A Journey from Innocence to Experience: Feminist Approach to Nagesh Kukunoor’s Film Lakshmi (2014)
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Society has created some specific categorisations for women: sweet daughter, loving wife, and caring mother. If a woman does not fit into these predestined roles, she will be recognised as a monster. The patriarchal society has injected these notions into her from her early childhood. She has been treated as a profitable product and procreating machine, which is evident from the age-old dowry system. She has been called “item” sometimes, and society has normalised it by playing Bollywood item songs repeatedly. Even women do not object to it because it seems natural to them. Feminists argue that a woman’s body has been represented as seductive, procreative, material and sexual. In Nagesh Kukunoor’s film Lakshmi (2014), the materialistic image of a woman has been revealed through the acts of child trafficking and child prostitution. The protagonist has been named after the Hindu goddess, LAKSHMI. She is the goddess of wealth, love, beauty, joy and prosperity. An Indian woman has been called Lakshmilike when her behaviour appears docile and submissive. In this film, Lakshmi, a fourteen-year-old girl, has been sold off by her father to acquire Lakshmi, which is money! Society’s materialistic portrayal of women has merged both the goddess and a real woman. The purchaser has imposed prostitution upon the girl child forcefully. In 2012, the “Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012” was legislated to offer protection to children that may have suffered from sexual violence. In this film, the girl called Lakshmi did not remain silent about this abominable act. She protests and succeeds in shedding off her objective position and achieves the subjective status in punishing her perpetrators legally. Another victim, Jyothi, punishes the oppression of the patriarchal society by castrating one of its male agents, Chinna, at the end of the film. The patriarchal society strategically sets some features regarding an ideal woman: weak, sweet in nature, caring, gentle, and submissive, only to subjugate her and keep her in control. But in this film, society fails to control her innocence about its ideological tricks. She no longer becomes the object of the male gaze but achieves a life where she becomes the master of her own life. Her journey is from Object to Subject, from Innocence to Experience.
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