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I recently spent four hours and Rs 120 watching Gone with the wind in installments on YouTube. The Hollywood cult classic that enjoyed great eminence in the yesteryears is now literally a fugitive, as it’s fast disappearing from the public eye.

HBO Max has removed the movie from its catalog, and YouTube that currently streams the movie for rent places a heavily apologetic prelude about its offensively racist content.

Supposedly, the movie didn’t open originally without heavy protests from both the African American community and abolitionists all over America. However, the producers, (all white) who went to great lengths getting the teeniest technical detail about it and the Southern accent accurate for the period film, did not bother in the least about hurting the sentiments of millions of African Americans. They were livid about the romantic portrayal of happy black slaves in the movie, and, who despite mistreatment, were shown to live and die for the cause of their white masters.

Needless to say, despite the irresistible romance between the lead characters, iconic visuals, and engaging performances, the movie has incrementally failed with the contemporary American audience, and has been labelled unfit for consumption.

Picking the most iconic scenes of Mouna Ragam, Urban Nakkalites’ spoof recreated them with hard-hitting and acerbic dialogs, that left watchers in peals of laughter but awakened them with a jolt to revisit marital rape, lack of consent, male gaze, and emotional blackmail that were most glorified and romanticized in the movie.

Drawing parallels with Tamil movies, we find that there’s not one but a horde of outdated Tamil movies — not just the mindless masala, but even the ones that were critically acclaimed and held with esteem by Tamils — are fast getting brutally trolled and shelved, thanks to social awareness, wokeness, and feminism.

‘Mouna Raagam’ (1986) by Mani Ratnam for instance, was nothing short of a cult classic and remained close to Tamils’ hearts as one of the most romantic movies ever made. Men and women were both equally in awe of the female lead Divya for her charm and quirky disposition, and loved both the vivacious Manohar, her lover, as well as the ‘gentlemanly’ Chandrakumar, her husband, played by Karthik and Mohan, respectively.

Not anymore.

Sometime ago, Urban Nakkalites, a Youtube channel came up with a brilliant spoof of Mouna Ragam (The silent melody) titled “Mouna Roagam” meaning “The silent disease” that unpacked Mouna Raagam of all the toxicity it held.

Picking the most iconic scenes of the original, the spoof recreated them with hard-hitting and acerbic dialogs, that left watchers in peals of laughter but awakened them with a jolt to revisit marital rape, lack of consent, male gaze, and emotional blackmail that were most glorified and romanticized in the movie. “It doesn’t matter that I have foolishly married you when you’re in love with another; all that matters to me is that you haven’t lost your virginity.”

It was a spectacular hit and has about 3 million views on YouTube till date. The comments section is filled with 99% positive reviews from people who initially had misgivings but how they’ve come to understand how problematic and toxic the original was.

Just like how Gone with the Wind loved to paint a picture of happy black slaves, romantic tamil movies like Mouna Raagam have always tried to create the picture of a gentleman husband and happily tamed wife, capitalizing on the internalized misogyny in the society.

Samsaram Adhu Minsaram by Visu is another hugely popular movie which was even remade into several Indian languages. This movie not only romanticized everything misogynistic, but upheld all the regressive values of caste in the Indian family system.

It’s interesting to note that Tambrahm directors like Visu, Mani Ratnam, and latter day Balachander never made any movies about Tamil brahmin families, which are supposedly way different from other Tamils, but only about the Shudra castes mudaliyar, pillai, or chettiyar, portraying them in a very flattering light. The characters were again played by brahmin actors. For example, Gemini Ganesan, a brahmin, plays “Bilahari Marthandam Pillai” in Unnal Mudiyum Thambi. But it’s still the old wine in a newly labelled bottle, as the character is intrinsically casteist and brahminical.

Samsaram Adhu Minsaram by Visu is another hugely popular movie which was even remade into several Indian languages. This movie not only romanticized everything misogynistic, but upheld all the regressive values of caste in the Indian family system.

This was a very effective technique in massaging the latters’ nerves into thinking that they were akin to brahmins, but all the while they were speaking the voice of the brahmin.

Brahminical thoughts and ideas were carried to the Tamil caste Hindu audience via similar characters, but played and scripted by the brahmin.

Samsaram Adhu Minsaram had heavy implications that Christians, in order to be likeable, should always hold Hindus and Hindu traditions in a higher esteem than they hold their own. Also, though they are richer and are of a higher financial and social standing, they shall be meek and submissive in front of the caste Hindu, whose “honor” supposedly carries more value.

The movie was also guilty of portraying educated, opinionated, and independent women in a very bad light and the uneducated and submissive ‘doormat’ women as the efficient torchbearers of patriarchy, which is something the movie got right.

The award-winning movie with a cult status for years, is now nothing more than a ridiculously funny meme repository.

While it’s important to remember history as it happened, it’s also equally important to allow some of its icons to be gone with the wind, once it becomes clear what skewed values they hold, no matter how close we may have held them to heart.

(Deepalakshmi J is a published translator and writer)

(Tamil version is translated by Mariappan)


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