Kalki's Portrayal of Women
  • As far as I have read kalki,the only woman who he has portrayed with
    great qualities is kundavai.I dont mean that other female characters
    portrayed by him are bad,but kundavai has many qualities which no
    other character of his has.She dreams of empire building,governs a
    country,does counter espoinage and finally plays a crucial role in
    fame of chola empire.Had she ruled chola nadu instead of
    arulmozi,she would have made a great queen.

    Sivakami is pushed to politics because of her affair with NV and the
    infatuation naganadhi has on her.She too is the reason for building
    of pallava empire,but again hers is a destructive power.She wants
    revenge like nandini-she doesnt talk much about a great pallava
    empire.She doesnt have dreams like kundavai had.

    Most other women like vanathi,manimegalai are replicas of heroines
    of tamil movies of 1940's and 1950's.Poonguzali is a bit odd,but
    finally she too becomes traditional after marrying sendan amuthan.

    In other social novels of kalki the same traditional womenhood is
    portrayed.In thiyaga boomi heroine throws away her husband and
    becomes a freedom fighter,but even there she tries to live the
    normal life of a housewife and only when its refused to her she
    turns into a 'puratchi pen'.

    But whereas most of the male characters of kalki have megalomaniacal
    dreams.vanthiya thevan,parthibendran,karikalan,arul mozi all have a
    dream.Even pinagabani has a mega dream.People like
    all have a dream.All have a vision and come up fighting in their

    But maybe our women really lived like that in those days.Maybe kalki
    portrayed the male dominant society as it existed then.

    I was reading udayar by balakumaran.He says that in chola empire
    women worked as 'adikarachis' and even as guards.Kalki did not say
  • I went to projectmadurai.com yesterday just to check
    if there are any new files, and realized a funny
    mistake I had made:
    When I had downloaded SS from the site a few months
    back, there was no part 4. I did not know there was a
    part 4, so after 3 parts, although the ending was
    slightly abrupt, the novel overall was amazing, with a
    tragic ending (not common in tamil lit.). Now I
    realize there is part 4, so I am going to read it
    today. Lets see if my impression of SS goes up or

  • Dear All...
    Have been following the SS discussion (what did you expect? :-))) with
    great interest. My two cents...
    >>>>I don't see Sivagami as an "egoist". I think of her as a girl with
    spunk, with individuality, with some attitude and oomph. Maybe traditionally
    Indian girls are not supposed to be like that. But I prefer Sivagami to a
    Vanathi from PS.. all suppliant
    and coy.. *ugh* made me want to puke :p >>>>>>>>
    Coy...! Arun, I agree with you there. Oh, no offence, Vanathi is a nice
    girl and all that - but I'm afraid as the consort of Arulmozhi, she isn't an
    ideal heroine (I even remember feeling vaguely angry when Arulmozhi finally
    confessed his 'love' for her, at the end - I felt kind of betrayed.
    Arulmozhi...with this faint-heart!! Gah. Of course, I forced myself into
    liking her, later. :-)). But then, therein, I think, lies Kalki's superb
    sense of proportion - he was well aware of how actual princesses of that era
    behaved, and the tiny roles queens (the traditional ones, not people like
    Princess Kundavai, who were very original in their views) - had to play, in
    the running of Empires...which is why, I think, he portrayed Vanathi as the
    'right girl'. Arulmozhi was not an ordinary prince, he would one day
    establish an Empire - and to do that, he ought to have a docile, demure girl
    who performs her duty well. (Can you see Poonghuzhali doing that? Like
    holding a tempest in a tea-cup :-) I really like the girl...now *there's*
    heroine material for you :-)
    That's what I like about Kalki - he's mostly realistic.
    Now, to get back to Sivakami - a heroine, I'll admit, who has evoked rather
    mixed reactions in me:

