Gender and the Female Role “Mirch Masala”

Gender and sexuality in India has a very rich history. India was one of the first cultures to look at sex scientifically as compared to socially, which led to many of the first books on sexual behavior and desires. This sexual history has been a manifest of the many religious and indigenous peoples that have arisen from this vast region. In the movie ” Mirch Masala” we see this gender play a huge rule in the narrative of the main character Sonbai. What interests me most about this movie is the dynamic played in the protection of Sonbai. This interactions of the forces that protect or attack Sonbai write a narrative and theme that would be seen as feminist at the time of the production.The author “Ketan Mehta” pits the two genders against each other with only a few exceptions, specifically the Abu Main the old gatekeeper. Just like the other films Lagaan and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai we seen the main theme of the film gender roles within purely indigenous indian society bend but not break. The character that draws my interest is Abu Main as he breaks with the gender trend of males in the village. The village subedar is the male antagonist that portrays the male gender as a animalistic power hungry figure bent on individual conquest. However, I see the main role of men in the film as simply accepting the norms of village and accepting of male dominance. That is why the depiction of the old gatekeeper fascinates me. He is portrayed as an old wise man that has seen many years, similar to the schoolmaster who is also wise. Both of these figures bend the traditional gender roles of the village and oppose the condemnation of Sonbai. They are depictied in a positive light by the director and you can tell that he was trying to show how these two figures are above the other males of the village.

The last point I would like to make about the movie and its dynamic is how women view Sonbai in the film. Originally they are upset about Sonbai for upsetting the balance of the village and causing a disturbance. They too wish to see the conflict end and peace return, however we see a very vivid statement at the end of the film. When the film ends the women of the village retaliate against the Subedar in protection of Sonbai and he is humiliatingly defeated. I believe the author is speaking to the power of women and the believe that it will ultimately be up to women themselves to free themselves from the constraints of a patriarchal society. Men such as the schoolmaster and the gatekeeper which portray male figures in support of the female struggle for equality are overtaken, and it was ultimately up to the power of the females in the film to fight for equality and freedom.


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