So, I did something wee bit foolish. After learning a little more about Malayalam films, and watching Ohm Shanti Oshaana, I went into my library system and requested every DVD they have with the word “Malayalam” somewhere in the description. Which is 12 DVDs, and they all arrived at once, and now I have to watch 36 hours of Malayalam films in 7 days. Which may turn out to not be humanly possible and I will end up returning some unwatched. And they are definitely not all getting full reviews!
Over the weekend, I was able to finish 2, start and reject 1, and reject 2 others just based on the box (yes, I judged a DVD by its cover). So only 7 left!
Punjabi House-I realized about 15 minutes in that I had actually seen the Shahid Kapoor and Kareena remake of this, and sort of knew what was going to happen. Which is good, because otherwise this plot would have been very confusing. Although actually, it was a lot less confusing in the Malayalam version. The hero, in the first half hour, decides to kill himself because he owes money to everybody. And also, in the hopes that his childhood sweetheart will be able to move on and forget him instead of always remaining faithful. And then we completely switch settings and plot, when he is rescued by some fisherman, pretends to mute in order to avoid telling them his name, and ends up working at the house of a local wealthy Punjabi family. By the way, so odd to have the Punjabis be the sort of exotic and interesting outsiders instead of the norm, like they often are in Hindi films. And then there is a whole thing about the mute daughter of the house who they are all trying to find a nice boy for, who will take her out of love not just because of a dowry, even though she is mute. Their love story was super cute, of course, but it felt so far removed and disconnected from the whole fake suicide opening, not to mention his poor childhood sweetheart who thought he was dead! And why have the whole mute thing at all, really? The plot would work just as well without it! But in this one, the two halves actually felt integrated at the end. They made two points a little more clearly so I could get why it had to be like this. First, the idea is that his childhood sweetheart’s penance by living as a widow when she thought he was dead served it’s purpose in bringing him “back to life”, saving him from the ocean, landing him in a good place, helping him find his way home. So it wasn’t just a sort of pointless and odd side-track for the film and the character, there was actual value to her actions. Second, they make it clear that his first sweetheart gives him up to his second one, because she realizes that his love for the mute girl is actually rarer and more valuable than his love for her. It’s a feminist lesson! It’s not about who loves him more or who he loves more, it’s about which woman is in a weaker position in society and therefore in more need of a loving and considerate husband. Not only does his first fiancee stand aside for a disabled woman who is in greater need, his whole family stands aside and lets him move in with another household, because it is what his new bride needs and it is the best choice for her. So, ultimately, the suicide at the start is meaningful, because he does “die” and is reborn as purely a devoted husband and nothing else.
Adiverukal-My first Mohan Lal film! And it was SO CONFUSING! It reminded me a lot of the Amitabh multi-starrers from the 70s and 80s, which I also found confusing at first. The thing with multi-starrers is, you have to keep track of who everyone is. In a regular film, the hero is easy to recognize, because he is the only one doing heroic things. But in this, there was Mohan Lal, and also two other guys! And then each of them had a heroine, and one heroine was one of the other guy’s sister, and the other heroine was the villain’s cousin-sister, and I just got SO CONFUSED! But I did get the message about protecting our forests and respecting the Tribals, and that was cool, and kind of unusual, and not something I remembered seeing before.
Rahasya Police-I got about half an hour into this one before I gave up. So many characters! And without being able to understand the relationship words like I can in Hindi (Bhaiya, Bhabhi, Mausi, etc), I was really lost. And then I wiki’d it for help, and saw that apparently there is a double role in it too? I can’t handle all that! Also, it’s a crime film about murders, which is just not my cup of tea. But if you tell me it is actually brilliant and I am missing out, I will give it another shot.
Ghost House Inn–Ghost House Inn? It is clearly all a Bhoot Bungla reference! And I won’t get the jokes until I watch the original.
Vanaprastha-The cover trumpets “Official Selection of Cannes Film Festival” and the back of the box says that it stars “Mohanlal and Suhasini along with the traditional Kathakali Masters of Dance.” I don’t want to watch a Cannes type film with a bunch of classical dancers! Blech! Skipping this one! (again, unless someone in the comments says it is actually more lowbrow and good time than it looks).