Monday Malayalam: Kumbalangi Nights, The Freedom of the Outcasts

I saw it! Thanks to all of you telling me I had to! And there are some truly beautiful moments. But it’s also very Malayalam, isn’t it? Any other film industry, this would be a tragic gritty story. Malayalam industry, it’s feel good!

This is a very verbal film. Which is a problem for me in two ways. First, of course, I don’t speak Malayalam. That’s on me, not the film, it’s a good thing for movies to have their own languages and cultural touchstones and all the rest of it. But the second part is kind of a little on the film. It’s a verbal film, rather than a visual one. There are subtle moments that could have been conveyed more through the images than through the dialogue. My taste in film has always been visual rather than dialogue driven, that’s why I like Indian movies to begin with, because they are so visual. A dialogue heavy film is always going to turn me off a little bit. And a dialogue heavy film in a language I don’t understand is going to be hard for me to fully appreciate.

Image result for kumbalangi nights

I’m putting that upfront because I know I did not like this film as much as some of you did, and I was trying to figure out why. It’s not just not having the language, it’s that too much of the film was non-visual. But that’s not a flaw in the film necessarily. From the moments of pure visual storytelling that were included, I know the director has that tool in his tool box. For instance, that we see one household almost always at night and one almost always during the day, until the dramatic ending when the night invades the day. But he also wanted to tell a story where the words used by the characters were an important part in the overall meaning.

I think I can understand what I was missing by not having the words. From what I could piece together it is the dialogue that turns this from a tragic film to more of a comic film. The turn of phrase in the fights between the family makes you laugh, tells you that it is okay to laugh at what is happening instead of cry. I assume that is what was happening, because I was watching this in a sold-out theater and everyone was laughing during scenes that, to me, read more like serious drama (just based on what the English subtitles were saying). Part of the humor, I am guessing, comes from the very sincere and tormented acting styles as folks deliver these silly lines. And the very dramatic background music cues.

Come to think of it, that sensation of “something doesn’t quite fit between what is being shown and what is being said” ties in to the story this film is telling. There is one set of characters that is an open book, they say what they feel and what they mean, there is nothing hidden there. And there is another set, that is closed, impenetrable, and a little disturbing because it is so hard to understand them. And both sets deserve credit for being able to play the roles they play.

Shane Nigam continues his slow growth from “is that guy a good actor and also kind of hot? I’m not sure, maybe?” to “I am excited in two ways every time he shows up onscreen!” Fahadh Faasil continues his willingness to take the interesting part whether or not it is the hero’s role. Soubin Shahir is wonderful, melding comic and dramatic without ever feeling like he goes too far. Mathew Thomas has a great face and mostly just has to look young and innocent. The women are there too, and are also good, especially Grace Antony in a difficult role as an unreadable new wife. But this is mostly a movie about men. And that’s okay, like Parava this is a movie that deals with men growing up in a layered and complex way, it doesn’t ignore the women, it just wants to talk about the very specific experience of being a man in the world.

Image result for shane nigam kumbalangi nights
Yep, definitely hot now

It also wants to talk about family and, more than that, eco-systems. It is not a coincidence that this movie is set in a green tourism zone. It is about people who fit into this environment, work with it and flow with it, and those who fight against it, try to organize and control everything. There is a metaphor used often of our central family living at the end of the islet where folks throw their trash. But another way to think of it is the other people are trying to control the mess, to get rid of anything that doesn’t fit in with their perfect view of the world. But our heroes, they welcome those things, they find a place for them, make them fit, help the whole world live together in a harmonic system, allow nature and natural instincts to flourish. They all start by wanting to escape this place, blaming nature for being nature (whether it is themselves or their relatives or just the “messy” way their house looks). But in the end, the resolution is to give up, to accept, to let what is, be.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

I’m gonna start with the bare bones of the plot, just to get it out of the way. There are 4 brothers. The two oldest are step brothers, born to their mother and father from previous marriages, Soubin Shahir and Sreenath Bhasi (musician/actor, I always enjoy his performances). The two youngest, Shane Nigam and Mathew Thomas are full brothers. Sreenath lives away from the others in an musicians’ colony. Soubin and Shane stumble through their days surviving on the small amount of money that Soubin makes from running an ironing business, and fishing when they are hungry. And Mathew has a future, has a scholarship to a good school, but dreams of his family being happy and Soubin and Shane not fighting so much, and Sreenath coming home.

