Gargi: A side effect of complex simplicity
gargi 2022 review
Star Cast: Sai Pallavi, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Kaali Venkat, Jayaprakash, RS Shivaji and Livingston
Music Composed by Govind Vasantha
Cinematography by Sraiyanti Premkrishna Akkattu
Edited by Shafique Mohamed Ali
Directed by Gautham Ramachandran
We have voices in our heads that keep giving us different scenarios while we try to solve a problem or whenever we try something new. At times, we are saying that we are overthinking and complicating a simple situation in our head by trying to think from different angles. This kind of habit is bad when we miss the solution that is in front of our eyes but this habit helps us when we want to really understand the details hidden between the lines. When the assistant of a big Lawyer takes the case and says that he is trying to think from all angles before giving the first argument, Gargi says think from one point-of-view and my point-of-view, that is enough.
This movie tries hard to find a different point of view in a regular situation. Sadly, these days rapes, sexual harassment, and that too child abuse has become a very familiar thing. When someone alleges that such a heinous crime has been done by a person who normally trusts as a person in our home, many tend to first defend the accused. This is what Gargi’s point of view is all about. The movie says to look at things from all possible and probable angles to understand them rather than jumping to a judgment. Yet, the climax thought that this movie gives out as a message kills that growth. Gargi tries to defend, fight, depend on, and draw strength from men in her life. In their absence, she has fought hard and tried to bring the main pillar back. By the climax, she thinks she doesn’t need men in her life even though she feels sad about losing out on love.
Balachander said this point way back in the 1970s in his movie Anthuleni Katha / Aval Oru Thodar Kathai. The protagonist tries hard to become “The Man” of the house and expresses disgust in trying to become one. Hopes to find a way out of it but then circumstances push her into it. When you see Balu Mahendra’s Moondram Pirai / Sadma, you definitely feel for Kamal Haasan’s character but when you think from Sri Devi’s point of view, she had a life before he came into her’s and when she got back her memories, she had to go back to it, rather than staying with a stranger. Taking this situation and saying, girls leave you no matter whatever you do, hence you should learn to live without women, would that be the right thought process? Taking the protagonist from Anthuleni Katha, can we say a girl should never fall in love or never look to find someone from the opposite sex and develop love towards people of same-sex or binary or fluid?
Now, take Bapu’s Muthyala Muggu, and Gorantha Deepam films. Both discuss a man creating a situation in which a woman appears to have been trapped and cheating. Women take strong decisions to live on their own yet they don’t antagonise every male they see. In K. Viswanath‘s Sankarabharanam, Shankara Sastry never claims to have helped a girl who got raped and who murdered her rapist. He treats her as his daughter and asks her to help his real daughter with cooking and household work. She walks out of his home/life when people start talking about their relationship in the wrong way. She walks away because she becomes pregnant too, she doesn’t want people to think her child is due to Shankara Sastry, her illicit relationship as they keep gossiping. Should we call husbands from Bapu films and this woman from Vishwanath’s film backward thinkers and bad people? Should we end up saying that they are the problem for society?
Gargi ends with such a thought process. The end message that Aishwarya Lekshmi character gives to a young girl who hits puberty sums up the thought process of the director that women cannot depend on men. At the same time, shows a man helping the family, shows a father who appears as a monster who comes to kill Gargi’s accused father leaving the man and then continuing his friendship with Gargi even though she used his emotional outburst in court to save her father, just for her daughter. Then shows a fiance who leaves Gargi after her decision to fight for her father and then sends him to jail when she gets to know the entire truth. So, when he wants to balance between different types of men in society then women should be self-dependent, self-sufficient and at the same time, they shouldn’t end up hating men.
