The misogyny behind Dileep's comic smokescreen: Why Malayalam cinema can do without it

Dileep keeps getting away with his offensive brand of "humour".
The misogyny behind Dileep's comic smokescreen: Why Malayalam cinema can do without it
The misogyny behind Dileep's comic smokescreen: Why Malayalam cinema can do without it
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In “Meesa Madhavan” (2002), as Madhavan (Dileep) breaks into a woman’s room to steal her aranjanam, he looks desirously at the figure in slumber and mumbles— “I feel like raping her.” And then the theatre, that includes a motley crowd of children and women, erupts into laughter.

The same bunch can’t seem to hold off their glee when he repeats such obnoxious, offensive, and misogynistic digs in every single blockbuster movie of his.

That, my dear people, is called the Dileep comic smokescreen—it’s the key ingredient he has been banking on, to capitalise on his innocuous boy-next-door image. Ever since he has been investing in films, that is. Remove the smokescreen and you will see the crassness and sexism in his “adult” jokes. And just no one seems to mind. Or rather they choose not to get it. Even “Welcome to Central Jail”, his latest release, was another terrible show of misogyny and crass comedy, backed by a mindless story.

“Dileep mirrors the male peer group humour and the deep-rooted sexism in Kerala. Or to be more precise, the inherent patriarchy in our state,” says filmmaker Prahlad Gopakumar.

Dileep keeps getting away with these impressive titles: boy next door, man next door, the middle-class hero, “janapriyan” and so on. Between 2002 and now, he has been on an overdrive to skew whatever little gains gender politics may have made in Malayalam cinema - in favour of a vile patriarchy.  Here are some highlights:

Ring Master: It’s called the Great Indian Dileep trick — to camouflage a ridiculously offensive misogynistic film in the pretext of a children’s flick featuring a loveable canine. We are not sure what is more objectionable — that the heroine and the dog share the same name, or that the hero verbally insults his former lover in every frame simply because she chose her career over him. So, the doggie gets a best canine award and the hero maintains that “she is a better actor than her namesake actress.”

Maya Mohini: If this was his way of paying homage to a woman, we shudder to think what he would have done if he’d set out to denigrate her. The actor is in the get-up of a “desirable woman” for a major part of the running time (let’s not even get to the transphobia of it all!). His “Mohini” is shown as someone who is lusted after wherever she goes—in the bus, at home, in the market and she is even abducted. What about those revolting scenes involving “Mohini” and her groom’s wedding night? But guess what really takes that ghastly piece of cake? That in a film studded with three heroines, it is “Mohini” who is desired by most of the men in the film.

Inspector Garud: He plays an obnoxious cop, who starts off on the wrong foot with the heroine, who is a sub-collector. Then, just to settle scores with her, he marries her as he believes “marriage is the best way to keep a woman tied up.” Once married, he treats her in the shabbiest way—belittling her in front of her peers.

Mr Marumakan: In this film loosely based on the equally atrocious Dhanush film, “Mappilai” (2011), Dileep plays Ashok Raj, a proverbial do-gooder who marries into a rich family. It is left to the great hero to make a “good woman” out of his conceited wife. Every frame reeks of misplaced machismo. In one scene, she slaps a waiter and offers him a fat tip as compensation and the hero repeats the scene with her. He wastes no time in “taming” her. There is also an ideal “good woman” who keeps reminding the heroine about the benefits of being subservient to her husband.

(This article first appeared in You can read the original article here. The News Minute has syndicated the content.)

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