Malayalam superstar Prithviraj on Thursday defended the provocative scene which featured his slapping his wife out of frustrations in his new blockbuster ‘Ayyappanum Koshiyum’, out in the UAE cinemas now.
He claims this character Koshy Kurian and his submissive on-screen wife Ruby represented a problem that exists in society and that this couple were not meant to be emulated.
“Does the film show them as a couple you aspire to be? No. They represent a problem. A problem that exists,” said Prithviraj over an SMS. He claims his character in the film isn’t even aware that there was an issue in the way he tackles his personal life.
“And addressing a problem starts by acknowledging that it exists. And a feudal, rapist criminal villain who’s unapologetically chauvinistic doesn’t address the problem. The protagonist who drives the plot not even realising there is an archaic wrong in his way of life addresses the problem,” added Prithviraj.
The Malayalam film Ayyappanum Koshiyum is a tale of two men (Prithviraj and Biju Menon) who embark on a battle of egos and pride. Biju Menon plays an ethical cop Ayyappan Nair who arrests the rich brat Koshy Kurian and the latter vows revenge and redemption and is a commentary on the class warfare, patriarchy and toxic masculinity. That scene where he slapped his wife is a stark contrast to the relationship that Biju Menon’s character shares with his empowered wife, claims the actor.
“The whole idea of the film is a series of juxtapositions. And one such juxtaposition is that of the two man-woman relationships in the film. One that of Ayyappan and his wife. A seemingly uneducated, less evolved village bred tribal woman who has an equal standing as a partner in her relationship and whose opinions and stands are understood and respected even if not agreed to by her police officer -husband,” explained Prithviraj, adding that Ayyappan Nair would never hit is wife.
“If he did, Kannamma would walk out of the relationship. Now the juxtaposition: Koshy and his wife. A more educated, seemingly more evolved, better travelled, “modern” couple. And forget equality, the woman in that relationship can hardly voice a thought … And what’s worse? She thinks it’s perfectly fine that in a fit of frustration, her husband hits her,” said Prithviraj. He points out to a particular scene in the film where his docile wife visits him in prison and she asks for the vessels with food cooked by her for him back. The dominant narrative that his wife’s place is in the kitchen was underlined in that instance.
“This is the farthest you can get from Ayyappan and Kannamma as a man-woman. In all ways, the question I would be asking myself..is does the film at any point paint Koshy as the man you want to be or want in your life. Or Ruby (his wife) as the woman you want to marry or want to be in life? Does the film show them as a couple you aspire to be? No. They represent a problem,” said Prithviraj.
But the award-winning actor is equally democratic about those voicing contrasting opinions.
“Of course, all this is my inference. And each viewer is free to infer on their own,” said Prithviraj.