Open letter to SS Rajamouli
Eega’, the blockbuster movie aimed at children, seems to doing just what it shouldn’t – glorifying violence where the villain strangulates the hero with his foot; superstition of rebirth; and showing women as damsels in distress
My problem with ‘Eega’ – the movie that has been declared to be one of the biggest blockbusters this year and has won wide critical acclaim – is that has publicly announced that it is primarily aimed at children, but flouts the rules for such a movie. A children’s movie, or at least one aimed at them, unlike other films, has the moral duty of getting its values right primarily because children cannot make up their minds about what is right and wrong.
Adults have to set the moral compass and it becomes all the more important that a film that they are watching, should have it’s heart in the right place. A movie which is as entertaining as this and has a child-friendly protagonist (as the housefly) has an enormous impact on the choices the children make when they grow up.
The question is – Should a children’s film have violence in the form of murder? I asked director SS Rajamouli on Twitter, a day or two before the release of the film. Being the good sport he is, he answered thus, “Depends on how you view it…aren’t snow white or lion king interlaced with murder? How wud u rate hansel and gratel (sic)? A bit of back and forth finally got this response out of him, “It depends on how you perceive it. Varies from person to person”. I told the director that many children’s stories have murder.
One can tell a story to a kid where a lion ate a deer. Or that some bad guy killed a good guy. But you cannot tell the kid that the bad guy punched the good guy till he was coughing blood. Then he put his naked foot on the neck of the good guy and said that he wants to feel the life go out of him, which eventually happened because he crushed the guy’s neck with his foot.
Telugu cinema used to have strong women characters. In the 90s, the breed just disappeared. When Sekhar Kammula’s ‘Anand’ had a strong, independent, working woman as a protagonist, for a moment it looked like women’s lib is back in Telugu cinema. Sadly ‘Eega’ takes the movie back to the middle ages. The movie shows Samantha, an important character in the film, as a working girl.
She has all noble intentions, and does the usual Telugu cinema heroine things like helping the needy, playing with kids etc. But suddenly, for cinematic purposes, she becomes a damsel in distress when she has to take a small decision as going to Delhi to meet the ministers. It becomes an issue on which she needs convincing from friends. Whenever she needs help, a male character has to help her.
From getting money from Sudeep, to help Nani to get rid of goons, villains and other assorted characters, the lesson we take away is that in our society we cannot have strong willed women.
All the girls who watch the movie should go out with the idea that when in trouble – Don’t fight, but get help from men because they can do anything. And the idea that at ten’o clock in the night, a girl can’t go home alone in our society is repulsive. Of course, there are alarming number of atrocities being commited on women. The point here is that we are teaching young girls to be cowards making male predators bolder.
I know. I know. It is supposed to be a fairy tale right. So reincarnations and tantras are fine? NO! They are not fine! Fairy tales have morals. Fairy tales are for people who understand them and who can explain the moral fiber to a child. Fairy tales are for educated societies.
With the levels of illiteracy we have, and with news reports of witch-hunts in villages to this day, ‘Eega’ with its superstitious beliefs undermines the efforts of organisations like Jana Vignana Vedika. Again more alarming because it is aimed at children, a large of number of whom have parents who also believe in these superstitions thereby starting a vicious circle.
So Sudeep killed Nani and made it look like an accident and he became a fly and gathered evidence to convict Sudeep. Oh wait, no! Nani just killed Sudeep. While this is a common plot in Telugu cinema it reinforces society’s belief that no justice is to be had from our judiciary.
Alarming because we are teaching our kids – Don’t approach the police or a court. Just take revenge by killing them.
By letting films like this go scot-free without a minimal discussion all we are doing is getting our next generations ready for more mayhem on the streets. All I am pleading for is for good directors like Rajamouli to use their great abilities to help the society. Surely it is not too much to ask for. Right?
– Adarsh Matham(HANS)