My review of Podaa Podi can end with a three word phrase – Not worth reviewing. But seeing at the so called positive reviews that are doing rounds in the media, I thought I should pen my thoughts about one of the most regressive movies I have ever seen in my life.
Podaa Podi is story of Arjun (Simbu) and Nisha (Varu Sarathkumar) who fall in love at a snap of the fingers when they meet in a pub. Varu is a orphan taken care by her guardian Veena (Shobana) and was brought up in London. A dancer, she wants to win to the Let’z Dance show (fictional version of So You Think You Can Dance) while Arjun claims to be an Animator stays with his Uncle (VTV Ganesh). The couple break- up, make up, get married, have a child, lose their child in a freak accident, break-up, make up, win a dance competition and have another child. That’s really the story of this movie. If you think, I have given out spoilers; there is nothing really to spoil in this movie.
Podaa Podi is unapologetically regressive that feeds in to the misogynistic attitude of men and makes it very fashionable to be male chauvinistic. Sample this, Arjun is the quintessential Tamil cultured guy who doesn’t have any qualms about having sex with his lover before marriage but thinks her salsa dance is vulgar. He is instructed by his Uncle to give a child to his wife so that she would not pursue dancing. When she is in remorse because of her child’s death, he calls out to her to come back so that he can have more children. All these are done partly in the name of comedy. May be the film maker and the hero haven’t taken this movie serious, but they have some serious issues in portraying women. It’s wrong for a married woman to participate in a dance show. It’s wrong for a married woman to hug her friend of other gender. It’s wrong for a married woman to wear dresses she likes.
Nisha is portrayed as frivolous and chooses her boyfriend based on the amount of Pounds he is wearing. She gives away every bit of her life in the name of love and doesn’t even mind losing her career or her child because of her husband’s attitude. The diametrical characterization is baffling and I wonder where her independent attitude flew away. Varu Sarathkumar is a wonderful dancer but that doesn’t make her a better actress. Her characterization also doesn’t give her any scope for acting.
I don’t want to do a normal review about how wonderful the cinematography was or how bad the music was. I think it’s time for Tamil filmmakers to introspect about how they portray women and relationships. This is an industry that saw wonderful portrayals of strong women from various directors including KB, Balu Mahendra, Jayakanthan and Mahendran. Movies like Podaa Podi that claim to be modern are archaic in ideas and utterly distasteful. On the hindsight, I am also thinking that I can’t blame directors like Vignesh Shivan (Podaa Podi’s director), because audiences like us are to be blamed. I could see men clapping and howling when Arjun’s character advises Nisha on how to be a “Tamil cultured” girl. I could see them booing at Nisha when she surprisingly laments about her situation to her guardian. If the movies are mirrors of a society, I am really scared when I see movies like Podaa Podi.
P.S: Why Shobana? Why….