Growing up as a Telugu-speaking girl, my only exposure to Telugu cinema were the blockbusters. Like most mainstream Indian films, they encouraged misogyny. The only thing that Telugu heroines do in most movies is ‘beautify’ the film. There are three kinds of Telugu mainstream films. The action movies where the hero keeps beating up the bad guys or the romantic ones or the comedy ones. Needless to say that all degrade not just women but fat people, differently abled people, mentally challenged people etc. I must say that even Bollywood has evolved to some extent but Tollywood mostly produces the same kind of crap (or maybe I am not watching the right movies). Sorry, ‘Baahubali’ may be a very good-looking film but it has the same regressive values that plague Indian society (Here’s why).
The other day, there was this scene in this Telugu movie where the ‘hero’ talked about the body of a woman whom he had just met as if her body was a public property. What’s heartbreaking is that even our loved ones and friends don’t realize how disrespectful these movies are to women. I personally don’t know what to do when my own family watches such films. Should I refuse to join them? Should I just tolerate it because after all, my loved ones are happy? Should I express my displeasure knowing that people are not going to understand? I mean, if everybody is in a good mood, you don’t want to spoil the fun right? But at the same time, what do you do about *your* values? One question comes to my mind: If the logic behind not speaking up against these issues so that others are not hurt or that their fun is not spoiled, then why are they laughing at things that hurt others? I should not express my displeasure at those who are laughing at a fat man because I will spoil their fun and I must think about others but why are they not caring about the fat man’s feelings? I wish I had a solution to this because I am torn between my anger at the misogyny and my desire to see my loved ones happy.
There was a time when I unwillingly listened to homophobic jokes because I didn’t want to create a ‘scene’ or spoil the fun. But this ‘fun’ is similar to the ‘fun’ that a bully has when he/she bullies somebody who is different than him/her.
I stumbled upon this video recently (click). A person named Annapurna Sunkara said all those things that I have felt since my childhood as a Telugu speaking woman (I’m sure many women feel this way).What’s sad is that many people have trolled her and the worst part is that many women have spoken out strongly against the video and called the person an attention seeker.
It’s not just the Telugu cinema though. This mindset is prevalent everywhere…not just in films, but the entire society…not just in India but the entire world.