    >>>>>1.Sivakaami's words and deeds hurt Maamallaa many a times.>>>>
    I think *all* heroines in love are capable of treating their beloved this
    way. Sivakami hurts him - because she's too much in love with him, and makes
    the classic error of wanting most of his attention to herself. She's too
    young, leads a secluded life tucked away in a forest, has practically no
    friends, and lives in a fantasy world created by herself, with only a parrot
    and a deer for company - and frankly, has too much time on her hands with
    little to do but weave fantasies about herself and Maamallar. She's madly in
    love with him, and when her fantasy world and reality colide, is left
    confused, irritated, worried, and angry. Our normal heroines are guilty of
    this - why not Sivakami, who's a sensitive soul?
    >>>>>2. Kalki himself could not resist describing the discomfort felt by
    Maamalla by Sivakaami's behaviour.>>>>>>>>
    True. Maamallar feels discomfort - because he too is young, and
    inexperienced, he's what...18, 20, in the first paagam? Way too young to
    know a woman's heart. At that age, one is mostly aware of physical beauty -
    and though Kalki has portrayed them as two people who genuinely fall for
    each other because of their qualities, he also makes it clear that they find
    each other very attractive. Maamallar was a Prince, his duty was defined to
    him - and he had very little interaction with other young ladies his age -
    in all probability, he had absolutely no idea of what Sivakami truly felt.
    He tried to console her, and rest her fears...but he didn't really
    understand her deep-seated fear that he might not marry her. To him, her
    source of discomfort was not obvious. *He* was sure that he would marry her-
    an event which did not happen, eventually. She was justified, don't you
    Added to that, Sivakami was rather temperamental in her ways...all creative
    people are this way, to a certain extent. Maamallar, himself a fairly
    matter-of-fact person, did not understand this very much, I think.

    >>>3.Sivakaami is a heroine having some elements of Nilaambari.>>>>>
    :-)) I expect the stubbornness of her might give that impression. Not
    really. Sivakami was a typical woman, but none of her rages extended towards
    actively bringing down that which she could not have. She spent hours
    worrying about whether she would ever marry Maamallar - even though he was
    in love with her, she was aware of the practical impossibilties of the
    situation. The fact that Mahendra Pallavar opposed the match. And who could
    go against the Emperor? Not even Maamallar would. All her raves and rants
    were a result of this insecurity - but it did not go beyond that. She was
    torn apart by emotions, but she could not take fate in her hands and *force*
    a conclusion.

    >>>>1.Sivakaami wanted a mommoth war to break out and the war to be led by
    Maamalla. This is not entirely bcas of patriotism .>>>>
    Umm...does she? Want a war, ie? I doubt if she was sure of anything, at
    that point. As I said in the above para, she was angry and worried - and she
    spoke a few words too many. The war would break out regardless of what *she*
    wanted ...all she really wanted was proof that Maamallar loved her. In
    truth, she is horrified about the after-effects of it. In her heart of
    hearts, she is aware that the war is not about her...though she would like
    to believe it is.
    *That* was truly the root of the problem. Ultimately, in the huge war
    machinery, she's merely a rather useless...spare-part?

    >>>>3.Sivakaami, at one time or other, creates problems for the main
    characters - Maamallaa, Mahendraa, Paranjothi and Aayanar.>>>>
    If she didn't, then she would be as washed-out a character as Vanathi. :-))
    She's talented, this woman - she's creative, she'a fantastic dancer, and she
    has the power to draw crowds in. All the main characters respect her, love
    her, esteem her according to their stations. They cannot help doing so -
    for, she's a woman who cannot be ignored. Sivakami is the classic epic
    heroine - a whirlwind who torments herself first and foremost, and others in
    only a smaller measure.
    She creates problems...? But she isn't the originator of those problems. To
    Paranjyothi and Mahendra, she's the unresolved factor in a war - though they
    like her very much and are afraid of causing her harm, ultimately she's an
    object that has to kept safe. They are both concerned - which they would be,
    even if she wasn't the lover of Mamaa
  • Wow Pavithra... I think you covered pretty much everything that I wanted to
    say but didnt have the time to type out. I agree completely. Sivakami is a
    fantastic character because of the fact that she has all these
    contradictions that natural, normal people have. She is not a poonguzhali
    who can sacrifice her love or a Vanathi who is insipid and coy and in love.
    This lady is her own woman. She knows her mind.. at least she thinks so. ALl
    she wants is to marry Maamallan... she couldnt care two hoots about the
    empire... She is also young and vain and foolish .. but again in love.
    Normal people all behave like this.. and the genius of Kalki brought out all
    these different facets.

