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If Vanaja had abstained from sex

09 May

Suresh was out running and I was watching the telugu movie Vanaja last sunday. I don’t understand Telugu very well but still ended watching it as it reminded me of Doordarshan regional movies, taking me down memory lane. On sundays,we used to religiously get ready , finishing lunch by 1:00PM, just in time to watch the news for deaf people( no, I am not deaf !:-) followed by the afternoon regional art movie, set in a dark backdrop and trying to understand with reference to the context.Be it Assamese, Bengali, Malayalam or Gujarati, we understood the movie without subtitles or rather we inferred what we wanted.. More about this in another blog.

Without getting distracted,let me talk about the movie Vanaja. It is a story of a beautiful 15 year old girl,Vanaja who is born into a low caste and joins as a servant in a rich household. She is a very perky,pretty,strong,resourceful and courageus girl. The mistress of the house likes her puckishness and hires her.Vanaja wants to learn dancing and achieves it by beating her mistress in a board game ,making her teach Vanaja both singing and dancing.Enters the son from USA who ill-treats Vanaja ,sexually assaulting her. Vanaja has nowhere to go , with a drunkard as a father .Also,her will to learn dancing makes her stay back. On learning about the assaults when Vanaja becomes pregnant,the mistress is torn between her love for her son and her affection towards her prodigy.In the end, Vanaja gives away her son to the father and leaves the village , believing the promises from the mistress to let her meet her child once he is grownup.Interestingly, the screen play is unusally frank in dealing with the sexual tension between Vanaja& Shekar(the son) and between Vanaja and the local postman.It is definitely not your regular love story and shows Vanaja as a strong-willed girl who fights against all odds.Having said that,the movie does not exactly end on a positive note either.

I was watching CNN the other day, watching Bristol Palin( Tina Fey’s daughter..Oops! Well, you know who I am talking about;-) talking about teenage pregnancies. For those who don’t know,she is Sarah Palin’s 19-year old daughter who gave birth to her son 4 months back.She has been chosen as the teen ambassador for Candie’s foundation to help against teenage pregnancies. America supposedly has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in the industrialized world. Bristol talked about sex abstinence, saying that is the best way to avoid pregnancy. The teenage mothers in US get into it knowingly, atleast most of them.In India, our society doesn’t let us talk about this openly and this got me thinking. There could be so many Vanajas who are forced into sex and who keep quiet. They may not exactly end up in pregnancies but they are all subdued. If Vanaja had the choice of sex abstinence at such a tender age of 14, she would have definitely taken it and might have become a great dancer too.It is a big IF.

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11 Comments

Posted by on May 9, 2009 in movies

 

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11 responses to “If Vanaja had abstained from sex

  1. anandnewscafe

    May 9, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    You are right. There probably are many Vanajas out there. Young girls who aren’t even aware of their rights – and even if they were, they don’t have the support that could help them pull out of the unwanted situations thrust upon them. We don’t know how many of those girls had talents that could’ve made them great.

    Things are changing – but it would be a while before we began discussing these ills of our society out in the open.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking essay.

    Regards,
    Anand.

     
    • shoba

      May 11, 2009 at 9:43 pm

      @ Anand,
      Thanks for visiting my blog. As you said, things are slowly changing for sure. Lets hope for the best.

       
  2. bee

    May 11, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    but bristol said in her interview with greta van whatever that “abstinence alone does not work”. sex education is a must. guess sarah didn’t like that and bristol has changed her tune.

     
    • shoba

      May 11, 2009 at 9:36 pm

      @Bee,
      Yes, I saw that too. In my opinion, I think Sex education is a must for kids. Bristol did a full turn-around recently.Anyway,IMHO, I don’t think Bristol is the right person to be an ambassador for teenage pregnancies.
      I did not talk about sex education in this blog as I was linking it with Vanaja , who is forced to have sex.

       
  3. Sri

    May 12, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    It is joke we (Indians) call ourselves the value based people. We push so much under the rug, it is scary.
    Child Abuse, Rape, Incest (and all permutations and combinations of these three etc.) are swept across in the name of society.

    Leaving that aside, given that situation, it is a tough call for the teacher. We all do wrong things sometimes because it is permitted/accepted/tolerated by society (even if they are wrong). So going by moral values is a tough call.

    Going to Bristol. Without knowing enough about her (but going just by her mommy), it is PATHETIC JOKE that she talks for abstinence. People like Sarah Palin are no different than Indian politicians. And people who are voting for her are no different than “conservative” part of india.

     
  4. Anup

    May 17, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    interesting article…motivates me to check the movie out..will do that…is the title not misleading?…did Vanaja have a choice??? abstinence is by choice…but if ur forced into something (which seems to be the crux of the story) the outcomes are no different…child rape/abuse really sucks and is quite prevalent in India…i think anybody who engages in this should receive capital punishment…

     
    • shoba

      May 18, 2009 at 11:20 am

      Anup,
      I agree. Guilty as charged. Actually, I started with “If Vanaja could afford to abstain from sex” , which was too long, then changed it to “If Vanaja could afford sex abstinence” , and finally decided on this title though I thought that it might be misleading. Anyway, whats in a title? It is the post that counts. What say?
      Amen to capital punishment for the abusers. As Sri said, unfortunately the matter is pushed under the rug by the elders of the family. I personally know of a few cases. 😦

       
  5. Anup

    May 18, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    hmm…I’m not sure I agree with you…the title is the hook…when one reads a title it is a “promise” on what comes later…so I think the title should be consistent with the story…i’m not saying the title should be an absolute cracker of a phrase…but it should not promise what it does not offer…again it is just my point of view…my title for this story would be “Vanaja’s dilemma”…the reader knows that there is a dilemma and Vanaja is facing it…what is it? is it resolved? read the blog…hehe..again that is just me..

     
    • shoba

      May 18, 2009 at 2:44 pm

      I agree with you to a certain extent. Yes, a title is like a window to what follows. My title had Vanaja and Sex and abstinence and the blog offered all of it. I don’t think I particularly misled anyone. My two cents.

       
  6. Anup

    May 18, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    fair enough! plus ur right…all the catch words were part of the title…i guess it is just my way of thinking…anyway digressing from the core topic…just a casual comment…never implied that u tried to mislead…sorry if it came across that way…hope ur not offended…

     
    • shoba

      May 18, 2009 at 9:04 pm

      No Anup,
      There is no way I will get offended by your comments. By now, I have seen enough of your comments to know how you think and I love an argument any day.Take it easy, buddy. 🙂

       

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