Shane falls in love with Anna Ben, a young woman with dreams, she works at the local resort and runs a guest house out of her uncle’s home. Anna Ben’s family has a new brother-in-law, Fahadh Fasil, who is a little odd and hard to read. Shane and Soubin approach him about an engagement, and Fahadh tells Shane to get a real job. Shane goes to work at a fish factory, and hates it. Soubin is angrier and angrier around the home, especially when Shane says that they will need to move out after he gets married. He fights Shane, Sreenath shows up and hits him, he is upset and goes off to talk to his friend and employee about how sad he is that his brother’s no longer love him, he doesn’t have anything. He tries to kill himself, his friend tries to stop him, and dies himself. Soubin is miserable and asks Mathew to take him to a doctor, he talks to a psychiatrist about his guilt and misery, and then goes to apologize to the widow of his friend and ends up taking her and her newborn baby back to their house. Meanwhile, Sreenath has started dating a young African-American tourist staying at Anna’s guesthouse. Fahadh finds them together and throws her out, Sreenath takes her back to the family home as well. Mathew is beginning to have a family again, the two women and the baby, plus his brothers are around more.

Shane quits his job and goes back to fishing with his family, even though it is “low-class”. Fahadh is still against the marriage, and Shane and Anna plan to elope. But Anna’s sister Grace Antony tells Fahadh and he wakes her up in the middle of the night and they have a confrontation. Grace stands up for her sister, and Fahadh loses his mind. Shane and his brothers come to find out what is happening because Anna isn’t answer her phone, Fahadh tries to kill them but they finally catch him in a fishing net and tie him up, and rescue Grace Antony and Anna and their aunt who have been beaten and tied up. It ends with a family wedding at the family house, with the widow and her baby, the African-American tourist, and all 4 brothers living their together.

There is a grand sweep to the film. The 4 brothers are all looking for a family, and looking anywhere but at what they have. Soubin reveres and misses his father, and has adopted his employee as a second little brother instead of trying to build a better relationship with the brothers he has. Sreenath has gone to live with the musicians, forming a new family with them. And Shane falls in love and dreams of a new family and a new life with Anna. The first half is about them trying to break away over and over again, Sreenath and Shane starting their relationships, Soubin finding a substitute brother in his employee, even Mathew lying to his friends at school about his home life and dreaming of his mother. And the second half is coming to accept what they have and who they are. They don’t need to create some perfect version of life, with a modern factory job and fixing up the house and all the other superficial elements. They don’t even have to convince their mother to return home to create their perfect family. They just have to accept what they have and what they are, forget outside status. Fish for a living, bring home an African-American girlfriend (so important that she is both African and American, so with the freedom and open mind and outsider quality of an American, but without the status symbol of having a white girlfriend), accept a widow and her baby as a blessing and a “sister” in their household. And give up and elope with the woman you love instead of waiting for a perfect wedding with family blessings.

Their circumstances don’t substantially change from the start to the finish of the film, they don’t even plaster the walls of their house. But their feelings about the circumstances change. Fishing is a real job and an option, it’s okay to get married and bring your new wife back to your unplastered house, everything is fine because they learn to see it as fine, to see it as a good thing.

And the flipside is what is happening in Fahadh Faazil’s house. Everything seems perfect because they are told it is perfect. One little trick the film plays is that in the first few scenes we think of Fahadh as being a desirable son-in-law and a successful man. He dresses well and carefully, he has a Royal Enfield, his wife is wearing gold, and his in-laws treat him with respect. But then we see him at his job, a barber with a little shop. It’s not a bad job, but it isn’t office work or even as good as his sister-in-law’s job as a tour guide at the resort. And then there is the oddness that he is living in his wife’s house, really his wife’s uncle’s house, and taking it over as the head of household. But he has done nothing to earn this nice house, he is just living off the labor of his wife’s family. The longer he stays in the house, the odder it seems. But he is the son-in-law, and he acts like it is his house and his decision to make in every way and everyone kind of accepts it, assumes that he really is wise and important and worthy of respect. Just as they assume that Shane Nigam is a bad matrimonial prospect in comparison because he doesn’t have a regular job or a plan and his family house is on the bad side of town and not even plastered.

