First Take: Vazhthugal (2008)

In Vazhthugal (2008), director Seeman seeks an interface between ‘modernity’ and ‘tradition’. Contemporary Urban India is struggling to balance between “social disruptions” and “cultural demands”. It is highly commendable that he deals with themes such as responsibilty of children towards their aging parents, social values, the significance of a supportive family and the importance of adoring one’s language and culture.

However, despite its potrayal of a good story, with a noble theme and a pictureque description of the richness of Tamil language and culture, the film ends up promoting stereotypes:

  1. A youth skeptical about marriage (the demonization of the daughter-in-law)
  2. The disruption of a happy family by the daughter-in-law (a home breaker with unjustifiable demands)
  3. A family with good values opposes an individual’s choice in marriage. (A good girl must listen and abide by the decision of the family.)

Rather than seeking to change the outlook of his contemporary audience, the director feeds into the (worst) fears and (desparate) hopes of the evolving Indian family – each struggling to come to terms with modernity and tradion.

A good story in Indian cinema cannot be told without love. But… why must the story end up feeding into the yesteryear social mindset.

No doubt, Vazhthugal is a good movie. Seeman helps us see the contemporary world with the filters of yesteryear traditions. But shouldn’t we have stories that helps us embrace the change in our midst? Will Tamil cinema provide us with the a new visual narrative and Vocabulary?


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