    Although I have one slight quibble with Pavithra. She says that Maamallan
    was too young to understnad the way a woman;s mind works. I want to ask her:
    Is there any age where a man can claim to understand a womanÅ› mind? :-D
  • Aah the young brigade... thinking Ewen McGregor is Obiwan.. *shakes his
    head* : not a patch on Sir Alec! no maam. NOt a patch!
  • Dear SPS,

    Great! Looking forward to your post on that!
  • --- In ponniyinselvan@yahoogroups.com, "Sivapathasekaran" > PS.
    Sivakami's pride - ego everything riverberating because of her
    > being an Artist .. Poonguzhali .. a Vagabond - Nightingale .. Oh ..
    > wonderful characterisation ...

    adi aaththee... Poonguzhali-nnaa 'vagabond'. idhey oru payyan ippadi
    irundhaa yella appavum 'tharudhalai'-nu thittaraanga. :-((

  • Appidithaanga solluvaanga :) kEttathilla? Horses Sweat, Men Perspire and
    Women Glow!
  • aahaa, super!

    yenna irundhaalum oru aanoda manasu innoru aanukkudhaan puriyum.

  • Krupa.. you are treading very dangerous ground here!:P Paarthu irunga ayya!
  • vaNakkam naNbargaLE,

    ellOrum poongkuzhali, sivagAmi iruvarOda guNathisayangaLai alasi,
    ArAichchi seiyyum intha vElaiyil, enakku oru vishayam strike Achchu.
    kalki En reNdu pErOda aththaikaLaiyum oomai/sevidAvE padaiththAr?

    Moreover, reNdu pErukkumE ammA kidiayAthu, petted by father. Both
    love a prince and don't unite with them. Both have temper tantrums
    and are a little unpredictable.

    AnAlum enakku PK-vai vida sivagAmi thAn romba obstinate-nu thONuthu.
    Though PK is a difficult person to predict she has more understanding
    of her surroundings than sivagAmi.

    I think kalki put lots of scenes like Sivagami refusing to go with
    Mamallar and Paranjothi just to add weight to the blazing of Vathapi
    in the end.
  • Dear sps...

    > But there is enough inscriptional materials avaiable to establish that
    > atleast during Chozhas' Rule, Women were enjoying very good social status
    > and were active in Panchayats / Buerocracy.. Film Rajarajan speeks of even
    > Women spies ..
    > There is some consolidated study on this .. shall try to post ..

    I'm looking forward to reading it, too. :-)
  • swetha please write in a single language. It is very difficult to read
    tamil in english.
  • Deer mishtttar Swamy,

    Peeppil laike me who no no inglees, thanglish mails righting okay no?
    I think thanglish reeding difficult mainly bekaas of switching of
    words in a sentence of the paragraph of the message of the mail. If
    aal lower case lattars following, easy reading there is eligible;
    capital lattars in between brain difficult there switching between
    capital and sumaal lattars.

    This nice mail is brought to you in reference to yuvar nice mail
    message I reed just.

    Good morning.

    Yours obediently,
  • Krupa,

    who woke you up? Better sleep off else office productivity may
    increase and you will be replaced by someone who sleeps well
    in the office.
  • "Poonguzali is oldr to Sivakaami by four hunred years!
    And much much metured!"

    It is the other way around.

    Rajendhra Cholan!
  • Good thread on the characters. I too sympathized Sivakari for the
    hardships she faced in Vathapi..but theethum nandrum pirar thara
    vaaraa..In our culture its generally said that we should listent to
    elders words and should not question or argue with them, even if their
    words mean nothing. But todays generation do not follow this, thats a
    different issue. 1400 years back also, it seems, a few were like this
    generation people, not listening to elders.

    Mahendrar clearly instructed Aayanar and Sivakami not to leave kanchi
    during the war. But, ketangala avanga, mahendrar pechai (Krupa junoon
    nyabagam varudha..). It was Sivakami, who insisted or rather provoked
    her father to leave Kanchi through the surangam. And she paid for not
    obeying Mahendrars words. For this, do Sivakami, really deserves the
    sympathy we all have for her?

    (So, the moral of the story is, never go against elders
    words ...hehehe.. how is it?)
  • Ok Satish :) I HAVE to put my tuppence worth here. I understand the concept
    of being respectful towards elders but it is precisely this policy of NOT
    questioning our elders/seniors that led to the "dark ages" in our country.
    Human Knowledge does not grow unless you question. Heck Nachiketa even
    questioned Yama.. so keen was he to learn. And Murugan taught Siva about
    Om.. so I do not really support this policy of unhesitatingly taking in
    everything the elders/seniors/teachers say. First listen.. then question..
    then when you are fully satisfied yourself , accept it. I think Lord
    Krishnan himself says something of that sort in the Geeta :-)

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