Namma Ooru Film Heroine Archetypes

When there is a new hope, the empire is just expected to strike back, right? When identities are in question, somebody needs to assert their supremacy, right? When fellowships get formed, they simply must pay a visit to the two towers, right?

So, this just had to be followed by this.

With a small difference. I didn’t have to do any writing. Rekha and Maami did it for me. All I did was copy-paste and add a few flourishes here and there.

Rekha, a.k.a NRI Maami introduces us to,

Riches to Rags Lover
Only daughter of mega-karodpathi. Spoilt and pampered by her father. Humbled by a poor hero who works as a driver/ servant/cook/isthriwala. Walks over father’s/brother’s/mother’s metaphorical dead body to marry hero.

Amreeeca to India
Foreign return, obnoxious, arrogant heroine. Once again humbled by patriotic, ‘well cultured’, poor hero who works as a driver/servant/cook/isthriwala

Family Slogger
Slogs for the family. Possibly the only sane member of a family. Works and fends for widowed elder sister, studying younger siblings and one or more ill/unwell/cancer/heart patient parents or siblings and sometimes drunkard father. No time for love, yet falls in love types.

The Victim
The tearful and trodden victim of bad mens’ ways. A few rare attempts at women fighting back (Zakhmi Aurat, etc) failed miserably and therefore the usual plotline involves being rescued by a good man who brings her out of the ‘keechad’ and marries her.

Good Bahu Bad Bahu
The good to-be-daughter-in-law turned bad daughter-in-law. Will insist on moving out or getting rid of in-laws. Will scorn at in-laws and bitch at husband.

‘Also there’ herione
Her role is to be there when needed. Dance around trees for a few songs, cry by the bedside of a sick person, comfort the hero when he cries. Rarely has much dialogue besides ‘I love you’. Attire includes several diaphanous synthetic sarees with a close affinity for Di-hydrogen oxide.

And Maami gives us (slightly Tamil specific, but hey, amidst all our diversity, filmy formulae remain the one common uniting glue),
strong>Smart ass as Sumaithangi (Burden bearings)
Eternal loser. She loves denying lovers to remains single and committed to family, acts tough but is soulful beneath her starched saris . K Balachandar loved to make a hash of them after he whipped the storylines from Ghatak movies to maudlin levels in Tamil. Don’t see them anymore. Sometimes like Nadia they can die in charming ways, with majenta eye make up intact, No spewing ketchup like Sivaji or Kamalgasan for the lovely lahdies please.

Ignoramus puss

Usually a village belle who is extraordinarily innocent and ignorant. Easy to spot her: She wears wicked dhavanis that flutter in wind showing deep navels, can’t figure out when she’s knocked up and gets pregnant, bats eyelashes as fake as plastic fans and just can’t figure out anything about the bees and birds. Makes you wonder why the hero would want to bed her. He says he’s charmed by her innocence. E.g.: Sridevi (Those 16 years) but perfected by Radha Saluja with MGR saying “Yenna paalu vennum”.

Tough girl

Machan, don’t go by her uniform (She will shriek, “Dipartmentkku avamaanam (Whatay puppy shame for the department)” better than red-eyed Rambo Vijayakanth) or the IAS officer- clean as milk, tough and unyielding until she sees hero who reduces her to a quivering mass with his righteousness. She looks sexy in a dangerous way only when she sends flying kicks in police uniforms two sizes small. Podgy heroines like Lakshmi, Radhika play the officer roles while slim hipped ones do the cop act. Evergreen line in Iru Kodugal:”I am talking about our life not the file”. Wo my gawd why did Sowcar have to age?

Rich Canine of feminine gender

She is rich, spoilt with a gaggle of ugly friends in hand-me-down costumes from her earlier films. Sometimes she will visit the village where our hero is doing an honest man’s work. But all it takes is a kiss to tame her. (Thambikku enda ooru or a toss in the hay as in Sakalakalavallavan).A bit of S&M about her , likes to whip the hero and soak him in brine. My eternal favourite: a limp haired Ambiga hissing at Rajni after whipping and smearing his wounds in salt:”Edu yeppadi irukku?” And our man drawls, “A-jilllunu”.

Married Miss

Her claim to her marital status is whipping out a huge nylon rope thali from her prodigious chest to make a point about her chastity. Is totally loved by mom in law unless she makes an appearance in Visu movies. Favourite act on all mornings:a wet Kerala thundu , kodiya, wound around her head, post thulasi maadam circumambulation heads with milk to our man, who tugs her and she simpers:”Ennaga edhu, chi vidunga” followed by a tussle beneath a Madras check bedsheet. Her It moment comes when she acts if she is starting a scooter in reverse on an iron bed delivering a baby under cataclysmic circumstances.

The Goddess

Massive yellow wash, biggest kunguma pottu, glittering faux crown and the longest nylon hair pieces, dressed in bharatanatyam costumes. Can either smile beatifically at mortal folly and nod her head, but is supremely confident when she stomps a dance with a trishoolam , rolling eyes before plunging it into a baddie and lets heaving bosom tell you the extent of her wrath. The mangaatha bet on this one. All heroines who want to cleanse their past movie sins play the part.

