a covert CIA agent and implicates the US president. The reporter does not reveal her source and is imprisoned for the same. Days turn into weeks and then months. Her husband blames for sacrificing her family life for her career and her 3 year old son gets alienated. Yet, she stands by her principle, even when she’s almost beaten to death. I was impressed by a statement she makes – “A man leaves his family to go to jail to protect a principle, and they name a holiday after him. A man leaves his children to go fight in a war, and they erect a monument to him. A woman does the same thing, and she’s a monster.” Why are women expected to give priority to family life instead of their careers? Why does a woman constantly have to prove that she’s a good daughter/wife/mother? Why aren’t the same things expected from a man?
Patiala House is a recent Indian Hindi movie (2011) set in a suburban district of London, England. It shows an immigrant Indian family settled in London, where the father rules everyone’s life – wife, siblings, children and nieces and nephews. He immigrated and established the family here and hates white people due to the racism he faced in the early years. He forces the entire family to work in immigrant establishments and maintain distance from white people and their culture. He is a chauvinistic and egoistic male. His wife is again week, submissive and doesn’t raise a voice even when the dreams of her son are sacrificed and his life is ruined. In the end, when she finally defends her son’s dream, she makes a statement – “17 years ago, she kept quiet because she considered herself only as a wife. But today she realizes that she is a mother as well as a wife and wants her son to live his dream.” Does being a wife mean that you have to be submissive – why couldn’t she be a wife and tell her husband that he is wrong? Does being the ‘husband’ give a man the right to be a tyrant in the family and rule everyone’s life?
Why do we have such deep-rooted gender bias in our society…?? Why do we have the patriarchal system..? I don’t know why I specifically notice these things but I do. I notice these things in everyday life, in the married couples I come across, in my friends who are thinking of getting married. And unfortunately, its driving me away from relationships and marriage. I don’t know if I am becoming a feminist but this is how I feel!