Guest Post by RAMA SRINIVASAN
Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.”
― Jane Austen, Persuasion
Austen’s words, a searing commentary on how patriarchy controls the narrative, remains relevant today despite tenacious efforts by women to wrest authorial control from men and narrate our own stories. Even as the struggle to find one’s voice and to be heard continues, we might also ask ourselves what we will be left with after we have successfully challenged male authority and supremacy in our stories, the idea of heroes and villains, of chaste wives and women of disreputable characters. In the moment of triumph, is there also a need of introspection? The MeToo movement, in India and elsewhere, opens our world(s) up to these and many other questions that do not have easy or ready answers. A standard reply, reproduced in several platforms when questions like ‘why now’ or ‘what next’ are raised is illuminating of the problem societies face when women tell stories: “For now, we should just listen to the women who want to speak up.” It not only represents the struggle to tell our stories on our own terms but also tell them without a fixed agenda or plan.
The current moment in Hindi cinema has been complementing these societal struggles, perhaps even foreshadowing the MeToo challenges to patriarchy by both wresting authorial power to tell stories of relatable people, especially of women, but also displacing plot devices and narrative arcs familiar to stories that end up reaffirming patriarchal authority. Continue reading Of Angry Women and Insecure Men – Hindi cinema and the MeToo Age: Rama Srinivasan