When the heroine's no is a no: Six Malayalam films which respect consent

Recent Malayalam films are refreshing in how they project rejection.
When the heroine's no is a no: Six Malayalam films which respect consent
When the heroine's no is a no: Six Malayalam films which respect consent
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'Winning' the girl has been the ultimate prize in several Indian films, with the lovelorn and ‘sincere’ hero chasing the uninterested heroine through cliched storylines that all end with her giving in - only because she couldn't shake him off.

However, recent Malayalam films are refreshing in how they project rejection. The neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu made the ‘soup boy’ trend popular, glorifying the rejected lover who guilt-trips the woman and abuses her in a drunken spate. Though Malayalam films have their share of misogyny, we're increasingly seeing films where men, even the heroes, can take rejection in their stride and move on.

*Spoilers ahead

Comrade in America: The premise for Dulquer Salmaan's love saga will have you believe that nothing but a couple walking together towards a romantic sunset would do. The film is about Aji, a young communist, who risks his life and money to travel from South America to the United States without a visa. The reason? His girlfriend's family has decided to marry her off to another man, and she calls him tearfully, asking him to rescue her. However, when Aji gets to the US, braving drug cartels, violent gangs and dehydration, he finds out that his girlfriend has decided to dump him because she doesn't think they'll get along.

Aji attends her wedding (in mundu and shirt, no less), wishes her and walks out. Although the scene plays to the galley with Dulquer mouthing a few dialogues about "Kerala boys and their word," he keeps his dignity and doesn't embark on a "I loved you so much, how could you do this" line of argument.

Angamaly Diaries: The critically acclaimed film had Antony Varghese playing Vincent Pepe, a young man embroiled in local gang wars. When in college, Vincent falls for a college-mate - his first kiss and more. The romantic song 'Ayalathe' between them leads one to think that their pairing will last for a good while.

But pretty soon, Vincent tells us that the woman dumped him for another man. There's no bitterness in how he says this and just like that, it's over. No high drama, no moralising, no guilt-tripping.

Jomonte Suvisheshangal: When fortunes change and the rich Jomon (Dulquer) becomes a pauper overnight, his girlfriend (Anupama Parameshwaran) who comes from an equally wealthy family is pressurised by her mother to ditch him.

Jomon overhears the conversation and steps in. Although angered by her family's high-handedness, he tells her that he is in no position to be in the relationship because there are loans to be repaid and that it's better for both of them to end it.

Maheshinte Prathikaram: This heartwarming story about a small-time photographer and his aspirations had Fahaadh Faasil playing Mahesh. He's deeply in love with his high school sweetheart Soumya (Anusree). However, she decides to dump him when she gets a better proposal.

Mahesh not only takes the rejection in his stride, he also watches her getting married with a smile on his face.

Aanandam: This campus love story was surprisingly mature in how it handled the subject of teen love. The aggressive, macho male Varun (Arun Kurien) falls for Dia (Siddhi) but she prefers his gentler friend.

Although Varun goes through a phase when he cold shoulders her, he eventually comes around and learns how to handle the rejection. Dia's father (Renji Panicker) whose wife decides to leave him is also shown to handle the separation with dignity and understanding.  

Premam: Celine (Madonna Sebastian) tells George (Nivin Pauly) that she's getting engaged to another man when George asks her if she'd be interested in marrying him. Although frustrated, George drops the subject then and there. Unlike the first part when he stalks Mary (Anupama Parameshwaran) like every other boy in school, as a grown man, he can handle a no. 

We have a "soup song" ritual in "Avalu vendada" but George doesn't persist and follow Celine around. Or try to convince her that she should pick him. When Celine comes back into his life, it's entirely out of her own choice.

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