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Sexism and misogyny in Tamil film industry
Some days ago, a video went viral on YouTube. In the video, T Rajendar, a forgotten director of some trashy movies and hammy actor of yesteryears (whose only claim to fame now is his son, actor Simbu), could be heard lashing out at young and upcoming actress Sai Dhanshika for forgetting to mention his name when she thanked those who had worked with her in the film.

This incident took place at a press meet held to promote the film, Vizhithiru, which stars Dhnasika.  Even as the distraught actress tried to explain, Tajendar went on with his crass and abusive outburst.  Behind him, young male actors Kreshna and Vidharth sat listening to the older man's tirade, laughing merrily as if the whole thing was a joke. 

Near Dhanshika sat the director Venkat Prabhu, completely ignoring whatever was happening on stage. None of the other men thought it fit to intervene on behalf of the actress, who by then was in tears, while this distasteful and disgusting tamasha was going on.  Rajendar could be heard lambasting the actress for her lack of 'panbu' or 'civility' even as he seemed oblivious to the fact that it was his action that reeked of it. 

However, soon after the video went viral, many people in the Tamil film industry condemned Rajendar and expressed support for the actress. They included actor Vishal, radio VJ and actor Balaji, and many others, including actresses. Vishal pointed out that even he has forgotten to mention names sometimes at such events (Nobody seems to have taken him to task for this). 

Balaji especially came out very strongly accusing the director of being arrogant and chauvinistic. Even the other characters in this sordid drama were criticised for their appalling lack of chivalry. Since then, Kreshna and Vidharth have tried to offer feeble excuses for their disgusting behaviour while Venkat Prabhu offered a very maudlin account of his being raised to respect elders which was apparently why he didn't intervene.  His words dripped with sycophancy as he tried to make his point without causing any offence whatsoever to Rajendar who behaved like a common boor in public. 

All this is not surprising in the least. There is certain hypocrisy at work in the culture of Tamil Nadu. Woman is worshipped as 'thai' or mother but at the same time, there is a hidden misogyny which comes out on occasions like this. Women who are public figures often find themselves the target of this virulent misogyny.  It is also evident in the movies produced here where heroines are pulled up for speaking good English or wearing modern clothes. Actress Khushbu was attacked for her comments on premarital sex, the late chief minister Jayalalitha was almost disrobed in the Assembly by DMK party men, movies glorify stalking as a normal way to woo a woman and so on.

Unabashed sycophancy is a part of Tamil Nadu politics and culture and this has made the state's politicians the laughing stock of the entire country.  Respect to elders is a good thing but remaining silent in the face of injustice is nothing but mere cowardice and spinelessness. Being in the limelight, young male actors need to be more conscious of the fact that people are watching them and may pick up cues from their behaviour. 

As it is, violence against women is rising exponentially in India while the common people remain apathetic to the myriad incidents which happen in public, where women are molested and abused on the streets in broad daylight.

As such, one cannot respect so-called filmy heroes like Vidharth and Kreshna who could laugh like hysterical hyenas while a young woman was being tongue-lashed in public by a person old enough to be her grandfather, that too over a non-issue. Their heroism seems to be only for the movies and not to be practised in real life! It makes us wonder about the kind of parenting they received as well as the quality of education they underwent. 

Parents who teach their sons to disrespect women and teachers who train students not to question authority are equally to blame for this sorry state of affairs in Tamil Nadu as well as other states. These men should realise that age or experience is no excuse for gratuitous abuse of another person, male or female, and that they should speak up against such incidents boldly and fearlessly.  

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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