Now you can view this blog on your mobile phones! Give a try.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

CIA 3 Feminist approach of the movie ABCD (American Born Confused Desi)

Reginald Valsalan
1324108 / 2nd Sem. M.A English
Mass Communication / MEL 235
Prof. Anil Joseph Pinto and Prof. Vijayaganesh
                                                                         Feminist approach of the movie ABCD (American Born Confused Desi)
 Abstract: Cinema is meant and believed to entertain, to take the viewer to a world that is starkly different from the real one, a world which provides escape from the daily grind of life. Cinema is a popular media of mass consumption which plays a key role in molding opinions, constructing images and reinforcing dominant cultural values. The paper deals with representations of women characters in mainstream Molly Wood movies like 'ABCD' (American Born Confused Desi). It is deemed appropriate to examine this issue because women are a major chunk of the country's population and hence their portrayal on screen is crucial in determining the furtherance of already existing stereotypes in the society. This paper begins the description of how women are portrayed in the movie as a strong character without any support of a man. It also undertakes some glimpses from the film to analyze the portrayal.
Key Words: Cinema, Molly wood, movies, feminist, empowerment.
                          Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. Since 1970s, feminist film theory has revolutionized the way that films and their spectators can be understood. Feminist film theory has played a major role in improving the depiction of women role in the movies, the theory became the orthodox form of film theory, and such was the influence of it over the film industry.

                        The Aftermath of the World War 2 started giving importance to women because; it was an important time period in the continued development of gender roles in the United States. Because of the need for extra labor, women were for the first time, allowed to work outside the home in large numbers. This changed the perspective of women toward work, toward themselves, toward society and toward their place in society.  As a literary and then a filmic response to these massive changes a new narrative style emerged in the movie industry called the film noir. Film noir elevated the importance of women, often giving female characters a much more central role, showing women with greater strength and with more self-sufficiency. But these newly empowered women were also most often portrayed as inherently bad, or, at the very least, not as good as the Hollywood Virgin of earlier cinema.
                        The tentative thesis statement for the paper is: 'the tentative thesis for this paper is: 'portrayal of woman as an empowered character in the movie'. The study focuses on a Malyali woman who is a student in St.Aloysius College. Her ambition is to help the needy, but her good deeds have put some peoples honor and money at stake. Though she faces rough road on her way in doing good deeds, she stands firm like a rock. 

                        In the movie ABCD, the concept of empowered woman is brought in to light, though men try to treat women as an inferior or the 'other'. A similar ideology is implemented by the Indian society. However the will and courage of the Indian women break all these hurdles. The movie ABCD is purely a fiction, but the woman character introduced is the reflection of women in Kerala. The movie is about two Malayali NRI's from U.S.A who comes to study in Kerala. They meet Madhumitha (on whom the researcher's analysis is on) in her part time job of taking censes for the corporation, on people below poverty line. Then they meet her again in college, while she brings up a strike in college for increasing their fee, because it had lead one of her friends to the verge of suicide. She also helps these boys when they got into trouble with the politicians who she was going up against by helping the needy.

                       The researcher has analyzed various parts of the movie, which gives a clear picture of women empowerment and finally analysis the strength of the woman. When the protagonist Jacob and his friend is given a lift to college by the heroin Madhumitha, he tries to flirt with her by giving a crazy attitude, but instead of shying away or blushing, she stops her car and asked both of them to get out and drove off. This shows that, the film makers have exhibited an up graded version of Indian women who are not scared of men any more. In the olden days, film makers made movies where women don't know the right way of reacting to a man when he approaches her with a motive. She would either shy away or stand cowardly, not knowing what to say. Though the heroin is a bit harsh and rude to Jacob, it conveyed the message that women are not the age old concept of can be made to dance to a man's tune anymore, they have changed.

                       In another scene, the researcher focuses on the heroin and her woman friends, who stops classes in the whole college and starts off a strike, because one of their class mates tried to kill herself on the grounds that she could not afford to pay the hiked fees. When politicians and other business men heard about the ongoing strike, they comes to college to stop the ongoing strike from going any further, she along with her friends stand in front of the whole crowd present, instead of waging war hiding behind the shades, like how they were considered by the society to be. Today's world is a brand new world, with the transformation and molding, it has gone through a lot of changes even in the case of women. It has always been men, who have been doing the strikes or bandh, taking in to account the good or bad intention behind it. Even in movies until very recently, it is very rare to see women in such characters. This movie is a very strong example of changes in women portrayal in recent movies. Even when politicians and business men with very high level of influence threatened her and her friends to stop the strike or suffer the consequences, these girls replied to them saying, "You better pray that it is not you who is going cry for the things you have done". The girls were not bothered it was men or women they were going up against, according to they were fighting an evil.

                  The researcher looks at a scene where the protagonist Johns and his friend Kora, gets into  a trouble with the state government for getting involved with the Naxals, which was not true. Because they did not know what to do to save themselves, they went seeking Madhumitha's help. Understanding their situation, she accepts to help them by giving them shelter from police. Woman do have a big heart and are known to help, it has been proved to the world by great people like Mother Theresa, Diana etc But helping a person who has been convicted by the government falsely takes more than good heart. Here courage to stand up for a good cause and face whatever the consequences it may be plays a bigger role. Today it is thought by certain men that, women with such qualities do not exist. But through this movie, the filmmaker has shown it to the world that, it is a very wrong conception and, they are there and they are right amongst us.
The researcher concludes that, the film has indeed shown the empowerment of women. This is not the old age where women are considered as the second sex, they have come up in equal to the men this is a new age for women. Hitler's thoughts of woman has to be confined to the kitchen has rusted and withered away, they do not exist anymore.


Prakkat, Martin , ABCD (American Born Confused Desi), Prod Thameens 2013 Film, 14 June 2013.

Mulvey, Laura, Kaja Silverman, Barbara creed, and Teresa Lauretis. Feminist Film Theorist. 1. 1. London and New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis group, 2006. 143. eBook. < Film Theorists (Routledge Critical Thinkers) - Shohini Chaudhuri.pdf>.


No comments: