Telugu cinema had two reasons to celebrate this Pongal. Both the Mahesh Babu starrer Sarileru Neekevvaru and the Allu Arjun starrer Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo have both turned out to be big successes.
But the way the leading lady in both films has been projected gives us much food for thought.And not healthy food. Has Telugu cinema really progressed? To begin with,both Sarileru Neekevvaru and Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo are rigidly mainstream formula films. The do-gooder hero takes on the villainous forces, etc.In both, the heroine, the romantic lead so to speak, is no more than the decorative doll. But what is worse is that the characters are placed in deplorably regressive roles.
In Sarileru Neekevvaru Rashmika Mandana spends all the time that she has on screen(and it isn’t much) extolling the emotional and physical virtues of the hero. Every time she sees Mahesh Babu, Rashmika goes into a swoon. Her eyes roll, her lips tremble and she stammers. Every dialogue that she has in the film is about how “cute and handsome” the hero is.
In brief, she has no life apart from stalking and raving over the man she has chosen . It is obvious she has only with her cute ,handsome, etc man.
Pooja Hedge in Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo is worse. She plays a successful rich confident single woman. But the minute she sees the hero she turns into abundle of nerves. In a blatant endorse of voyeurism and objectification, Allu Arjun keeps gawking at Ms Hegde’s legs ,not once but many times over. It’s like a running joke in the film, although the squirmy looks Arjun gives the heroine would make any sane and sensible girl creep out.There is an entire song and dance in the film where Allu Arjun sings about his heroine’s legs. But Ms Hegde enjoys it
In an interview she was asked about her hero’s leggy obsession and her reply was a classic.
Ms Hedge is quoted as saying, “There are films where people have sexually objectified navel of heroines, but Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo doesn’t do that.”
All right, then. From the naval the hero’s gaze has gone to the legs. Hopefully soon he will be drooling over his beloved’s feet the way Raj Kumar did on Kamal Amrohi’s Pakeezah.
But that’s another story.