I happened to see a Facebook review from someone of a new Malayalam movie called ‘June’. I hadn’t heard of this movie until then and even now it’s not the movie I am going to write about. Two points that this person (a girl (woman?) of my age actually) wrote in this review made me realize how so unbelievably ancient our mindset still is. No, I am not blaming her for writing it out; it is her personal opinion and she has every right to talk about it. That is why I didn’t comment on that post because there is no reason I should directly question her for having her opinion or have her explain it to anyone. But these two points she raised definitely were food for thought and represented the general perspective of a large section of our society even today.

1) Having the heroine, June’s ex-boyfriends and husband together (I’m assuming that she meant they all share an amicable relationship) is UNREALISTIC.

I was in a serious relationship when I was doing my MBA. Hari was, in fact, the mutual best friend who played the role of a moderator in our relationship. After 3 years of being together we ended the relationship because we knew for sure that a happily-ever-after was not on the cards. It was a mutual and mature decision that still broke our hearts and took time to get over. But we stayed friends even after that, genuinely happy for each other whenever something good came along for either one of us. Years later, Hari and I moved one tier up from being best friends and got married. Hari is still very close to my ex. And his wife, who was completely new to our gang, has been a gem of a lady too in never having any insecurity about having me around. There has never been a single awkward moment in any of the get-togethers or trips we all have been a part of.

I understand that it is pretty difficult for most people to accept this and I always face the question “How do you do that?” I know that a lot of relationships end on a bitter note and let alone being friends, staying in touch with your ex seems to be an impossible thing. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Because unless you ended a relationship for grave reasons that affected you to the core and made your life miserable beyond redemption, you need to remember the fact that this was a person who was an important part of your life once and gave you a lot of happy memories. Towards the end of our relationship there was a lot of crying and fighting for reasons that paved the way to a break-up. But I never forgot the fact that while there were things I couldn’t handle as his partner, he was a good person – he is a good person. In fact, every time I think of him, the first memory that crosses my mind is how he ran across a busy street to help a blind man who was stuck on the other side to cross the street. I still remember the kindness in his eyes and the sincerity in his smile as he held the hands of the other man and walked him across the street. I am not going to ignore that and a hundred other good things about him only because we had genuine reasons for not staying together. I have also admired Hari and my ex’s wife for being strong, secure people who do not need to worry about a past relationship their partners had.

So yeah, although not very common, having your ex and your husband/current boyfriend together at a place is not unrealistic. It just needs all of you to be mature and secure with yourselves and have the ability to see inherent good in others and treasure your good memories together.

2) The heroine wearing white wedding gown that symbolizes purity and virginity reflects today’s reality of many becoming brides without actually deserving it.

This really made me go “OMG!” I was curbing that “OMG!” even when I read about how irritating it was for her to see the heroine who drinks and sleeps with her boyfriend, portrayed as her parents’ sweet, innocent girl. But with this climax of lashing out completely on our heroine’s character, I just couldn’t curb it anymore. I mean, seriously? “Deserving to be a bride?” I never knew there was a set list of requirements to be met before one ‘qualified’ to be a bride. And despite not drinking and having most part of my virginity intact, I’m sure I would have flunked the test. So should I now offer an unconditional apology for becoming a bride ‘without deserving to be one’ and take remedial actions? Oh sweet God! It’s funny and I can only laugh at this folly. But it’s also scary at the same time.

She goes on to say how Kanchana, the heroine in another Malayalam movie (based on a real-life couple) was the kind of woman who deserved to be a bride, not June. This must have been because she waited for her lover a very long time and continued living for him even after his death, before they could get married. I do agree that it was a wonderful love story and the real-life Kanchana is an amazing woman. But that wouldn’t make any other woman any less ‘deserving’ of being a bride. All that matters is whether a woman and her partner want to get married to each other.

By depicting our heroine as a ‘loose woman’ of no moral standards, one who shouldn’t even be considered her parents’ sweet darling due to her ‘crimes’ of drinking and sleeping with her boyfriend, the author of this review is echoing the deeply misogynistic mindset that a huge majority of our population, irrespective of gender, still holds close to their hearts. “She drinks? She can be taken on a ride then.” “She has slept with her boyfriend? She must be available for other men too.” “She is not a virgin? She is impure and unworthy.” We are almost two decades into the 21st century and sadly, these are the beliefs that we still embrace. And when a woman herself goes ahead and advocates this, it shows how absolutely hopeless the future is for women.

There are so many women like her to be honest. In the last few days the number of women I have seen sharing a post from a Malayalam actor and director named Balachandra Menon with a lengthy sermon on how women should remain women by being coy is proof of how a lot of women will happily accept a chance to be judgmental of other women who choose to live life on their own terms. The most hilarious part of this was that he chose to begin the sermon with the statement that all his movies are testimonials of his strong belief in gender equality. This, coming from a man whose every movie was a study class on how women are always beneath men and how any woman who dares to speak up should be given one tight slap and shown her place. Oh, and yeah, when you move from being an arrogant bitch to an obedient wife, you stop wearing Western clothes and stick to ‘saree’. Sadly, a huge section of our women love to believe this and crucify any other woman, real or fictional, who doesn’t stick to these norms.

God save our ‘June’s!