We were assured there wouldn't be any bus chasing involved to 'get the girl'. Thank heavens.

Taramanis teaser is a spot on glimpse of love in the time of urbanisation
Flix Entertainment Monday, May 23, 2016 - 19:12

It’s an interesting time for female characters in Tamil cinema – ‘Iraivi', Karthik Subburaj’s women-centric film is set to release soon, and Nalan Kumaraswamy’s 'Kadhalum Kadandhu Poganum' had a fascinating portrayal of an independent woman trying to break away from a sheltered small town environment. 

‘Taramani’, director Ram’s third film after Kattrathu Tamizh and Thanga Meengal, explores the juxtaposition of a locality that was earlier predominantly a lake, and now a rapidly developing IT park, with young, urban relationships. A few years ago, he addressed a mixed crowd of budding screenwriters and directors at IIT Madras, on toying with the concept of an urban love story. A story free from the tiring, almost terrifying stereotype of a man chasing a woman who is about to board a bus. The stereotypes of persistently stalking, leering and leching at a woman who just wants to be left alone until she magically gives in. This was, as per the custom of tone-deaf blockbusters, followed by a cheery song of triumph. 

 In ‘Taramani’, he wants to normalize the autonomy of a woman in a relationship of her choice, and the man is left behind, emasculated by this autonomy. Considering years of persistent stalking, it’s hard on him too, right?

 


Starring Andrea Jeremiah and Vasanth Ravi, the teaser opens with a fantastic aerial shot of what appears to be a drone camera hovering over Taramani. Towering skyscrapers hog the landscape, dotted with smaller buildings around them. In the corner lies a small sliver of lake, almost a hangover of what Taramani used to be – a lake. Before Tidel Park and exclusive properties, that is. The aerial shots of Taramani's day and nightlife intermittently appear through sequences.

Through various scenes of a relationship - the couple getting ready for a date, shopping, on a bike - the boyfriend's questions are unending. “How come you have so many friends on Facebook? I just have 15.” “A skirt? Why do you have to wear it till here, why not down there?” The boyfriend is a master of spying, a master of policing what she wears and whom she’s friends with.” “The amazing lover” – as we are informed -  implodes on his motorbike after a customary shopping trip to the mall – “How does he know your size?!” 

And the last straw? Blackmail. Threatening to jump off a building if she doesn’t reveal what she wants to do with another man’s attention. “Whether I sleep with him or not is up to me. Jump if you want!” she says, slamming the phone.  

It’s a good look at how upward mobility, especially of women, is trying to keep in tandem with the rapid urbanization of a place once relegated to the outskirts of a city. And how some men, who normally benefit from gender roles in a relationship, feel increasingly threatened trying to keep up with economically, sexually and technologically empowered women. Like the sliver of a lake, there's little place or relevance for a man's entitlement in an extremely strong and independent female workforce, and Chennai's IT sector played a fair role in this (aside from the narrative of infamy it has earned). Ram, years ago, did assure there wouldn't be any bus chasing. Thank heavens.

 

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