With my in-laws in town, I've been watching a fewTamil movies in the last couple of weeks. The movies are a lot more slick than they were ten years ago, but the story lines and implicit assumptions still make me cringe.

Take for example, this rather formulaic, but well-executed, cops-and-gangsters movie that we watched.

In one scene, the cop and his girlfriend are driving to Pondicherry, a city a couple hundred kilometers south of Madras (Chennai). Which is simply the excuse for a set of scenes set along the gorgeous Coramandel coast. In the entire scene, the jeep they drive is right on the median. Even in the movies, Indian drivers don't drive in their lane! Even if the driver is a cop.

Or maybe especially if he is a cop, because normal rules didn't seem to apply to him. In an earlier scene, the policeman-hero is lighting a cigarette (it seems that every male figure in the movie smokes -- every single one of them) when he sees the lady-lead and asks her where she lives. Where she lives. She doesn't tell him. A few scenes later, she figures out that he's a policeman, so she apologizes for not answering his question. Apologizes. Somehow, being a cop makes it ok to ask a member of the public anything.

And of course, just as American sitcoms feature out-of-shape men and hot women, so do the Tamil movies. Except that in the very color and class conscious Indian society, the not-so-desirable men are from the "lower classes" while the very-desirable woman is light-skinned, has long hair and went to IIT Madras. I'm not kidding. IIT-M. That's one of the things that makes her hot.

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