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It's sad that Lakshmy Ramakrishnan squandered the opportunity to raise important questions about the lack of ICCs in the cinema industry, the responsibility of the other men around her to ensure decent female participation as well as representation. Unfortunately, her views on...
how the caste hierarchy operates, how women are portrayed in cinema as well as the exhibition of violence onscreen are all muddled and in the same way: she misses the history and the purpose behind the choices made by individual filmmakers, putting completely opposite sides in...
the same bag, vaguely equating the assertion by an oppressed group to reinforcement of dominant caste pride. To her, both of them are making much of caste identity while those who stay silent on caste are seen as the nondivisive promoters of peace. Similarly, she misses the point
that all violence isn't gratuitous and that every portrayal of bloodshed isn't meant to cater to those who get off on a show of cathartic gore. On both counts, her response is merely that of a baffled conservative reactionary who finds her erstwhile comfortable worldview upset...
But what she said about female representation in the earlier decade is clearly a failure of memory or a wilful romanticization of the past. To be charitable and give her the benefit of doubt, one can only assume that she's seen very few movies from earlier decades of Tamil cinema
Honestly, every woman viewer of cinema today should be thankful that we don't get subjected to an Indhu or Vandicholai Sinrasu every other week. Today, as Vetrimaaran said, such regressive tripe gets called out for a minimum. No idea what she thinks of as great women characters!
All this said, there was a lot of passive-aggressive behaviour from the men at the table that seemed to clearly put her on the defensive. After all, if she is politically ignorant but willing to learn, others could have drawn out of her what she really felt concerned about rather
than constantly side-eyeing her or even snubbing her. After all, not everyone at that table has a record of always being as woke as they now pose, especially Parthiban who recently put out a tweet objectifying women and was forced to delete it. Except Vetrimaaran, nobody tried to
even engage with her meaningfully and the couple of instances when she brought in valid points, she was dismissed or mocked (like what the heck was that Vijayakanth comparison at the end?) and there seemed to a tacit approval from others or at least indifference to the bullying..
Despite her very sloppy understanding of caste, she mentioned at least pushing back against assistants who were opposed to even including blue cushions in the frame and she could have been asked to expand on that. It might have been a good chance to unravel some things she didn't
have a chance/clarity to understand. The other men at the table didn't seem to make an effort to create a welcoming/inclusive atmosphere where a woman is allowed to make mistakes (and actually, that's a microcosm of the industry too). "Be perfect or don't exist" seems to be the
rule. Not sure how long it would take for the men to realise how oppressively sexist that very expectation is! Imagine, an industry that lets predators roam free, awards them and protects their careers seems to judge women before they get through their learning curve.. The likes
of Radha Ravi, Vairamuthu, Bakkiyaraj, K Rajan (+ several other has-beens) seem to routinely get a platform/opportunities to air their crass views while the likes of Arjun, Karthik (singer) continue to find work coming their way without male colleagues ganging up and rolling eyes
And then some of these men would go up on a stage and talk about "empowering women" to much applause. Honestly, despite his recurring disagreement with her views, Vetrimaaran gave the impression of someone who respected her as a person and a filmmaker. That respect was missing in
the others who treated her like a source of white noise at best. So, yes, Lakshmy Ramakrishnan needs some schooling (but that's the obvious takeaway). The less obvious lesson for all the men other than Vetrimaaran is that female participation requires your active effort & change
of culture. Your innate decency/chivalrous feeling will not translate into any meaningful support for women unless you recognise the distinct vibe of a woman-unfriendly atmosphere you exist in. Being a silent spectator won't do. Work at dismantling the patriarchal conditioning.
Recognise when you are not being helpful and introspect on how to change that. Perhaps fixing that culture might incidentally solve a lot of other problems that your industry is grappling with!

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