Frame #3 : Gender separation in “Dharmadurai”


Capture d_écran 2018-12-27 à 12.46.36

  • Film : Dharmadurai
  • Director : Seenu Ramasamy
  • Cinematographer : M.Sukumar
  • Cast : Vijay Sethupathi, Tamannah, Aishwarya Rajesh

Dharmadurai is not only a movie about the eponymous character tumultuous life journey, it’s also a fine study about gender inequalities in tamil society.
The separation between men and women is always spatialized : men often ask women to go inside the domestic space as they can deal about serious (and of course male) business. It’s obvious in this traditional “ponnu paakkerdhu” scene, where Dharma’s (Vijay Sethupathi) family come to Anbu Selvi’s (Aishwarya Rajesh) house to negotiate the marriage between the two “lovers in the making”. As men are talking about money and the necessity or not of a dowry, women are preparing the ritual offering, “thambulam thattu”, with saree, sweets etc : men are in the material sphere whereas women are in the symbolic sphere : the material power defines men’s world, the symbolic compensation softens women’s. In this frame, there is also a chromatic separation as women’s dresses are very colourful whereas men are dressed in white, excerpt Dharma, in a violet shirt, maybe to symbolize that he, the softer man is the one who supports women, the one who refuses the inequalities between men and women.
Through this gender separation study, director Seenu Ramasamy also makes an ode to his women characters : excerpt Dharma’s sister in law, all female characters whether they are emancipated like Shuba (Tamannah) or more submissive like Dharma’s sister, are all kind-hearted, pure and have one common mission : saving Dharma.

That’s exactly why Dharmadurai cannot be called a feminist movie in my opinion. I will write on this in an upcoming article. To be continued…


Shakila Z.