Saturday, July 23, 2011
Mammootty and Mohanlal as Structural Linguistics
Between the representation and the represented there is a grey zone of the agency that embodies the act of representing. There is nothing new in this statement because this is what exactly the structural linguists had said. They said the sign and the signified are not the same. The meaning changes during the act of signification and the signifier is just an agency, which is temporary in nature.
That’s why Foucault, citing Rene Magritte’s work ‘This is Not a Pipe’, wrote a full length thesis on that work.
So there is no point in feeling morally agitated when we listen to the news or see the news of Income Tax raids at the residences and offices of the Kerala superstars, Mammootty and Mohanlal.
People tend to get agitated because when they see this news they feel ditched by these actors. Why they feel ditched because they have invested full faith in the goodness of the characters these actors have essayed in their movies. And most of the movie goers watch movies with a sense of satisfaction because they apply the poetic logic while watching a movie; a poetic logic is the willing suspension of disbelief.
When you willingly suspend your disbelief, the grey zone between the actor and the character that he portrays gets erased and you start seeing the character and the actor the same. That’s why people take so much interest in the personal lives of the superstars. A movie goer stupidly believes that the star behaves the same way a character behaves in the movie.
People see them as icons and the icons are supposed to be icons all the times. They are sign, signified and signification personified. People do not believe either in Foucault or Rene Magritte or the whole lot of post structuralist linguists.
Mammootty and Mohanlal during their thirty years of film career have amassed wealth of unimaginable kind. This is a known fact and it is fallacious to believe that they have distributed the whole money for the welfare of their art or their audience. Both of them are individual people with their own career interests and business interests. When they are business people they cannot be the benevolent and righteous characters that they portray in their movies.
Business corrupts and absolute business corrupts absolutely. But people just don’t take it when it comes to the actors who often essay the roles of benevolent and right thinking characters. Actresses are out of this snare of this image. If an actress is found in the company of a bad element people think that she cannot be otherwise even if she acts the most innocent girls’ roles in movies. Male chauvinism or the Indian way of thinking would take it in easily.
But male superstars are different. They cannot do any wrong. Both Mammootty and Mohanlal have, even when they essay the negative role, highlighted the rightful man’s capacity to stand against corruption, black marketeering and bootlegging. They stand up to the police and politicians and finally before the portrait of a framed Gandhi they uphold the rights of the people.
And we believe that they pay tax too. Like any other person who makes a lot of money, the first thing that comes to their mind is how to evade tax. And they find ways to do it.
They don’t find any qualms in screaming long dialogues against corruption in their movies because they know that the sign and signified are different. They are just doing the act of signification and they are temporary signifiers. Outside this chain of actions they are different people; people with basic human faults.
However they admire these stars, whenever they fall or fault, people, along with their disbelief and agitation, they feel a tremendous amount of happiness welling up inside them. They feel that finally the justice is done.
This is how all the slaves feel when they see their beloved tormentors fall from grace or position. They don’t show it outside. But amongst their circles, squatting on their haunches they would share this joy through hushed up talks and smiles in their eyes.
So we need not feel agitated because Mohanlal and Mammootty are just people who are also prone to corruption despite the super characters and super images that they carry around in their ageing bodies.