TELUGU CINEMASS

Aug 10, 2008

Junior NTR and Prabhas to lose weight and gain mileage among women audiences...

REEL AND REAL MEN

Does media reflect or influence society? Opinions may differ, but if films are a reflection of society, it probably would not be a mistake to conclude that perhaps the average Hyderabadi man has experienced a massive makeover in his mental and physical framework.

Remember the super hit Shankar flick ‘Boys’ or the very popular Raja and Kamalini Mukherjee starrer ‘Anand’? What about R Madhavan and Shalini’s eclectic charm in ‘Sakhi’ or the very recent blockbuster ‘Bommarillu’ with Siddharth and Genelia? Any guesses about what’s common to all these films?
Well, they might seem to be women-centric films, but on the other hand, they have heroes who are strong despite being young, vulnerable and very much in love. Going against the grain of the moustachioed, muscular macho man of the south Indian films, these chocolate heroes stole the hearts of millions of youngsters, including women. All these characters speak of men who are rather sensitive, mature, dutiful and apart from being loyal to their lady loves are completely themselves and not He-man clones.

The makeover is apparent even among the mass heroes. The efforts of younger heroes like Junior NTR and Prabhas to lose weight and gain mileage among women audiences is a far cry from their earlier ‘action hero’ image that required a rough and tough look. These and other image makeover techniques that the film folk are adopting are perhaps a sign of the times, or as some cynics would dismiss, desperate measures by hit-hungry Tollywood to shore up commercial success.

However, television continues to be regressive in its portrayal of men. In most serials and in some ads, men are shown as philanderers or frat boys trying to get around their wives or girlfriends, finding fault with everything their long-suffering wives do and or acting the ultimate rogues. Even if the bad man continues to be an attractive character for women, the end of the day it is the conscientious boy who rules the roost, the sweet responsible boy who walks away with the girl and a lion’s share of applause.

The ad world has thrown up some interesting images, right from ‘the complete man’ who cares not only for his child and puppies but even casts aside his impeccable corporate attire for a bit of football with young boys in a park. Then there is the man who lets his wife’s wit egg him on to take up an insurance policy. These and several other ads of this kind show up the sensitive, family-oriented side to men who face the responsibilities of life even as they retain their boyish sense of fun. Therein lies the heroic tale of a culture that has come to accept boys who grow up to be nice men.

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