Sex Up The Cinemascope
Outlook|September 23, 2019
National award-winning Nathicharami breaks the shackles for Kannada cinema.
Ajay Sukumaran

When film-maker Manjunatha Somashekara Reddy wanted to tell the story of a woman’s inner conflict, he was clear about breaking some well-worn tropes—there would be no domineering parents-in-law bringing in the banal social complications. “This was a challenging part. I wanted a woman not bound by anything,” says the director of Nathicharami, which led a rich haul for the Kannada film industry at the National Film Awards this year. So Gowri, his protagonist played by Sruti Hariharan, heads a team at an IT company, lives by herself in a comfortable home with plenty of wind chimes—the jingling of each of the chimes brought to mark a special occasion, keeping alive memories of her dead husband. “It’s the conflicts within we wanted to talk about. Nobody is restraining her from outside,” says Reddy, who goes by the acronym Mansore. Nathicharami—a reference to the Sanskrit nuptial vow—tells the story of a young widow still attached to her short-lived, happy marriage, but struggling with her sexual needs. “In a male-dominated society, if a woman has to say, ‘I don’t want a romantic relationship but only sex’, people start thinking in a totally different way,” says Mansore. Even making a film with the theme was fraught with risks, he adds. “Producers normally wouldn’t come forward for a storyline like this.” Even if they do, they wouldn’t want the budget to exceed the film subsidy available. The boost, he says, came when Nathicharami was selected for screening by the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image last September.

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