Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Tribute to Women . . And a salute to Furiosa

"Mad Max: Fury Road" released this year is a reboot of the original Mad Max franchisee released back in 1979. The original starred Mel Gibson and was directed by George Miller. This one stars Tom Hardy, who reprises the role of Max; and is also directed by George Miller. Keeping aside the fact that it is an extravagent treat for the senses, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Fury Road isn't about Max at all. The movie is about Furiosa . . and her sidekick Max. It is an inherently feminist movie and the protagonist is not the male lead. Charlize Theron's character steals the limelight right from her entrance in the movie to the blood-thumping, pulsating background score titled "Redemption" which is what Furiosa is searching for through the movie. Furiosa isn't the typical version of beauty we normally see, and the stand-out fact is that Furiosa represents the right version of feminism that we need today. Take a gander - 


Not exactly a pin-up is she? No lovely curves like the absolutely sickening Game of Thrones characters (not very clear on names since I don't follow the mess). No bells and whistles like the long-suffering wives on countless soap operas millions of women across the world sit glued to their tellys for. She's Furiosa. She is what she is. Take it or leave it. One-armed protector for Immortan Joe's escaped breeders. Far cry from Deepika Padukone's "My Choice" video where she glimmers on screen in pretty, wavy hair and talks of having sex outside marriage. You won't consider that as even a relevant issue when you think of a character like Furiosa; she's got better and bigger things to worry about. She's actually trying to help the breeder's escape to the Land of the Many Mothers (again a very feminist concept) and help them start a new life where their children will not be warlords. Far cry from Deepika's simpering take on a pseudo-feminism that most women in India wouldn't even relate to. 

Mad Max is set in a dystopian future where critical resources like water, oil, arms etc are hoarded by warlords who have their castle and their armies to protect whatever they're hoarding. Immortan Joe controls all the water and calls it Aqua-Cola. He has an army of crazy Jihadis called "The Half-Life" who think dying in battle will take them to Valhalla (their version of heaven). Immortan's sole use for women is for breeding his progeny. He has a harem of beauties whom he calls his breeders. He uses them just for impregnation and treats them like his propety. His sole purpose for this harem is to give him male progeny so that his lineage will be carried on. The premise is disgusting but all too real (as history has taught us right from Genghis Khan who has fathered a genetically distinct generation to the comical Laloo Yadav with his 11 children). The movie in itself is a surreal take on an inevitable global melt-down, but let's not go there for now. Imperator Furiosa is shown as a critical cog in Immortan's army. He sends her on a mission to acquire bullets and gasoline from another warlord in exchange for his water. Coming to the plot, the movie is all Furiosa. Right from Max's entry; we see his concern as a very primal and selfish one. He's all about surviving without caring two hoots for anybody else. Furiosa is all about the bigger picture. She's trying her best to get the breeders to safety so they can start a new life. She's fighting for womankind, Max is just trying to save his own skin. Even amongst the half-life, she commands respect. Her team obeys her unquestioningly even when she leads them into a detour and an obvious ambush. Furiosa is the better fighter (it takes both Max and the half-life to subdue the one-armed Furiosa), she's the better shot (there's a scene to that effect), she's the one searching for redemption and she's the one who kills Immortan Joe with a chilling "Remember Me" as her parting shot. The climax of the movie when she saves Max from being run over while at the same time driving the war-rig after being stabbed with a knife and manages to save herself, Max and the breeders is basically the role of the protagonist and none lesser. Max is the sidekick. Fury Road is all Furiosa. Fighter, Mother . . Woman. 

It is very refreshing to see this kind of feminism being portrayed on-screen. To my mind, Furiosa is the epitome of all that is best in womankind. She doesn't conform to the norm when it comes to female beauty, she is trying to prove a point when she helps the breeders escape, she's uber-capable and at the same time sensitive to human emotions, she's ruthless and at the same time fair (she allows Max to drink water before she goes all heavy-handed on him in one scene) and she's got the larger picture in mind, she doesn't need Max . . he needs her. 

To all the Furiosas in my life - a salute from this sidekick Max.