South India is considered safer in comparison to North India which leads to assumption that people here respect females. But their movies speak a complete different stories. What is the reality, is it a mask which still is hanging on faces, and reality is same everywhere in India.
Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:
Hmm…this question got me thinking. And I am surprised at how quickly I was able to arrive at a possible explanation. So here’s my take on this. It may or may not be the best reasoning, but anyway…
Very generally speaking, south Indian states adhere to their culture very strongly. There is an overwhelming sense of pride or patriotism (or whatever you’d like to call it) towards their own culture that weighs a little bit more than what they (or we, rather) feel towards the nation as a whole.
When it comes to adherence to traditions, south India is quite ‘strict’. And anybody who shuns tradition is severely criticized. I have experienced this first hand during my four years of engineering in Tamil Nadu. Here’s an answer I wrote about this a while ago →
It is considered perfectly okay in south India for men to ‘correct’ a woman’s attire or external appearance if something looks wrong. And they do it quite happily too. This is viewed as a gesture of care and concern. The basic reason is that they do not mix cinema and real life. For them, the women on screen are there on screen for them to ogle at and think every possible lewd thought about. This does not apply for the women in their real lives. One of the most loved compliments for a woman in Tamil Nadu (I don’t know if this is used elsewhere) is when she gets compared to Goddess Lakshmi (‘Mahalakshmi maathiri irukkey!’) This is usually when she is dressed modestly and elegantly.
Regular women in south India do not dress in skimpy outfits or tight dresses as they show in their movies. It’s a cultural thing. So there is a marked difference between what people get to see on screen and what they get to see in real life. They are simply not able to make the connection. But in all probability, if a woman were to walk on the streets dressed like any of the item girls in south Indian movies (highly unlikely), she would be cat-called, eve-teased, etc. But normally dressed women are appreciated and respected.
Here is where the main difference between the way women are portrayed in Hindi cinema and in southern regional cinema comes in. In Bollywood, the actresses set fashion trends which then gets quickly followed by the common folk. If you see a ‘look’ in a new movie, the next day you’ll have shops selling dresses to get the same look that the actress had in the latest movie. So when men look around them ,what they see is several versions of the actress that they recently saw in the movie. And then you know what happens. Their minds start playing games and then you have all sorts of incidents. It’s mighty stupid, IMHO…but it’s the ugly reality, come to think of it.
This is not followed so much in south India. Yes, if an actress has worn a particular kind of saree all through the movie, maybe the saree gets popular. But if it’s anything that requires any amount of skin show, most women don’t even think about aping the look. For example, when Manju Warrier’s ‘How Old Are You?’ was released, her two colored cotton saree was a huge rage all over Kerala.
Ditto with Nayanthara’s look in ‘Puthiya Niyamam’. There are many such trend setting sarees that have gotten really popular. The ‘How Old Are You’ saree was an instant hit and women went out in droves to buy every variant of this saree. It’s quite simple really 🙂
Images: Google images
P.S.: This does not mean that all women in south India are completely safe. Dangers lurk everywhere. And they need not be a direct impact of cinema. That’s what I tried to convey.