The misogyny of masala – Wanted!

It is hard to come out of Wanted and say you were bored. But as a woman, it is hard to come out and say I liked the film. At some level the film made me cringe and weep a little inside, because what Wanted will spawn is more films with creepy guys who use power to stalk unprotected women, and use assault and torture of women as a weapon in power games. This harkens back to the crude masala films of the 70s and 80s, when the villain always got to rape the sister of the hero, and then the hero went on a revenge rampage. The leading woman was a shrinking violet who wept and wrung her hands in despair, and said “Bhagwaan ke liye mujhe jaane do!” Until I saw Wanted, I had forgotten how much I disliked such films in the past.

So the entire track with Ayesha Takia always needing to be rescued, from the bad cop Mahesh Manjrekar, the goons on a train, the goons in her house; the police commissioner’s kidnapped daughter and the assault upon assault sequences implied; the mother of the leading lady harassed daily by the corrupt cop, such sequences were truly throwbacks in the film, and I have no doubt that Wanted owes much of its single screen appeal to the many such instances.

Of course the heavy dollop of action helps, and here I cannot fault the film, the sequences are slick, fast-paced and ultra violent, which is what the film promised. The dialogs are full of punch and Salman delivers them with verve and ishtyle. The baddies are bad and really bad, but none are caricatures (like we saw in Ghajini). Mahesh Manjrekar and Prakash Raj are the perfect villains, one creepy and perverted, the other funny and stylish. Govind Namdeo excels as usual. Ayesha is wasted other than in the Aanrkali sequences – what a looker this girl is. The comedy track is mostly unfunny and every song is thrust in to hamper the pace of the film. But still Salman manages to salvage the film and to carry it on his shoulders. This will be a well deserved hit for him, but because of the strong misogynistic content I think the women and families will stay away. This is where Ghajini won, the woman was shown to be strong, the other one a helper of the hero, and the plot was revenge driven over a killing the audience came to care about. This managed to engage the family crowd and violence keep the single screen viewers engaged. While I was much more entertained by Wanted, at the purely brainless level, I think I prefer my masala to not be so offensive to women. Better still, stop this mindless bash em up, shoot em up, and make some real films that do not go back to the decades past.

2 Responses

  1. Normally the villain would try to rape the hereoine in a masala movie but then the hero has to come and rescue her. The heroine has to be ‘pavitra’ for the hero. She can die but has to be pavitra. Thats the reason why Asin is not raped in Ghajini. Muragadoss removed the raped part from Memento because the Indian audience cannot accept that.

    whereas sister usually gets raped and killed and the hero takes revenge.

  2. Very true, sputnik. And that is why Ghajini appealed more to all sections of the audience.

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