The story of goddesses can be told in a lot of fashions. It can be set in heaven, clearly delineated from hell-much like the virtues of the protagonist from the vices of her nemesis- in a “vanilla approach”. But a more effective modus operandi to celebrate her without propagandizing would be to set the milieu in the dungeons of hell; squinted from where the heaven would appear in all its glory at an inaccessible height. What better way to eulogize the Goddesses, than from the perspective of fallen gods.
Iraivi starts with montages of different women on the threshold of new beginnings-one making a bucket list about the qualities of her ideal man; one hopefully about to get married to a film director despite her friend’s reiteration of the fraternity’s character(or the lack of it) and a widow in the midst of a passionate intercourse with a man; who she objectifies to just be her dildo-all of them separated by aspirations, united by rain.
The movie is not a “baptism by womenhood” sort of affair.Infact on the contrary it is an endeavour at establishing them to be flawed contemporaries. Firm counterparts who could thrive on their autonomy.
This is a film that shows, without trying to show off; expresses without going all out to explain. The way it rolls out, we understand and appreciate its intentions.
A lesser movie would’ve resorted to sub plots to burnish the glory of its women. But not this one. So when we have the drunkard husband waking up to yet another hangover, we’re shown Yazhini slapping him to only breakdown to an embrace moments later; when she gets to know of the cause to the madness.
She is a reasonable person-who can expand and contract to the whims and fancies in the jurisdiction of love-only by choice.
When the man tired of being the “other man”, comes to Malar place with his father to convince her to tie the knot with him; we witness a stereotype-wrenching role reversal. Poker faced she tells the man’s father that she’s in this only to satiate her salacious needs, that her deceased husband-the only man she loved wouldn’t be able to.
Both men are left to simmer and squirm in the unadulterated quality of her honesty; that doesn’t make room for diplomacy or deceit to come across as affable.
She is completely capable of being independent -to “paint” a life of her own possibilities-of a man’s reassurance of love.
Ponni is distress sold as a penny stock to her husband, who himself as we’re told hasn’t found any takers . All her dreams of wedding remain scattered when after a rough consummation on their first night, smoking casually her husbands tell her she can remain with him if she “adjusts”. Her light of hope(flickering as it was) goes off with him turning the light down in the room.
When he comes back to her after serving time in prison-for a crime he so proudly commits putting their marital life on the altar of gratitude-she hits him back with his “adjust” ultimatum in a different context; not venomously, but from a less naiver space.
She is gentle, not brittle. Her femininity lends to her a softer side, often mistaken to be fragile.
These women become the alphas in their relationships-by their overbearing arc of patience, by their display of dogged resistance,ability to move ahead, to look forward to life without turning spiteful-even if passively so.
As the movie draws to its end the women-collateral damages to the fallibility of their respective men-who were knobs in their hands, get united again by rain. Only that this time around, they get drenched in it without restraint. They’re content with being prosperous islands in a sea of men, who get to only scrub on the shores, but never let the sea get beyond that.