The Jodi of Andala Rakshasi is back with Lacchimdeviki O Lekkundi Written & Directed by Jagadish Talasila, Produced By Sai Prasad Kamneni and Music By MM Keeravaani. Staring : Naveen Chandra, Lavanya Tripathi and Ajay.
Black Panther empowers its women to go beyond token feminism but falls short of revolution
By Sharanya Gopinathan
The most enticing part of the Black Panther extended trailer was, for me, the fact that it sampled Gil Scott-Heron’s iconic 1970 protest poem and song, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Not exactly the most promising of genres on the social justice and anti-racism front, Black Panther was supposed to break the mould of superhero movies as we know them and show us what revolution in Hollywood could really look like: Black people in complex roles that see them representing and exploring characters, personalities and plot points beyond that of the hackneyed Black sidekick, roles that don’t kow-tow to a white gaze or points of reference, and that celebrate the complexity of Black identity in the USA today.
But what about the women?
I mean, there is reason to be anxious about how Black women would be portrayed in this movie about Black revolution. When feminist legal scholar Kimberle Crenshawe first coined the term ‘intersectionality’ back in 1989, she was referring to the unique oppression and struggles Black women face by the virtue of being both Black and female. She said that Black women faced oppression on a level that was different from the oppression faced by white women and Black males, since they had two separate forces of dis-privilege working against them, and had to break two barriers of sorts. This concept became a seminal part of critical race theory and teaches us that in order to really break down oppressive power structures, you need an intersectional approach to social justice that is concerned with the most marginalised of all, not one that liberates the most privileged of the oppressed first.
So, when I gleaned Black Panther’s revolutionary aspirations from its trailer, I was intrigued to see just how intersectional this revolution would be. The trailer promised to burn everything down to the ground and to start a new world afresh. But would a revolution for Black media, characters and imagery leave Black women behind?
Well, not very far behind, I guess.
Don’t get me wrong. Black Panther is incredibly enjoyable, and gets a lot of things very very right. It has got a complex plot that sees Black characters exploring tangled, confusing aspects of their identities, and Black women in powerful, impactful and emotive roles that they assume unquestioningly. It continually urges you to imagine alternatives to the white-supremacist world we live in, and shows you the possibility of amalgamating technology and ‘progress’ with cultural traditions that look different from white ones.
The country of Wakanda, which is where Black Panther takes place, is the mythical El Dorado that was presumed (by white folks) to be in South America for centuries but was, of course, in Africa all along. The Black Panther, or T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is the King of a Wakanda in flux.
The women in Wakanda, like the spy, warrior and object-of-Black-Panther’s affections Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), and Wakanda’s general and Black Panther’s ex Okoye (Danai Gurira) are used to being powerful, and having their opinions and wishes obeyed. They are completely at ease with their power, and are not playing the roles of ‘female’ spies and ‘female’ generals. The women of Wakanda naturally enjoy roles of power and prestige, and are not surprised or humbled by the very fact of occupying them. In the movie, they kick ass, save men and women alike and make complicated decisions about honour and allegiance that again, have nothing to do with either race nor gender.
Which is kind of what we keep asking for in movies: Women exploring difficult and emotive subjects that go beyond their stereotypical femininity and romantic inclinations, and that do not try to end the project of female empowerment at a mere sort of switcher of gender roles. In passing, we see the complexity and depth that women can bring to the table even casually in the everyday living of Wakandan life, like when Nakia stops T’Challa from killing an enemy who was held captive and trained since he was a child.
In Wakanda, sexism does not seem to be a thing: No one is objectified, abused, put down, belittled or questioned for being powerful and female. Even insults, like the one the head of the Jabari tribe threw at Wakanda’s tech-genius inventor princess Shiru, bypass femaleness and focus on her youth and inexperience instead.
Is it a false criticism, though, to watch a movie named Black Panther that was supposed to be the revolution, and wonder why a woman was not heading it? Is it too much to ask for a revolutionary movie’s highlight fight to include a woman instead of two brothers (yawn), for women to occupy roles outside of guards, Queen Mothers and spy-cum-love-interests?
It’s a weird place to be, as a brown woman who appreciated Black Panther’s racial politics. Black Panther does have more women in casually powerful and influential roles than most movies, and certainly most superhero movies, but this was supposed to be the revolution. We were supposed to burn it all to the ground and start afresh, to create a blueprint for a new kind of perfect. Black Panther comes tantalisingly close on many fronts but I think I will not be happy until I see a Black woman headlining a superhero movie that does not have the word ‘Black’ in its title.
The Ladies Finger (TLF) is a leading online women’s magazine.