Rama as husband killed Ravana and saved his wife, Sita. Then told her that she is free to live her life but not with him. He did not ask her to prove her “innocence” or “love” or “purity”. He told her that as his Raghuvansha/ Surya Vamsa kings have earned name before him, and lived by principles he cannot cross that boundary for her. He told her she cannot be his Queen if he becomes King. As he cannot let his brother die and let her mother(s) live with guilt, and pain, he asked Sita to live her life as she wishes. It is Sita who decides to kill herself, rather than living a life in which she won’t be spending it with her love, and then she has to carry this “allegation/accusation” of being “spoilt/impure” for life. So, she decides to kill herself. Rama doesn’t stop her. But everyone around him says what’s happening is wrong. Hanuman asks Rama to change his decision. Now, in some versions fire doesn’t burn her and everyone praises her purity. As she proved her “purity”, everyone literally forces Rama to accept her. Rama gives in for his love. Then, in some other versions, Fire God (Agni) appears gives “real” Sita to Rama, and takes back “Vaidehi” with him. Rama promises to marry her in a later birth as “Padmavati”. Rama, in all versions, as King leaves pregnant Sita when he gets to know that people still have doubts about “purity”. He requests his brothers to take the responsibility of the crown and let him go away to the forests with his pregnant wife as he doesn’t, even for a second, lose trust on Sita, not when she came to him after the war with Ravana and not even today. But as a King he cannot let people talk about the Queen like that and taking action against a citizen for having an uninformed opinion is not fair on a King. He opines that as a King, if someone, anyone in his Kingdom has an uninformed opinion about anything then he failed as their leader. Hence, he either has to win their trust by doing what they wish he should be doing or give up on his job as a King, leave it, and accept that he failed to inform the public, the truth about their Queen and change their purview. All this is written by Valmiki, not by me… Many directors and versions have changed this to suit them/their opinions. Some even questioned why should Lord Vishnu have to sleep and Devi Lakshmi press his legs. According to Mythology, Vishnu mediates by going into “Yoga nidra” which means in his sleep, he meditates to radiate positive energy as King of the Universe. In “yoga nidra” he almost loses control on his body and his body becomes cold for sleeping so long hence Lakshmi tries to keep his body warm with her touch. And in the story of Lord Venkateswara, Rushi Bhrigu hits Vishnu on the left side of his chest. Lakshmi doesn’t appreciate his behavior as it is “her place”. She later understands that Vishnu’s heart will always belong to her and no one can replace her. Vishnu doesn’t shout at her, doesn’t ask her to stay quiet as he is dealing with things, doesn’t treat her as “lady”, and doesn’t try to bring her importance in his life down. As she leaves him, he decides to prove her importance in his life by accepting to lead as a person with no money. Being a man who created the universe, with the power he can control anything. He doesn’t. He can try to restrict Lakshmi but he doesn’t. Not because she is Devi Lakshmi, but because she is equal to him.
If someone doesn’t look at these stories that I mentioned in the same vein as I did, is it my fault for explaining my view as I see it with proper words to the best of my abilities? Or are people who have read till here, is it their issue that they did not understand what my point is? It is both. Maybe I am not equipped enough with the skills to tell my thoughts or opinions in a way that everyone understands. Or it could be an opinion to “high end” that whatever I say, some people will never get it, as they won’t change their purview ever. What should my point of view be? In Gargi director’s point of view, I should say every person who doesn’t get what I said is the problem, and going a step ahead every reader, no no readers are the problem.
Laced with intricacies to show how her father won her trust, the director unknowingly creates sympathy for the character whom we should hate. Even if we watch it from her point of view, her distraught should be the audience’s distraught. It is not every male’s reaction, a man of the same age drunk to the core doesn’t commit the mistake but a man with immaculate wisdom and who hit out a predator from his daughter’s life committed the crime. The hate that he received in starting frames is right and then the sympathy travel that Gargi’s point of view which becomes the story is wrong. The twisted ending makes it a thriller but the director wanted to show the change in point of view of Gargi. She should have run away from that house. She stayed back. She fought and showed people that she is right and chooses only the right thing to do. But then did she needs to lose “trust” in men? She doesn’t on Lawyers. While if she did or not is left to us, the message that the director delivers with Aishwarya Lekshmi character kills the film. The perspective of Gargi changing also doesn’t convince us completely. As we keep asking one question, if the man accepted the punishment, and when he should get ultimately punished then only for Gargi’s purview did we need 2 hours of drama? There are many subversions of common perspective but this movie seems to have been made just to subvert rather than tell a story from the point of view of the protagonist. Men and Women are equal. Once the world understands and respects this, rapes and harassment will be limited to perverts. But showing a pervert and claiming every man is the same, kills the discussion forever. Gargi’s POV had to widen from just finding strength by lying on her father’s shoulder. But for that, she cannot let another girl get “advice” to just see “every man as a predator”. There are hints from the director to not leave the POV approach, he could have cut away to Father’s face in starting 20 minutes when Gargi feels restless to find him. We get to see his full face only when Gargi gets to see him. She doesn’t sit beside her father when going to the police station for signing. She stops nagging with her sister, this part needed a scene but we get a dialogue mentioned. She asks her mother to trust her as she does if she had been male but then she treats her sister like how her mother treats her or doesn’t treat her. We are shown most of the starting frames of a shot at people’s feet, Gargi feels the weight on her shoulders, her point of view cannot be straight looking into someone’s eye. But then when taking her father home from court, she looks only at the sky. She feels light, like a bird she wants to fly. When she takes a decision to not leave even when her father presses to leave, she has become really independent, when she chose her father over love, and fight over cowardice, she gained strength. When you write this well, and show these many points subtly then why kill it all with such a narrow view? Gargi is like that Golden Goose which got killed before it could “really” deliver an egg because the owner now thought Goose should not go through the pain of delivering an egg. Yes, this movie’s climax made it look that silly… Performances-wise, technicalities wise there are no issues. For the budget, for the lack of experience (that did show), for the efforts, this movie team can be applauded but the writing which really makes the film, kills it like that snake that eats its own eggs after laying them due to hunger that makes it blind, here the hunger to oversell made the team blind to the problems in writing.
Theatrical Trailer: gargi 2022 review