The horror film Aval directed by Milind Rau and starring a brilliant Anisha Angelina Victor alongside Andrea Jeremiah and Siddharth released last week. I could go as far as being thankful to the film for saving me from the wife characters we have gotten so used to in Tamil Cinema. As recently as Chennai 600028 –2 and VIP–2 we were subject to snoopy or suspecting girlfriends and nagging or controlling wives whose partners are continuously whining about them. So Aval, with its refreshing re-showing of a couple that communicates and has a comic sense was a welcome change.
VIP-2 that came after its super hit prequel has an entire song dedicated to marriage making life love ‘less’ (in varied senses). It made me wonder, as it did everyone who watched the love bloom in the first movie how it got thrown out the window in the second. The song made it clear that marriage made all the difference. VIP-2 is hardly the first nor will it be the last movie to claim that all love is lost in a ‘love marriage’ after the marriage itself.
But Aval begins with the marriage, and shows us it all differently. In Andrea’s character Lakshmi, lays the gold. We are shown a woman who is rightfully anxious instead of an exaggerated nagging. Lakshmi reads, Lakshmi laughs it off when a teenager addresses her as ‘aunty’ and is secure about her relationship. More than anything else, we see a woman with a sense of humour.
“I haven’t bitten down on you that hard,” she tells her husband. In Siddharth’s character Krish there is the sensibility to not take a teenagers advances seriously.
He puts her in place politely and firmly. When a pregnant Lakshmi has a fall Krish is as worried about her as he is about the baby. In feeling equally about the love of his love and the seed of his loins, we are shown a man very new to Tamil cinema. I almost didn’t believe that Lakshmi didn’t get a good dose of ‘you almost lost MY baby’.
Through the movie we have a couple that’s deeply in love with each other. They fight and they snap, but like in real life we also see them make-up and move on. For good night and good news we see them kiss. When annoyed we see them say it straight up, we see conversations about uncomfortable issues instead of drunken whining at a TASMAC with a boy gang. When the man says ‘I need you’, we see them making love, and the scratches on his back.
If communication is key, we are shown a couple that follows this piece of advice inside and outside the bedroom. I wonder if the movie has an Adult rating because of its genre. If it were up to me, I’d have more kids watch Aval over U/A rated content that allows woman bashing, celebrates stalking, scores low on understanding consent, or sexualises and infantalises women.
The writer is a city-based activist, in-your-face feminist and a media glutton
(The writer is a city-based activist, in-your-face feminist and a media glutton)