The sensational Chekka Chevantha Vaanam; has it done justice to the women roles?
Through his several remarkable movies, Mani Ratnam has always managed to portray different characteristics of real women in his movies. While some are wrapped in innocence and surrenderance, to our delight, we also see some that are free of patriarchy and enjoy a considerable degree of autonomy.
The revolutionary director’s Chekka chevantha vaanam has been the talk of the cine world in recent times for the power struggle that goes beyond blood consideration. While the focus revolves around the brothers majorly and men in general, have the women been hidden in the shadows of the men? Despite the fact that the movie has irked many through its deep rooted patriarchal portrayal of women, there is more to them than just being used as props. Let us look at scenes which have depicted how these silently powerful women have not only given more supremacy to their other halves, but have also given the audience a true sense of what women stand for.
- Dayana Errapa as Chayya, played Simbu’s (Ethi) girlfriend and wife in the movie for a very brief time. Though she did not have a very significant role in the story, her character was demeaned in simply a sentence by Ethi when he asks her over a call if she has run away with all his money while he is away. Chayya being a free-spirited girl, replies saying if that was the case, she would have run away with his father instead. Despite Ethi’s low emotional quotient towards anyone, which he is open about, Chayya covers up her need for love and marries him simply for the love that she possess for him.
- Jayasudha as Lakshmi was Prakash Raj’s (Senapathi) devoted and supportive wife. Her support and fondness towards her husband was beautifully shown in a simple manner where when asked what she prayed for, she points out to all the sins that she is aware of that Prakash Raj has made and seeks God for forgiveness on his behalf.
- One of my favourites has to be Aishwarya Rajesh’s (Renu) role as Arun Vijay’s (Thyagu) wife. This Sri-Lankan Tamil woman has shown to be a perfect blend of both, free of patriarchy as well as considerate and benevolent to her husband’s ego and greed for power. Her first appearance comes when she visits her husband who is on a boat to give him some dire news. She disapproves his sexist dialogue about the bikini-clad women surrounding him and their need to be there and chooses to leave the place by giving him just enough information that he needs to know. Later when their house is being broke into by thugs in the absence of her husband and she is asked where Thyagu is, she yells at them saying “Neengalam enge poreenga nu pondatti kitta sollita poreenga?” This clearly shows that this outwardly modern woman has no fear of the thugs and is rather filled with frustration that she has otherwise bottled up inside of her. Despite this, she accedes and surrenders to the cops instead of her husband.
- Jyothika as Chitra is given more screen space than the other women in the movie as Arvind Swamy’s (Varadan) wife. She has seen to be an epitome of how a woman in a house of patriarchy structure should be. Chitra goes to any extent to protect her family within her well defined power and is shown to have unconditional love for her husband. This is depicted in the scene where she visits Aditi Rao’s (Parvathi) house, who happens to be her husband’s girlfriend. Whilst everyone thinks that she has set out to confront her husband, she has instead intended to warn and protect her unfaithful husband. Whether she avoids facing his affair with the fear of losing him or has made peace with the fact that she has bigger problems to deal with is not clearly expressed. However, one thing is for sure that, she puts Varadan first before anyone else. This is clearly expressed when she stands by him with little grief after losing her father in her husband’s battle for blood power.
- Aditi Rao plays the role of a young, talented and beautiful journalist who is shown to have an affair with the brawny Arvind Swamy. Her character has simply been demeaned to be used as a puppet to boost the latter’s male ego which he is unable to own inside his house.
Thinking of it, we see that women have been silenced to props to make the men in the storyline seem more powerful. Although silencing them has demeaned them, it has also simply brought out their true power; the power of unconditional love.
It is important to remember that women are an epitome of warmth, sacrifice and endearment, however, should be aware of their own independence and power as a woman. Women need to be encouraged to be empowered, just not within the patriarchal system, but beyond it.