Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d be aware of the brilliant short film “Lakshmi” that has been getting trolled and dragged down by social media pages. Let’s dissect the drama and the incoherent abuse thrown at it.
The film is about a woman who is stuck in a typical Indian middle class marriage- an abusive husband who cheats on his wife, a kid, the absolute necessity to work because, well, financial reasons, and a maddening monotony. The woman, frustrated and so very done with life, makes a choice and indulges herself for a few minutes- and the indulgence is of a sexual nature.
The arguments (if you can call them that) against the film are that Lakshmi did it for revenge. That sex is not the only way out of the situation. Perhaps she should have walked out of the marriage. Maybe she should have been ‘independent’ like in the “woman empowerment” movies. Etcetera Etcetera.
I just have one question for people speaking about how better the situation could’ve been handled- “Why do you feel the need to push your life choices onto someone?”
Now, before you hit me with the “It is just a movie, don’t take it seriously” comment, let me state that movies and books, especially ones like these are meant to be discussed. They put forth valid points and can be enriching learning experiences if one shakes off their affinity towards their existing beliefs.
Now, back to the discussion. We’ve all made bad choices in life. Either due to irrationality or due to sheer desperation, we’ve fucked up and come past it. And most importantly, each one of us has a different moral compass. What may be right for you may not be right for me. It is impossible to objectively decide whether an action is good or not.
Furthermore, Lakshmis aren’t a rare species. In India, they are everywhere, silently suffering and toiling hard. They have accepted and resigned to their fates and only hope that their next birth would treat them better. Eventually, one free soul breaks out, seeks happiness for a brief window of time- before she gets back into the cocoon she is so tightly encased in. The Lakshmi in the movie is one such beautiful human.
She happened to feel that bliss in someone that listened to her. Someone who made her feel accepted and beautiful, who quoted Bharathiyar, and unlike her husband, actually made her feel like she existed.
The validation and the rush that comes with being paid attention to is a feeling common to every person. I am sure no one reading this can deny that they’ve been insanely attracted to an intellectual (pseudo-intellectual?) person who quoted their favourite poems/books and said sweet things to them. We’ve all been there, guys. We’re all just a bunch of support seeking, normal human beings.
Lakshmi is a woman went through the very same experience. Having sex with a stranger is the superficial and overhyped aspect of the issue. The act stems from being abused and exploited for years.
The second and the most important aspect is, it was Lakshmi’s damn choice. Regardless of the reason, Lakshmi, a woman, is entitled to do whatever she wants. Why the fuck does one care about morality? It isn’t even an issue, considering morality is just subjective as mentioned before. Seriously, it isn’t even surprising to see so much piss boiled at a woman making a choice for herself; so many men intimidated by a woman having some harmless sex. Don’t use “culture” as a shield to protect your privilege, y’all. Grow the fuck up.
Lastly, we should remember that such commotion has arisen only because it was sex. We have had lots of films like English Vinglish and 36 Vayadhinile where the husband abuses the wife and flirts with other women, but in these movies, the woman always takes education or a noble cause as her weapon to reform her husband- and in the end, her husband and his family magically realise their mistakes and they all happily live ever after. In real life though, patriarchy and toxic masculinity are deeply ingrained. It has pervaded every fabric of the society through several decades and oftentimes, even a lifetime of constant education is not enough to change a person holding such ideas. Hence, such films are supposed to be used as a coping mechanism when you lose all faith in humanity, after which they should be set aside, and films like Lakshmi should be made and praised to hopefully bring at least a fraction of the desired utopian change.
I am not even going to start on how no one spoke about how her husband treated his wife or how he cheated on her. Such double standards have apparently become the norm now and no matter how well put those arguments are, they always come across as too feminist.
Well, I only hope that a day will come when common sense will be as common as it should be.