Malayalam film ‘22 female Kottayam’ was widely publicized by the film maker Aashiq Abu himself as a feminist movie. Was it so? How good is the movie?
Let me examine this film in 2 ways. First its merits and demerits as a film: then about its message in context of gender.
As a film in the midst of contemporary Malayalam mainstream cinema, the effort was commendable. The theme though heavily borrowed from Hollywood was handled well. The casting was good and the acting too. The romantic scenes were scripted and visualized nicely and naturally. The violent scenes were shown in a sensitive manner. Though rape was the central theme, there was no vulgar show of flesh. The film moves in a fairly rapid pace with enough twist and turn to keep the interest of viewers.
As it happens in most films the script becomes weak in the second half. The actions of revenge looked too easy and in a way very predictable.
Though the Director proclaims that this is a feminist movie I cannot agree with that. This is more of a revenge movie. The only change from the usual theme is it is the heroine who is mainly involved in revenge.
In many ways the movie can be called an anti-feminist movie. The heroine is afraid to report the rape in true patriarchal fashion. The film tends to give the message that killing the rapist is the only option available to the victim. It also loudly proclaims that the main strength of a woman is her sex appeal, whether to lure the rapist into a trap or to earn money for good living. The Director it seems does not see anything wrong in showing an indecent marriage proposal by an old and dying cancer patient to the nurse [heroine]. That was actually sexual harassment at work.
In the final scene the heroine it seems is still leaving the door ajar for the hero who had cruelly betrayed her. All actions of revenge were possible with the help of a male, who in turn is helping the heroine not as a friend but for access to her body.
The take home message of this movie can be termed as the following.
1. Women are too trusting and can be easily duped by show of love.
2. A victim of rape has nothing to lose. She can take the law into her own hands and take revenge.
Though the Director has not understood what feminism is, the film is still worth a watch.
Malayalam movie ‘Adaminde makan Abu’ (Adam’s son Abu) was a big disappointment. The weight of expectations might have been the reason, but that is natural as the film had won several awards including the National award for best feature film last year.
The story is about an ageing Muslim couple living in Malabar area of Kerala. Abandoned by their son working in Gulf for unknown/unconvincing reason they are living with a meager income. Abu is a street vendor of perfumes and natural remedies while his wife Aysumma earns money by selling milk of her cow. They have a dream, to do the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca.
By saving all the money they earned by living frugally, Abu begins making arrangements for the trip. Instead of applying for the cheaper Government sponsored trip Abu is seen approaching a private travel agency. They had to sell the Cow and a tree to foot the bill for the pilgrimage. But the tree was worth much less than their expectation and Abu was short of cash. The timber merchant (a Christian), a friend (Hindu school teacher) and the travel agency themselves were willing to help Abu, but he refuses. According to Abu there should not be any debt pending with people other than close relatives before going to Haj. Film ends with the couple resigned to day-dreaming about the pilgrimage.
The film is slow paced and you will not miss anything if u doze off for few minutes. Almost all the characters seems to be ‘white’ goody goody ones, with no resemblance to real life. It seems all the people in the World were conspiring to help the couple to go to Haj except their son who is never shown.Though the couple is portrayed as poor, the clothes they wear inside and outside the house look always new and freshly ironed. Sometime the film looks like an advertisement for the travel agency dealing with Haj pilgrimage, with unusual prominence given to its (real) name.
Saving grace is the acting of Salim Kumar and Zareena Wahab. The songs are good, but the visualization not so. Madhu Ambat’s photography is good, but beautiful pictures of the horizon stands out of the film.
It was difficult to believe this film won so many awards and even became India’s official entry to Oscars. Director Salim Ahmed must be very lucky to get so many accolades for an ordinary debut film.