Readers Write In #525: Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey- An obscene class narrative masquerading as gender rights story

Posted on November 20, 2022

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By Sai Ganga R

Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey is the latest entrant into the domestic abuse saga which have come up one too many off late. What differentiates the current crop of these movies from those of similar theme say of the 80’s is an element of black comedy that is peppered- This makes the proceedings not dense at any point so that you can get away with being an “entertainer” too. Darlings, Kumbalangi Nights, the Fatima Sana short in Modern Love Mumbai etc.

However, the other common feature in these movies(I will club the Paava Kadhaigal shorts and the more recent Anal Mele Pani Thuli here) is the social setting. While it is really commendable that such topics are being taken up, and each of the movie mentioned here have done justice to what they have set out to do, one cant help but think of the inherent bias of the movie makers.

In JJJJ Hey, when the husband repeatedly strikes the wife or when the mother character says its natural to get beaten up, or when one family member says India will be the super power from next year, it’s a very convenient setup. That these traits can be attributes to only a people of a particular social class. When Shammi says I do “allow” women freedom to an extent, it becomes a gag as the character’s social class is far removed and does not look at introspection from the urban crowd. This exploitation/abuse exercise is starting to get a bit commodified and more insidious is when the “privileged” who watch  this movie in a multiplex “scoff” at these characters and at their shortcomings. Even worse, we might just come out of theatre thinking we are better people.

The reality is women abuse happens far more frequent and in insidious ways in urban setting and in the higher social classes( Dil Dadakhne Do Monsoon Wedding),. It is time that Malayalam cinema keeps a lens on that too.

Lets consider what KG George did way back in the 80’s with Mattoral. Here the husband is a senior Govt official living in the city and look at how the wife resists the abuse. She just leaves the house one day. There is no black comedy here. In fact Mammooty and Karamana discuss Sartre in a scene!!

My bone of contention is essentially this. While its great that Malayalam cinema by far produces the highest quality mainstream content, its time we leave the humour out of it once a while. The fact that a Moothon or a Koode or a Malayankunju didn’t do well at the box office and Puzhu and Joji went straight to OTT still shows we need the laughs to make it palettable. May be Shyam Pushkaran is the man for the job here.