Published Date: Feb 17, 2018 11:16 AM | Updated Date: Feb 17, 2018 11:29 AM
Robert Pattinson joins cast of William Dafoe’s fantasy horror film The Lighthouse
Actor Robert Pattinson has joined William Dafoe in fantasy horror film The Lighthouse.
Robert Eggers is directing the project from his own script, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The film, which is scheduled to go on floors this year, is set in the world of old sea-faring myths, taking place in Nova Scotia in the early 20th century and centering around an aging lighthouse keeper (Dafoe).
Rodrigo Teixeira and Lourenco Sant’ Anna will produce via their Brazil-based RT Features.
The project hails from A24, which recently worked with Pattinson on Good Time and Dafoe on The Florida Project.
Love Per Square Foot: Netflix’s Valentine’s Day gift to producers fed up of trade diktats, censorship
On Valentine’s Day, Netflix launched Love Per Square Foot, its first original film in Hindi. The love story, starring Angira Dhar-Vicky Kaushal is the first Indian film to premiere on the streaming service. While it will never be screened in cinema halls or on television, the Anand Tiwari film is available to over 100 million subscribers in 190 countries simultaneously on day one.
There is a lot to gain from releasing a film on a global over-the-top (OTT) video-streaming platform without a traditional theatrical. Ask your audience and they will tell you that it’s a win-win situation. Going to the movies is not cheap. Imagine paying over Rs 1000 for a family of four to watch an evening show of a new release. If you want to snack on popcorn, be prepared to fork over another Rs 1000. Amazon Prime Video’s monthly subscription is Rs 50 and Netflix’s starts at Rs 500 going up to Rs 800 a month. Would you sign up for that price if you knew you would get one exclusive blockbuster in Hindi on a monthly basis, never mind the world of content that is also available on demand?
One just needs to look westwards to see that things are moving in that direction. Netflix has already challenged Hollywood’s old ways of theatrical distribution and got everyone from distributors to theatre owners worried. The streaming powerhouse ended 2017 with the genre-bending cop drama Bright starring Will Smith. Directed by Suicide Squad’s David Ayer, the $90 million action thriller was panned by critics but was streamed 11 million times in its first three days as per Nielsen. A sequel to Netflix’s ‘first blockbuster’ is already in the works. Slated for a Netflix release in early 2019 is Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. The gangster film, starring Robert DeNiro has a budget of more $100 million.
Their large subscriber base in the West has allowed Netflix to take on mainstream Hollywood fare but it is still early days in markets like India. While on-the-go video consumption is on the rise, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix have approximately 1 million monthly active subscribers in India. They are a long way off from disrupting Bollywood but Love Per Square Foot is the first step in what could be a definitive new bucket of opportunity for filmmakers in this country.
If the global reach of these OTT platforms is what drives the economics behind their original content, it is that very reach which affords the largest advantage to filmmakers everywhere. In 2017, the platform released 50 original film titles from comedies to anime, foreign films and documentaries. These included the critically acclaimed Bong Joon-ho film Okja, Oscar nominated Mudbound and Angelina Jolie’s First They Killed My Father. In 2018, they plan to up this number to 80 films.
Today, any Indian film that is commissioned by Netflix starts with potential viewers in say Iceland or Peru that are not traditional markets for our films. For a filmmaker in India, this is liberating because it eliminates the fear of the box office and removes the constraints placed on them by a judgmental local trade or a draconian and overtly sensitive censor board. Ask any director who has been asked to add an item song in the past to get more shows or to delete a few scenes because they hurt someone’s sensibilities or sentiments.
It also reduces the dependency on A-list casts. Even if a small fraction of Netflix’s global subscriber base watches foreign content, you are talking of a new audience that is in millions. This is an audience who is consuming your content with no preconceived notions and giving it a fair chance. They do not care if the film stars Salman Khan or Sumeet Vyas.
Bypassing the big screen entirely has annoyed Hollywood biggies like James Cameron and Christopher Nolan. A believer in the sanctity of the theatrical experience, Nolan believed ‘a scenario in which movies and television become more similar elevates television but diminishes movies’. The Dunkirk director has, in the past, refused to work with Netflix and called its straight-to-subscriber model ‘mindless’. There will be naysayers in Bollywood as well but one cannot ignore this huge new opportunity for filmmakers and talent alike to showcase their skills and make content that they truly believe in.
Love Per Square Foot is Netflix’s Valentine gift to Bollywood. And filmmakers should seize the opportunity with both hands.
Published Date: Feb 17, 2018 11:52 AM | Updated Date: Feb 17, 2018 11:59 AM
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