I said in the “No Spoilers” section that the performances in this film are divided into people it is impossible to get a read on, and ones who are an open book. Fahadh Faazil is impossible to read. It’s a great performance, he is always smiling and laughing and seems to be harmless, and yet there is an undercurrent of oddness, mostly in how hard to read he is, how he never seems to really feel anything about anything. Grace Antony though was the one who really surprised me. Fahadh I expected something special both from his performance and his character, he is the producer after all. But Grace Antony perfectly played a difficult character. She is a new bride, so she is eager to please her husband, smiling all the time, rushing after him when he leaves the room, seemingly tranquil and content in her marriage. She trusts her husband, telling him secrets from her sister’s life, doing whatever he asks of her. In an early scene, when Fahadh is awkwardly insulting of her uncle, she turns it into a joke about her uncle’s cooking. Later, she is triumphing her ability to maintain peace to Anna, and Anna says that she merely buried their uncle further in his grave. As we, the viewer, come to trust Fahadh less and less, she seems more and more like she is betraying her sister and her family. It appears that in her pride as a new bride, she doesn’t care about her family any more, only appearances.

But then at the very end of the film, Fahadh wakes Anna in the middle of the night and yells at her, and Grace Antony stands up for her sister, fearlessly. It’s that “fearless” that is a surprise. In a different film, or with a different actress, it would be played in such a way that makes us feel she feared her husband and that is why she went along with him until now. But instead it is played that she obeyed him not out of a specific fear of him as a person, but more a general sense of what the right way to behave was, she was brainwashed into believing he was a desirable husband and worthy of her respect, that she was just being asked to do the “normal” things a wife should. It wasn’t fear she was hiding in earlier scenes, it was doubt, doubt that Fahadh really was worthy of her respect, doubt that this was the best marriage for her. And as soon as she confronts him, he backs down, goes to hide in a corner. There is still no fear, just an awareness that he is acting in an odd manner. That’s what makes the ending so powerful, someone who has always seemed a little “odd” but more funny than scary, suddenly revealing a terrifying side to him.

Grace Antony, and her mother Ambika Rao, are where the most interesting statement about masculinity lies. It’s not just about who men are (Soubin and Shane always physically fighting because it’s the only way they know to express their feelings, Thomas Mathew wanting a family life but not knowing how to make it, and so on), it’s about the society around them that lets them be that way. Grace Antony and Ambika Rao accept unquestioningly that Fahadh is the head of the household, deserves obedience in all ways, because that is how they have been trained to think. More than that, it is easy and comfortable to think that way. Better to just let Fahadh take the lead on everything than make an effort and think outside the lines. Anna is just as ready to think inside the lines at the start. She wants her relationship with Shane to follow a nice respectable path, they don’t kiss until after engagement, they get engaged with the approval of their families, he gets a job, they find a nice place together. But spending more time with Shane and the “we are already trash, so there are no rules” kind of life he lives makes her rethink things. She starts to stand up to Fahadh more and more at home and question her assumptions about a happy life and what a “husband” looks like. And her rebellion sparks a rebellion in Grace Antony which is when the patriarchy truly comes tumbling down. Fahadh can’t keep control through posturing any more, he has to resort to physical violence. He has to bring in chaos instead of order, destroy their lives once they learn they can live without him.

Really that’s what the whole film is about, chaos versus order. The 4 brothers, they live in chaos, they embrace chaos and lawlessness. Any effort at creating order leads to misery for them, even something as simple as Shane wanting a “normal” job and a “normal” marriage tears the family apart. But happiness comes once they let that go, accept the good in life because it is good for them. And then chaos becomes order, strangers become family, poverty becomes wealth, night becomes day.


34 thoughts on “Monday Malayalam: Kumbalangi Nights, The Freedom of the Outcasts

  1. Climax see to be forced, and Fahid is logically correct, by not allowing his sister in law to go into a bad place, and his ego got hurt when his wife opposed him,and turned into evil.

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    • But what is interesting is that Fahad married into the family with even less. Yes he has a business, but he is living off of his in-laws and in their house. Shane is offering a home that (while a bit dingy) is owned outright by his family. And if Anna’s uncle were alive, Fahad would have very little standing to even be involved in this discussion. The women standing up to him at the end are revealing that he has no real power over them, it is their house and their money, he is just living off of them.

      On Mon, Feb 25, 2019 at 4:11 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Its not unusual for men to move into their wives’ homes after marriage in Kerala. While it doesn’t happen a lot, and happened more in the past when the matri-linear system was popular, it might have been done in this situation because the family felt it was better the man moves in rather than Simi leave her mom and BabyMol. But looking at it another way – the Shammi’s family probably agreed to this arrangement because they knew he was crazy and this was just a compromise to get him married off to someone.

