Consider this scene from a Mallu movie, which is typical of mainstream Indian cinema in general.
There is this man who is a musician, a music director. He maneuvers to get the woman he is in love with to come down from Bangalore to sing some songs for him. The woman, being of a frank nature, tells him that his music sucks, of course couched in better, more diplomatic words. Now there is a fire in the man, to prove his mettle to her. He tells his buddies he wants to write a perfect piece of music for her and sing it too. And afterwards, he is going to propose to her. His buddies are all enthusiastic about the idea. Of course they gotta be, Isn’t he the hero of the movie?
What do they say of plans laid by mice and men? Yup, they go astray. On D-day, the buddy who has gone to pick up the woman returns with the news that she is at her engagement party. Tsk tsk tsk. Apparently she not only failed to invite them all to the party, but had not even informed them.
Anyways, our man the musician, rushes off to the venue, corners the woman and talks of his love. But, he says magnanimously, all he will ask of her is for her to come to his studio and hear him sing the new song he has composed for her. She could then leave and lead her own life. Enter woman’s fiance, all villain-ish and all, and says, ‘Nothing doing man’ or words to that effect.
Now, it seems before he turned to making music in studios, the musician had been making music of a different kind bashing up people and breaking bones. He threatens the fiance with dire consequences of a similar sort if he is stopped. One bally hour is all he is asking. They could have their engagement and live happily ever after the woman listened to his song. Was that understood? The fiancee who wants all his limbs intact for the engagement party and subsequent life remains silent in the face of the bully thinly disguised as hero.
The musician then turns to the woman and says (no he does not ask her) imperiously, “Come!” And she, who had been standing silent watching proceedings in a mildly interested manner, as if the proceedings were about a third party, demurely brushes past her fiance without so much as an ‘excuse me please’ and follows the musician into his car.
I wanted to throw rotten tomatoes at the woman. All this while she hadn’t said a word. To use a cliche, perhaps the cat had got her tongue. Or maybe she swallowed it in shock? Or may be the director told her to shut up. Or the script-writer must have deleted her lines as unnecessary. It could also be that the story writer never even thought of giving her any lines, because, hey, why do women need to say anything when men are thrashing the topic anyway?
But seriously, what were the movie-makers thinking? Did she not have a voice of her own? Why did no one bother to find out what her opinion in the matter was? Didn’t she feel the musician (and her fiance) were being overbearing? Did she not owe her fiance an explanation before she walked out? How could she let two men discuss and make decisions for her? How could she bear to stand silent? Wasn’t it HER goddamn life?