Remember that infamous episode of Rajeev Masand’s Roundtable? She suggested that women who were sexually harassed and didn’t fight back were responsible and that compulsory martial arts training could solve the problem. I tried to add some nuance to the conversation. It was terrifying to see. Not only does she allude to physical violence as a solution to a deep-seated systemic problem that leaves women vulnerable, but she embraces the patriarchal idea that women are responsible for the actions of the men around them. .
In the movie Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey (2022), it might seem as if the main character, Jaya, or Jayavarati, took Rani’s advice to heart. For her, the only way out of her abusive marriage is to learn how to fight back.When Jaya landed her first kick, her husband flew across the room and threw a table on impact. Crash into We quickly deduced from the exaggeration of the scene that this must have happened in Jaya’s head. The shots came back to her as she meekly made her way to the kitchen, playing out the delicious crunch of the table breaking on her impact, the firmness of her legs falling into his soft belly in her imagination. I don’t know if I felt
But this movie completely subverts that expectation. This scene is not Jaya’s imagination. It really happened. The table remains broken. Her husband remains in pain in her lower abdomen. Remnants of her training are presented as evidence of her newfound physical prowess. There are footprints on the bathroom wall where she practiced sure-footed kicks, the pillows hanging limp from the trees behind the house were where she honed her punches, and the long white tiles in the cupboard she wrapped herself in. Cloth twists… and protects her hands. The dramatization of the scene reminds us that the director did not actually suggest this as a remedy for those facing domestic violence. It doesn’t really suggest that you have to drug and kidnap. It is intended to emphasize
These reactions do not suggest a plausible solution, instead the film is primarily concerned with highlighting the problems at hand and society’s very real indifference to these women. What was interesting to me, however, was the direct assumption that while watching this film, I made a kick in Jaya’s imagination. may hint at the fight against domestic violence and patriarchy, both literally and figuratively, but there is one more point to make. My assumption came entirely from never seeing the average female lead engage in a fight sequence in the same way that a male does on screen. If Joseph (who plays an abusive husband) himself had a similar fight, I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that it was a dream sequence. We are accustomed to physical strength and abilities that are superior to the real life of male heroes. I’ve never seen a similar visual used for a female lead, of such normal, everyday variety as Jaya.
So when I saw Darshana Rajendran as Jaya performed those moves, the pause in disbelief that I supply Indian cinema with enough was lacking. Not only did it create a well-executed storyline that hits the point without preaching, but it also shows how to make viewers consider themselves what to expect from a particular gender performing onscreen. A man shoots a fight scene in excruciating slow motion, activates sound effects, a vegetable cart topples, and an entire market is destroyed, why can’t Jayavarati have a similar moment in the sun? In the final fight sequence, where she thrashes her ex-husband’s workers who have come to close their business, I wanted to clap and whistle like men do in a fight scene in a theater. My intention is not to glorify violence or to say that fight sequences are an ingrained part of commercial films and there is nothing wrong with them. Even if we are willing to abandon the By confounding expectations by having women possess extraordinary martial arts moves, Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey to Me is an Indian cult where overtly masculine displays of power and prestige are wielded for more feminist ends. and marked a key moment in Malayalam cinema. Doing so allows us to question both the existence of the fight scene and the audience’s gendered expectations. Don’t listen to Rani Mukerji in the real world, but in the world of cinema what kind of movies do women haunt? The battle is certainly about how women are played. may play a role in overturning the patriarchal concept of
The author is a practitioner of Kuchipudi and a PhD candidate from the University of Cambridge.