Malayalam cinema saw the rise of many feudal lords in films like Padmarajan’s Thoovanathumbikal, I V Sasi – Ranjith team’s Devasuram, Ranjith’s Chandrolsavam. We have seen our dearest actor, Mohanlal, live the characters of Mangalassery Neelakandan, Chirakkal Sreehari, Mannarathodi Jayakrishnan, with shades of feudal dominance and power. Such obvious undertones of feudalism is outshined by the complete actor’s performances.
Among these, the character of Mangalassery Neelakandan, one which can be called the actor’s best performances, is the most arrogant feudal lord I have seen. Neelakandan is proud of his lineage and his father. He squanders all the wealth and good will his father and his ancestors had achieved. He never contributes anything to the family. When he realises he does not belong to the legacy he flaunted, he hurts his own mother, deaf to her pleas to stay at the time of her death. Setting aside all the heroism the character shows, Mangalassery Neelakandan is one of those feudal lords who is so much glorified for all the wrong reasons.
Coming to Mannarathodi Jayakrishnan, with all due respect to the efforts of the actors and filmmakers, the character of Jayakrishnan is one of those half cooked, idealised, feudal lord, who has faked throughout his life, so much, that he is not able to behave genuinely to his own family, friends, wife, or his beloved. The scene where we see Jayakrishnan trying to get a poor man out of his property, is portrayed as comedy. The underlying shade of Jayakrishnan’s arrogant feudalism is safely tucked away in the performance of Jagathy and Mohanlal.
The beginning of 2000s saw Mohanlal’s appearances in films like Joshiy’s Praja (written by Renji Panicker), Shaji Kailas’ Thandavam (Suresh Babu), Shaji Kailas’ Narasimham (again Ranjith), which were all replicas of such an arrogant character. Zakeer Husain (Praja) was a humanitarian, but the dirty jokes he cracks itself is a mark of a feudal figure born into patriarchy. Kaashinathan (Thandavam) is another such character which has undertones of patriarchy. All these films may have been commercial successes, yet the protagonists of these films have been glorified for all the wrong reasons.
We continue to see such films on Youtube and Hotstar, and feel goose bumps when Induchoodan (Narasimham) says ‘Po Mone Dinesa’, after wreaking havoc in the lives of the antagonists. Since the advent of this magic called cinema, the Indian film audience have been witnesses and victims of such glorified concepts of the Alpha male, and celebrated it, more than any other industry. We will continue to celebrate them. And we will continue to preach against feudalism, while worshipping such characters. We know how the actress was treated and trolled for voicing her opinion regarding the cruelly patriarchal dirty jokes of the Nithin Renji Panicker movie, Kasaba starring Mammootty.
Jokes apart, entertainment is important than such fickle outbursts. A book or a film has to primarily get readers or viewers. Social consciousness is not even secondary to the rating of your product. Cheers to that!
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A traveller at heart, writing is my art. Love is my God and this world is my home. Music is the drug and Cinema is the flame.