I’m done! With the dozen films I randomly checked out from the library just because they had Malayalam in the description. I regret nothing! Some of them were good, some were bad, but I ended up with a fairly broad idea of Malayalam film and culture, instead of the narrow perspective I would have gotten by just watching the very newest, very highest quality, films. And for the grande finale, I got to watch a film that was actually pretty close to what I would have chosen on purpose!
Chocolate is definitely related to the modern rom-coms with strong female characters that first got me into this (Bangalore Days, Ustad Hotel, Ohm Shanti Oshaana). And looking at the wikipedia article, it looks like it might have been one of the first of these films of the modern era? Is that correct?
Anyway, it was super super cute! Our heroines are part of an all girls college that is considering going co-ed. They don’t want boys to join, because they enjoy being the “boys” of the school. That is, the student leaders, the toughest and roughest people on campus. And they are completely fine with using their parents’ regressive concepts of girls needing to be “protected” from boys to achieve their goals. The villain of the film is the girl who leads the pro-boy brigade, just because she wants to flirt and romance boys.
That sounds kind of like slut-shaming, but this is where the way our hero is presented comes in. Of course, the one boy entered as a test case turns out to be the rough and rowdy son of one of the teachers. Basically, the male version of our heroine. But he has no interest in the evil girl. Because her personality doesn’t appeal to him, because he is actually interested in women as people, not just as objects. It is the whole idea of standard assumptions about young male-female relationships that is being challenged, whether it is the young woman who wants the college to go co-ed because she thinks any boy who enters will obviously be available to her because boys don’t care about personality or relationships, they just want sex; or the father who is against it because he assumes that as soon as the college goes co-ed his daughter will elope, because young people have no self-control. Both sides are wrong, the correct attitude is that of the school principal who argues that a natural and healthy interaction between the sexes will better prepare the students for the world.
This comes to a head at the very end when (spoilers!) the evil girl arranges for our heroine’s best friend and the hero to be found in a compromising situation. Both his mother and her father assume they have obviously been misbehaving, as do the police officers who arrest them for “immoral behavior”. But the wise police detective immediately rejects the charges, because there is no basis for them beyond an assumption that a boy and girl, found fully clothed and not touching each other in a hostel, must obviously be doing “wrong things.” And the school principal similarly rejects the charges, as do their young friends who track it all back to evil girl. The film makes it very clear that the real danger is not in young people coming together, it is in the sick assumptions of society who cannot conceive of non-sexual interactions between the sexes.
Oh, and the love story is also super cute. They hate each other, they come to like each other as friends, there is a misunderstanding, her father is supportive and gives great advice, and then it all works out at the end. And the second love story is pretty nice too, with the heroine’s best friend. I just feel bad for the 3rd friend of the trio, who doesn’t get anybody at the end! But she wears glasses, so maybe she is supposed to be the “smart” one who wants a career more than a love story?
Oh, and the songs were great too, especially the one that starts about 18 minutes in: