Oruvanukku-Oruththi-_-A-Man-For-A-Woman

Director: Vimal Santiagu

Cast: Regin Rose, Tamilarasi Anandhavalli

Two persistent Tamil mothers are desperate to get their children married- a son of 30, and a daughter of 25 respectively. They convince them to meet and discuss a potential arranged marriage. The man identifies as a bisexual, and the woman is gender-fluid, attracted only to women. (For the purposes of this review, we will use the pronoun ‘she’, as she is female presenting and through the course of the film does not raise objections about it) Their parents know none of this. The man asks to speak to her alone for some time. The mothers, initially hesitant, acquiesce. This film and its characters unfold in the aftermath.

This Tamil short film does a few very interesting things. 

First, it invisibilizes all other characters. In the film, you do not get to see any other character, other than the two main protagonists. The respective mothers too, are only heard, not seen. Thus, in the decluttered space, the characters are given the opportunity to be nuanced, awkward, longing, curious, forthright, and most of all, unfenced. 

What I worry about is in pursuit of deeper, more problematic, and nuanced queer characters, what if we forsake the straight people? Of what use is this revenge? Can cinema not have space for all- the ‘mainstream’, and the ‘deviants’? 

I loved this. In most queer love stories, the source of conflict is the sexuality, or the gender. Here the conflict is the mother figure; what is caricatured are the mothers. Their singular determination to get their child married is the only character trait given. Their snarky desperation, like all stereotypes, rings as a half-truth. As a result, you do not see them as breathing characters, but that is okay, this is film is not about them. What I worry about is in pursuit of deeper, more problematic, and nuanced queer characters, what if we forsake the straight people? Of what use is this revenge? Can cinema not have space for all- the ‘mainstream’, and the ‘deviants’? 

Second, in a country where most people operate under the assumption that the queer community is sparse, few and far between, indeed even our Supreme Court in 2013 decided that queer folks are too minuscule a minority to upheaval laws for, it is refreshing to have not one but two queer characters as the only protagonists that populate the screen.

Misconceptions too are dealt with. Not all bisexual people are promiscuous. Gender, sex and sexuality are all very different concepts. When she tells him of a relationship she had with a girl in college, he concludes that she must be a lesbian or bisexual. She asks him to wait, to let her finish. She goes on to state that she is confused- sometimes she feels like a man, sometimes like a woman. This is not about the gender of whom she is attracted to (sexuality), it is about what she identifies as(gender). 

The singular despair for queer people are the rigid structures that throttle love.  

When the man speaks of his past male lover, it is heartfelt. Oftentimes queer folks are told to find peace in less turbulent environments- to bleed into the West. Some choose to stay, some choose to flow away. This is not about which is right or wrong, but the heartache that ensues. When the woman speaks of her past lover, now married, attempting to kiss her, it is not just anger, but also pain that brims. The singular despair for queer people are the rigid structures that throttle love.  

Oruvanukku-Oruththi-_-A-Man-For-A-Woman

The acting is superlative. Both Regin and Tamilarasi begin as portraits of despair, he willing, and she unwilling to pursue this setup. The beating hearts pulsate, the silence between them too noisy, and the rustle of the leaves in the breeze outside discomforting. The credits roll, but the question lingers, will the steadfast hearts merge? 

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