In the film Fiza, the protagonist Amaan undergoes a significant masculin-ization (Dyer 1992). In the beginning we can see Amaan laughing and joking with his mother and his sister. He is interested in the aesthetic aspects of
art and painting. We can also see him laughing. In these scenes, the female side of Amaan is stressed, and thus there is a "feminization" of his body. This means that Amaan/Roshan, with his masculine body but soft heart, is the object of female erotic desire (Preckel 2003a). Later he is even shown as a vulnerable man and as a victim. His laughing at the beginning of the film can be interpreted as a kind of passiveness and thus as a symbol of "dangerous" feminization since a man always has to be active (Horst and Kleis, 108; Kirk-ham and Thumin). To counter this feminization of Amaan/Roshan, the hero is shown to have lost this ability to laugh in the middle of the film. After Amaan returns to Bombay, he sees a comedian in a park. Instead of joining the laughing audience, he starts to fight two villains who disturb the scene. This is the point where the process of Amaan's masculinization starts.
This masculinization reaches its definitive climax when the male protagonist prepares himself for the jihad. Amaan/Roshan can be seen performing martial arts as if he had not done anything else since his childhood. He is perfectly handling the nunchako [two sticks connected by a chain or a rope]. This creates an aura of invulnerability and control (Preckel 2003b, 221; Shary 2002, 72). His muscles and physical abilities are the embodiment of masculinity [rajuliyat]. Hrithik Roshan clearly follows the tradition of actors like Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger—especially when he wears the same type of clothes, namely armless shirts, or the quasi-obligatory "muscle-shirts." Masculine control over his own body is further underlined by the black ninja mask, which plays an important role as a symbol for terrorists. Some other symbols for the (Islamic) masquerade of the mujahidun are the kaffiyya, the traditional Palestinian head wear. They are, on the one hand, a sign for the pan-Islamic solidarity; on the other hand, they are a symbol of the rebellion against injustice. By means of these symbols, the male protagonist undergoes a process of anonymization and dehumanization.
Not only does Amaan/Roshan undergo this process, but so does the female protagonist, Fiza. After Amaan vanishes, she is no longer enduring her role as a victim of male violence. She decides not to submit to her fate [qadar] like her mother does but starts actively searching for her brother. Fiza's masculinization is further illustrated when she is harassed by two villains and finds the will to fight them, saying that she is no longer a weak and uninformed [be-shurur] woman. She even throws a bottle filled with acid at them. This masculinization is additionally seen in the clothes Fiza wears. At the beginning of the film, she is dressed in the traditional shalwar-qameez. Later, during the search for her brother, she wears jeans and a blouse. Then she dances in a disco in a trendy and fashionable leather outfit, and thus demonstrates that she wants to have the same freedom men have, even to flirt with whom she wants and when she wants.
The development of Fiza's character is foreshadowed by the choice of her
name. In Arabic, "fiza" means wideness and openness, so perhaps it is a symbol for her open-mindedness. This indeed is the description of Fiza at the beginning of the film. In Arabic the name normally is pronounced Fida, which echoes "fida,'' which means "to ransom'' or ''devoting oneself to save another.'' It is this word which is used as a synonym for assassin or suicide attack in an Islamic context. In Fiza, the female protagonist devotes herself to the search for her brother to preserve national integrity, and finally sacrifices her personal happiness and that of the family by killing that brother (Preckel 2003a).
The climax of Fiza's masculinization is finally reached when, at the end of the film, she takes the machine gun and kills Amaan, who does not see any further positive possibilities in his life. The message of the film is that terrorism is the escalation and even exaggeration of masculinity. Aggression and violence proceed from male members of the Muslim community. The excessive lifestyle of male Islam makes men, as well as women, victims. Out of the feeling of despair, women also undergo masculinization and commit acts of violence and destruction. The result is that traditional family values are destroyed and the intact family is no longer durable. The implication is that with the destruction of the family, the survival of the whole nation is endangered. The film definitely offers no solution to the conflict, except escaping from the world by committing suicide—which, by the way, is forbidden in Islam.
There are several parallels between al-Abwab al-moghlaka and Fiza. Although Mohammed does not have exceptional physical features, as Amaan does, one can say that he undergoes a masculinization, too. His masculin-ization can be seen in his physical features first. At the beginning of the film, Mohammed looks like a boy. Especially in his face, one can see his soft features, which remind us of a boy. These features have completely vanished by the end of the film. His features become hard, and he dresses more like a typical Egyptian adult than as a boy. For example, he leaves aside his sneakers (Western symbols), which are a present from his father. But Mohammed's masculinization is primarily psychical. He is convinced that he has to assume all responsibilities for his family. He also wants to reverse the roles of the one who has the authority (parents) and the one who has to obey (child). Shaikh Khalid further stresses Mohammed's'' duty'' to be a man who is able to care for a family. This means that Mohammed should observe his family members and correct their behavior when necessary. Mohammed and his mother start to argue about this: he tells her that she should not leave home, and if it becomes necessary, she should be veiled. He shouts at her: ''A woman who is not veiled will be an hung up by her own hair and burn in hell. God told all women not to leave home. Thus, you are a sinner.'' When Fatma tells her son to obey her and to stop talking like that, he says: ''I definitely will not obey. Obedience is not accorded to a sinner.'' At this point of the story, Mohammed is more likely to obey his interpretation of Islam than to obey his mother.
Was this article helpful?