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Of macho men and invisible women

The masculinity disaster which continues to tell the Indian man seen on display screen in 2022 has led to a reinforcement in stereotypes of the ‘ideal woman’

The masculinity disaster which continues to tell the Indian man seen on display screen in 2022 has led to a reinforcement in stereotypes of the ‘ideal woman’

Popular movies underneath the ‘pan-Indian’ class which have hit the screens in 2022 have given us a justifiable share of ferocious male leads. They all appear to be sporting beards, trying sharp and setting the requirements of being ‘ideal men’ all of the whereas working laborious to save lots of their nations, tribes and lands.

Fierce on-screen personas

Take for example, Ram (Ram Charan Teja) and Bhim (Junior NTR) from S.S. Rajamouli’s blockbuster RRR, who swing from bridges to save lots of a younger man caught in a burning river. Meanwhile, in Vikram, Kamal Haasan groups up along with his toddler grandson to eradicate drug use in India. Rocky Bhai defends his territory on the Kolar Gold Fields — preventing a number of enemies and arguing with a sceptical authorities — in KGF 2. Vijay in Beast makes an attempt to single-handedly take down terrorists who’ve highjacked a mall in Chennai, and The Kashmir Files has a number of men trying to make sense of why the Hindus of Kashmir left the State — all of the whereas preventing ruthlessly. These men appear to be in deep turmoil, consistently developing with options to guard not simply themselves and their households; they’re larger-than-life and must stay to ensure that others to outlive.

The women in these movies are busy too. They are sporting themselves skinny being the wives, moms, love-interests, family or neighbours of those men on display screen. They are ready to be rescued, craving to be acknowledged, to present beginning and to sacrifice themselves for a trigger that their men appear to have burdened them with, all of the whereas trying flawless, variety and selfless. Some additionally appear to be preventing for themselves, wishing and praying that they don’t get overshadowed by the lamps and chairs on display screen. Are filmmakers lastly gaining the momentum to place us in our place for our makes an attempt at feminism?

Common threads

Plenty of frequent traits appear to outline the men who’ve graced the Indian cinema halls this 12 months, a lot in order that it looks like the identical men are traversing storylines in numerous phases of their life. The depiction of those sturdy, patriarchal men on display screen shouldn’t be completely different from that of macho men over time. The constant portrayal this 12 months nonetheless appears to have solidified the probability of seeing extra such motion heroes.

The protagonists of films corresponding to KGF 2, Bheemla Nayak, Vikram,RRR, Samrat Prithviraj, Bachchan Pandey, Heropanti 2 and others are men who meet superb male magnificence requirements. They have chiselled chests prepared to face up to enemy blows and huge arms which are able to ship 10 dangerous men flying. They are additionally often armed with swanky weapons and insane intel that enables them to function in stealthy methods. Even an toddler in a film like Vikram is burdened with the load of surviving a gun battle in opposition to goons who run a large prison drug mafia. The characters appear sturdy willed, variety, resolute and phlegmatic, dropping their mood solely when a simply trigger calls for their consideration. They are additionally extremely fashionable of their communities.

They often worship their moms and playfully have interaction with their love-interests, placing them down whereas making jokes and utilizing them as props whereas preventing enemies. In movies like RRR and KGF: Chapter 2, Sita and Shantamma are respectable women who not solely handle their households within the absence of the men , in addition they try to supply energy and heat phrases of luck to their husbands and sons. They are keen to sacrifice themselves within the line of fireplace however would somewhat accomplish that on command. In Vikram too, Agent Tina who appears to have followers wanting sequels, fights goons who threaten her commander’s family with forks — kitchen devices — somewhat than utilizing weapons which the men use within the movie.

The women in these movies lose their personhood as they’re solely extensions of the hero, deeply tied to him and his trigger. The movies themselves too lose all possibilities of passing variety assessments just like the Bechdel take a look at and the Sexy Lamp Test, set in place to appraise the variety on display screen.

A disaster of masculinity

Economist and writer of critically acclaimed guide Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh, Shrayana Bhattacharya, says that she has seen a shift in male illustration, making them hypermasculine, submit demonetisation. She says that it is usually across the time that movies like Baahubali and Simba began gaining recognition. “I call it the Thor-ification of men,” she says. “Anytime the economic system is unstable, men’s jobs turn into unstable as 80% of the labour market is male. This is after they look to sublimate, by seeing men preventing the nice battle for nation and faith. This is a pattern that’s rising with time.”

In a paper written titled ‘Manifestations of Masculinity in Crisis: The Noir Films of Humphrey Bogart’ by Jason Marzini for Rhode Island College, Marzini says that Bogart is often classified as the man’s man of the 1920s. He says that Bogart’s persona and various representations of masculinity remain iconic and have been replicated till date, informing contemporary notions of the ideal male. The researcher argues that films like those of Bogart gain momentum when there is a crisis of masculinity. He adds that his films have been used as ‘vehicles of representation through which the unconscious anxieties of the American male during the wartime and post-war eras have been revealed as increasingly transgressive and desperate’.

The ‘ideal woman’

This disaster which continues to tell the general public of Indian men seen on display screen in 2022 has inadvertently led to a reinforcement of stereotypes of the ‘ideal woman’: one who should handle these macho men. The women are hardly ever given selections in these movies and are pressured to take care of the implications of male clashes. They haven’t any personalities of their very own and can hardly ever be seen collaborating in leisurely actions for themselves. Verbal and sexual abuse in opposition to them is normalised. Even the women who’re applauded are recognised by their capability to deal with conditions like men.

Shrayana says that regardless of proof suggesting that the rise of the ‘Thor-ification’ of men is because of an financial disaster, it’s possible that the hypermasculine hero will stay on display screen. She says that movies like Jayeshbhai Jordhar which was additionally launched in 2022 noticed actor Ranveer Singh taking part in a ‘beta male,’ one who was not making an attempt to be a saviour. “This film is really enjoyable but has not seemingly done well (collection-wise). This doesn’t surprise me as gender-friendly scripts are going to to dominate a small bubble on OTT platforms only consumed by liberal women who have jobs and men who support them. Those too are a minority,” she says. The relaxation will possible devour the strong-men trope.

It is simple that these strong-men movies are entertaining. The gun battles, punchlines, jabs and gritty plot traces which showcase laborious work behind the triumph of heroes over villains, someway appeals to a primitive human intuition that simply desires to win. The price we pay finally ends up being the women who’ve been left behind.


Popular movies underneath the ‘pan-Indian’ class which have hit the screens in 2022 have given us a justifiable share of ferocious male leads. Most of them be it KGF 2 or Vikram orRRR all appear to be setting the requirements of being the ‘ideal man’.

However, the women in these movies are seen as mere extensions of the hero, deeply tied to him and his trigger. They are ready to be rescued and craving to be acknowledged.

There is proof suggesting that the rise of the hypermasculine hero is carefully linked to a disaster in economic system. As 80% of the labour pressure is male, a disaster of jobs makes one look as much as pictures of macho men saving each nation and faith.

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