Urban Jane

She travels by bus, holds a desk job, and is so kind and understanding.But has a skewed idea of friendship and love. Will blithely get sexually cosy with our corny hero with a complex and call him a bro while making out with another guy.Or is a college girl in pavadai dhavani. Totally guileless.

Epilogue

All Tamil heroines are innocent virgins, married, unmarried, mothers or not.

Update: Neha urges us not to forget the cottage industry of assorted Maamis and Annis. (a.k.a “Assorted screen space occupiers for melodrama purposes” )

The “mother like” sister in law – who dutifully cooks, sews and tells innocent lies.

The “evil” sister in law – who wants all property.

The “matchmaker” sister in law – whose only interest in life is to ensure that her husband’s siblings all find marital bliss.

The “golden cowgirl” (thangamana mattuponnu / Kyunki Bahu bhi kabhi sauce thi) who is skilled to the point of heaven and can make anything in the kitchen – is often pregnant by the 35th minute of film – and is adopted by hero as his “ideal woman”.

Then there is the “outhouse” sister in law – who likes to go to the inikko nalaikko “club” and spends the family’s meager combined income on “cards”.

Last but not the least “my koondal reaches my knees” sister in law. Her only achievement in life is yard long pinnal. Her only fear is that excessive visits to the kitchen will ruin her lovely hair 

15 Comments

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  2. Virgin Whore:Yo Bro, believe me you, the Tamil movie whore is a virgin. In the Sixties she would do a kathak-like piroutte to escape the grabbing paws of the local lech;if she were lucky she’d be raped by a A or B-grade star and would end up being married to him before the end credits rolled.God save her if she lost IT to Senthamarai. Only He can salvage her. She will soon after die and assume eternal virginity in heaven.

  3. Yo yo, fark’s back from hell!! Great stuff KA , Rekha, Maami! Here ‘s an addition:

    The Gundu-rhendu-vechurukaen penn:
    (trans: I- have -2 -bombs girl)

    the new breed of urban heroines who have 2 guys after her.. The variants are pre and post-marital heroines , and in the 2nd case, 1 of the guys is usually a slimeball whom she’ll shoot the brains off at the end and get away scott-free. In the first case, she’ll keep leading both on, and at the very end give a very innocent “naan apdi ellaam nanaikave illaye onna pathi” to the loser hero. Originally conceptualized by the likes of maaldhika show-rawat and priety zinta from bollywood (sleaze and non-sleaze variety), watch out for them coming soon in kollywood to a theatre near you. (did you know trivia : shah rukh khan played this kind of a “heroine” in dil to pagal hai, kuch kuch etc)

  4. Lovely I say!

    Here’s one:

    P. with an H. of G.

    A woman of dubious morality that runs households, educates orphans, has a bunch of loyal friends, and regularly rescues other women from suffering a similar fate.

  5. Simpering/ Whimpering babes aside – the cottage industry of “Mannis/ Annis” are worth exploring. The “mother like” sister in law – who dutifully cooks, sews and tells innocent lies. The “evil” sister in law – who wants all property. The “matchmaker” sister in law – whose only interest in life is to ensure that her husband’s siblings all find marital bliss.

    The “golden cowgirl” (thangamana mattuponnu) who is skilled to the point of heaven and can make anything in the kitchen – is often pregnant by the 35th minute of film – and is adopted by hero as his “ideal woman”. Then there is the “outhouse” sister in law – who likes to go to the inikko nalaikko “club” and spends the family’s meager combined income on “cards”.

    Last but not the least “my koondal reaches my knees” sister in law. Her only achievement in life is yard long pinnal. Her only fear is that excessive visits to the kitchen will ruin her lovely hair.

  6. @neha: “golden cowgirl” LOL!

    I now begin to wonder, what is the origin of the term maattuponnu? were brides confined to the cowsheds? or was that their primary job in the household? or were they held as sacred as a cow?

    before i begin translating the ‘My cow’ school essay to a ‘my daughter-in-law’ essay, any help?

  7. Yup KA’s got it. Once married a woman leaves her father’s home to become Mattran vettu ponnu. Over years, with slurred usage named in Tamil grammar as “tiribu mozhi” , it has turned to mattuponnu.

  8. Like McD says, I’m lovin’ it.
    I suppose you’ve covered everyone – but what about the sister of the hero? She would, depending on who the director is, either be raped by villain or fall in love with hero’s assistant. Who might or mightn’t be the villain.
    Much filial sobbing ensues.

  9. Passing middle age, with grown up sons and daughters who are generally going haywire, pillar of strength to the hero of yesteryears (sivaji usually), always in silk with heaps of jasmin and whose part in the film is generally to bring coffee to the ageing hero. Usually portrayed by KRV, Padmini in the past but these days by unknown actresses.

  10. Radha Saluja will not ask MGR enna paalu venum” instead just before the song idhazhae idhazae thaen vendum… she will reply to MGR’s response vera enna dhaan venum” (what else you want) and the song begins like this idhazhae idhazae thaen vendum. (I want honey from lips…)

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