The vengeful woman in Patriarchal Cinema

Revenge stories have been an integral part of cinema for a long time. We often see how the hero vows to take revenge against the baddie and later succeeds to do so. It is almost impossible to suffer without making the baddie pay for it, every act already contains revenge. Cinema portrays him as the ultimate hero, a savior and an immortal being.
But what about portrayal of women? How often do you see a revenge saga featuring a woman? Mainstream cinema often perpetuates the objectification of women in cinema. Cinema’s ‘Gaze’ often distorts the view of women on screen, creating an unrealistic impression of them for the audience to witness. She merely appears for a song and dance number and may be mouths a few dialogues. It is not often that we seen woman playing a strong sensible character which is relatable. Some of the exceptional films where women are portrayed as heroes are probably a few. Some of which are Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani, Michael Heneke’s Amour and Rituparno Ghosh’s Chitrangada. It is unusual to see a woman take revenge in mainstream South cinema. One exceptional movie in recent times is 22 Female Kottayam.
This 2012 blockbuster, directed by Aashiq Abu was one-of-a-kind. The movie predominantly drew inspiration from Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, Sriram Raghavan’s Ek Hasina Thi, Double Jeopardy, Mahesh Bhatt‘s Gumrah, Australian Miniseries Bangkok Hilton and N. Sankaran Nair’s Cabaret Dancer.
The story begins with Tessa K. Abraham played by Rima Kallingal, a Malayali nurse living and working in Bangalore, who is looking to settle in Canada. In the quest for her visa, she meets Cyril, a man who runs a visa agency. Over the course of time, they begin to know each other and fall in love. Everything goes smoothly until the night Tessa is mercilessly raped. The film revolves around how Tessa seeks revenge and ends up victorious. The characterization of Tessa is an highly enduring one. It intelligently narrates the transformation of a gullible, 22 year-old girl into bold, tough woman.
The characters in this movie are modern and have no qualms about being in a live-in relationship or parading about their chastity. This is a film where gender roles are broken, and women treat the opposite gender equally. Ashiq Abu gets a special mention once again for breaking the stereotype and creating an example for neo-realistic films in Mollywood. The movie is definitely a cult-classic. The overwhelming success of it has paved way for its remake in Tamil and Telugu called ‘Mallini 22 Palayamkottai’ and ‘Malini 22 Vijayawada’ respectively. This movie is currently the talk of the town, thanks to its relatively fresh star cast.
Here are our Top 5 expectations from this movie:
1) The movie is directed by yesteryear actress Sripriya. It will be interesting to watch a female director break the stereotyped portrayal of women in Tamil cinema.
2) A power-packed performance by Nithya Menon. Unlike other films, the heroine is the lead protagonist here. Nithya Menon, as we know gave a brilliant performance in her earlier films 180 and Veppam, this movie will definitely win her accolades for her role.
3) A completely new cast. Right from the lead actor to the supporting artists, we will get to see a string of new artists perform. The supporting artists have high performance-oriented roles like the Malayalam movie. The cast is sure give the film a fresh look.
4) Music. If there was something that the original Malayalam film lacked was the gripping background score. We wish Mallini 22 has a haunting music score which adds to the suspense in the plot.
5) Cinematography. The cinematography is the key to make a suspense-thriller worth-watching. We hope the cinematography is another reason to keep the viewer engaged with a gripping plot.

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