You know the White Saviour Trope in Hollywood—when a white male swoops in to protect people of colour while achieving an epiphany? In the Indian context, we have our parallel to the ‘male saviour’ trope. We have seen this so many times, across formats. Even if a woman character were skilled, a man always steps in to ‘save the day’ at the same thing she is more equipped in. Remember when Vijay steps beside Andrea in Master to fire an arrow? Or Chakra, where despite being a police officer herself, Gayathri (Shraddha Srinath) needs Chandru (Vishal) to ‘save her’?
What connects Akshay Kumar’s Mission Mangal and Ajith’s Nerkonda Paarvai? Both stories are about women but told and headlined by a man. Both films were criticised for the same, for the film’s posters prominently showcasing Ajith and Akshay more than the women the films were about. Mission Mangal, in fact, had Vidya Balan, Taapsee, Sonakshi Sinha, Nithya Menen, and Kirti Kulhari, and yet, was branded an Akshay Kumar film. Taapsee had an interesting response to this. In a recent interview, she asked whether the audience would be willing to pay as much for these female actors, as they did for an Akshay Kumar film?
I have to confess that Nerkonda Paarvai was a remake that I was apprehensive about. Pink was a powerful film that spoke about the importance of consent, simultaneously calling out the double standards society has set for women. It had Taapsee and Amitabh Bachchan but wasn’t a star vehicle, if you know what I mean. Placing Ajith, one of Kollywood’s biggest stars, in a film like this brought several questions. Will the core of Pink be diluted to accommodate the commercial expectations of Ajith’s fans? Will the spotlight shift from what is being said to who is saying it, ie the star? Continue reading “Nerkonda Paarvai review: Ajith headlines this necessary and important remake”