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The other day I had been to see a Mallu movie, Arabiyum, Ottakavum, P Madhavan Nairum (The Arab, the Camel and P Madhavan Nair). It was the usual Priyadarshan fare: a few misunderstandings, some impersonations, and resultant hilarity. The story goes along the following lines *Spoiler alert*

Guy meets gal, love happens and triumphs against some really tough odds. Guy and gal romance and end up getting engaged at a fabulous party. All hunky-dory so far, right? On a day that they are to go for an evening out, the guy has an unexpected meeting to attend. Guy calls gal, tells her about the meeting. Gal says, okay fine, she has some work too anyways, see him tomorrow. Guy’s secretary walks in a few minutes later and announces that the meeting is cancelled. Guy (with a poor memory, the gal had told him she would be busy) decides best thing would be to give gal a surprise. Guy reaches gal’s house, but unlike normal people, does not ring door bell. Oh alright, guy wants to give gal a surprise, I did get that. Anyways, guy pushes door open and softly calls her name. No answer from gal. Guy wonders what gal is up to. He hears some noise coming from upstairs. Unlike a straightforward guy, he does not call out, “Hey are you up there?”Like a stealthy robber guy tiptoes upstairs and like a deplorable Peeping Tom unabashedly peeps into the bedroom of the gal to find his fiancée walk out of the bathroom in her bathrobe and into the arms of a man whose back is turned to him and so remains a mysterious stranger. Guy now suitably shocked and shaken, goes back down the stairs in a trance, finds his boss’ coat staring at him from a chair, puts two and two together, gets an answer that is closer to hundred and stunned walks out with murder in his heart.

From here on the story wanders on to a convoluted path of kidnap, ransom, tough bad people, poor good people, conniving family members, weddings, dance, impersonations, mistaken identities and resultant mindless hilarity that has you laughing in spite of it not making any sense (to you, that is) at all, that you tend to forget that little misunderstanding at the beginning that had set the ball rolling in the first place. So you feel rather disconcerted and disoriented when you find the guy back at the gal’s door with only few more reels of the movie left to go, with the sole intention it seems of calling the girl a few choice epithets, totally uncomplimentary to her.

This time for a change, guy rings doorbell. Gal duly opens door. Where have you been? I was so worried! There’s not a place I haven’t looked for you, says the distraught gal. The guy is not buying any of it. He goes into his drunken spiel of what a cheat she is, nothing but a slut yada, yada, yada. By now everyone in the audience except the guy has guessed that there ought to be some other more plausible explanation (which I whispered in the L & M’s ear long before this scene ever happened on screen). The guy is a gone case by now. He does not even seem to remember the odds against which their love had triumphed. He is stuck in the ‘I saw you in someone else’s arms, you slut’ groove. The gal all surprised and disappointed says, I don’t know the first thing about what you are going on about. What has happened to you? About then, hearing all the commotion, down the stairs, the same stairs the guy had climbed up some days back, comes a young man. He stops half-way and asks what the matter is. And who is this, the guy asks pointing to the new entrant. Oh so you have more than one in your kitty, he says slyly. You are not content with having just my boss.

The gal is shocked and disgusted at the insinuations. The new guy stares disbelievingly. Right then, through another door, as if like a rabbit from a conjurer’s hat , out walks a someone else who is an exact replica of the gal. The guy spouts some more nonsense much to the exasperation of the crowd of watchers before finally noticing that there are two of them gals of his, and no, it had nothing to do with his drunken state either. The second entrant now wants to know who this uncouth man is polluting their drawing room with his vile words (and thoughts). He is Fiancé-No-More, introduces the hapless gal to her twin. And this is my twin, she tells the dazed guy through gritted teeth, the surprise I had been hinting on earlier. And, how could you say all those things to me! Boohoo. She runs up the stairs saying it is all over between them. About time, say I.

The guy now looks as if a train has just hit him in the small of his back, which sobers him enough to climb the stairs following his fiancée who has just left the room in tears. Looking suitably penitent he apologises to her. All well, right? Nope. That’s when I got pissed off. Imagine the situation for yourself. Here is the guy who has behaved in the most atrocious manner albeit in grief brought on by misunderstanding. I concede that. How would you feel in his place, if you had found you had made a blooper of gargantuan proportions against the one you love and who loves you? You’d be utterly, thoroughly devastated, right? You’d probably want to fall at their feet and ask forgiveness, curse yourself for jumping to wrong conclusions, not that the existence of a twin is something that comes to the average person’s mind, only in movies does that happen so frequently. But that’s not the point. One would feel so ashamed of oneself for all the scene created and extremely distressed that one distrusted the love of one’s life to the extent one did. You’d cringe for having called her obnoxious names. You would feel like the lowliest of worms the way you treated your blameless love.

Nothing of the sort happens here. Films you say, anything goes in them. How true. But you will see why I don’t stop with saying that. Don’t you think if it was just a filmi thing I would have been the first one to drop the whole thing like a bad egg and walk away? Once the matter-of-fact apology is done with in a perfunctory manner, the guy has the gall to say, “But you can’t really blame me. Anyone would have behaved the way I did right then” CAN YOU BLEDDY BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE?! He bleddy says, but you can’t really blame me.  (Who else do you blame for the way you jump to conclusions and not behaving like an adult when under stress?) Even in that moment when any normal right thinking person would have been aghast at what he had done, the bleddy idiot thinks of HIS damn self. How bad is that? I think it is pretty bad. He wants to clear HIS conscience and damn if his fiancee has hurt feelings.

Why would a film want its hero to mouth such defensive statements? The answer is simple. That is how it is in real life, in fact worse. How many times have we come across such people in real life? If you ask me I’d say, P-L-E-N-T-Y. And I will not hesitate in saying they have almost ALWAYS have been men. They make the gravest of mistakes or accusations and the minute they get an inkling that they are in the wrong, they try to end the matter with a perfunctory ‘I am so sorry’ if at all they can bring themselves to say it. If in your misery you say, “But how could you have thought that? Didn’t it happen this (or that) way?” they do not show the sensitivity to give a hearing (or vindication) to your feelings. The Lords have decided that they are sorry for what they have done and as the menials, be happy that they apologised and move on with life, cheerfully if you please, and that’s an order. Isn’t that how it is? If you say another word, the next thing you will hear is, “Sorry bola na!” (I told you I am sorry) Oh yeah and your grief is supposed to switch itself off the minute you hear that. And if you aren’t too careful the next thing you hear will be, “You said this or you did that and that is the reason I thought so and had to shout at you.” Oh yes, so I HAD to shout at you like some spoilt child. Don’t miss the HAD in the sentence. You made me do it, I had no other choice. I see this happening time and again. The wrongdoer takes on the upper-hand and puts the wronged one in the dock.

What about the gal in the movie? She accepts his explanations meekly (like a woman is supposed to in real life) and coyly tells him that had been her twin sister and brother in law that he had chanced upon in her room. She also explains how the coat (the boss had fallen into the swimming pool on the day of the party and had left it there) had come back from the cleaners that day and she had just left it on the chair.  Made me nauseous listening to the whole thing. This is exactly how women behave in real life. It was like she was accepting responsibility for the whole fiasco so that the guy, her hero could continue feeling guilt-free and macho. I can bet my bottom dollar that in real life, the man would have shouted at the woman, “Why did you leave the coat there? What else was I supposed to think when I saw that f***ing thing on the chair? Blah blah blah…” and the woman would be standing meekly accepting responsibility or sometimes shouting back too, but still taking the responsibility for his actions.

Why do you think man feels obliged to push blame on to the woman in his life and clear his own heart of any feelings of guilt? Why does he not accept his mistakes as his own, his responsibility? Why must he want women to take the responsibility of his feelings, leaving him free, an innocent bystander sucked in by the actions of others? I don’t know about other women. But to me a macho man is who can be himself with me, someone who may succumb to negative emotions, but is equally able to own up to those lapses, who is able to show remorse rather than turning tables and putting the onus of his feelings on me. Macho are men who at the first sign of conflict do not turn tail and run; macho are those who do not churlishly end up saying, “You made me do it,” but simply say with conviction, “I am sorry, I should not have behaved that way.” Why, I don’t even need the macho tag, they can just simply be human, that is all one needs.

This post is included in the Women’s Web Pick of the Week