    What he wants is to be the head of the family. He practically bulldozes into their conversations and makes decisions for them. And Simi like you said is just figuring out her new husband.
    The dialogues were just beautiful – when Soubin’s friend’s wife who has resigned to the life she’s leading now and doesn’t even blame him for it, she says she’s just unlucky and has a cursed life. Bobby goes on to say she’s come to the right place – there’s nothing left to ruin. It was funny and heartbreaking all at the same time. The performances were all so brilliant – Soubin Shahir, Anna Ben, Shane Nigam and fahad but I think my favorite was Soubin.

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    • So, the son-in-law would move in because it is a matriarchy, right? So in that case, the assumption would be that the mother would be the head of the family after her brother died. Or at least co-head. They did such a good job of showing how it played out in all the little ways day by day, him undercutting the authority of the uncle before he died, then manouvering the mother into being grateful for his compliments and pretending he is doing her a favor by (literally) taking the head of the table. Even when Shane and Soubin come to talk to him the first time about Anna, he could have/should have said “thank you for coming to me, I will go home and talk about it with her mother”, but he didn’t. Right? And it all felt normal because he did it in a way that made everyone else think they were wrong and he was right. And yes about his family! The first scene when his assistant or whoever comes to drop off his clothes and doesn’t even take a ride home makes so much sense in context, they just wanted him off their hands.

      That dialogue was one that I actually caught how they messed it up. I think the English subtitles were something like “You have come to the right place because there is nothing left to ruin here”. But I caught “place” in the Malayalam at the end, so I think it was more like “You ruin things and this home is already ruined, so your correct spot is…here”. Even that isn’t quite right, but I think the meaning was supposed to be “you have found your home here because we are the place that will take in cursed and ruined things”.

      On Mon, Feb 25, 2019 at 6:24 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • The uncle is not the girls’ dad. He’s the Chittapan, so the mother’s sister’s husband (and he doesn’t die if I remember correctly)- which is why he says he and Fahad are birds of the sane feather because they married into the family. The girls’ dad passed away and he’s the one whose picture is garlanded in the house. The girls and the mom run the homestay

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        • Thank you! I saw the garlanded photo and the uncle wasn’t around any more, so I thought he was the one who died. So, the uncle just got kind of chased off after that awkward dinner? Is it ever addressed? I know at first Shane said they would need to talk to her uncle, but then he talks to Fahadh and the uncle doesn’t come up.

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          • Ya I think the uncle disappears after that. I was a little confused about the mom – were they implying she wasn’t normal? Frankie sees a dream where he’s drowning and the mom doesn’t react. And then later when they go to call her, why doesn’t she go back with them?

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          • I definitely remember a conversation between the brothers about how the mother was never “normal” and left after their father died, and they weren’t really surprised when she didn’t come back. But we never really got closure on how the father died, did we? there was a lot of talk about his kids killing him, but it was left vague, could have just meant the stress of raising 4 sons killed him.

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          • I don’t think their mother left because she was not “normal”. Frankie in one scene blames Saji (Soubin) for this. The first thing Soubin asks when they meet the mother is if there’s any problem between them (I think he calls her by name).

            My take is that the mother didn’t want to stay back as long as Soubin was staying in the house – they are unrelated and probably comparable age(I think in one scene Soubin says he took Srinath Bhasi to see the beach after he won his lottery or something).

            Also suggests the father was quite old and died of natural cause. In the present day we see how Soubin brings his friend’s wife who’s much junior to him.

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          • Mother definitely was abnormal cos Soubin says there always used to be the smell of pain balm around her and she is ill. ‘Avarkku vayya’ is what he says. He can identify it now that he has gone through a similar phase. It’s not clear whether mom left first or father died first. Common perception was that mother left because of Soubin(maybe after father’s death) which is disproved when mother refuses to stay with them even for a short while now and when there are already other women at home. Also seems like Soubin and Sreenath Bhasi had a warm relationship initially when their parents married each other.So the trouble was due to everything that followed-other kids arriving,the father dying and the mother leaving.The mother’s abandonment seemed to be the big common issue for all four brothers which they learn to get over after meeting with her and Soubin is the one who pulls them together.

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          • I was confused about Sreenath and Soubin’s age. He tells the story of taking them all to the beach, sounding like he was considerably older than his brothers. But then he also talks about how he and Sreenath played happily together since the night their parents got married, as though they are the same age.

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          • I also remember the playing together part and got a bit confused. Probably he was playing with his much younger brother! 🙂

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  3. I think the movie makes commentary-subtle and overt-on a lot of things typically associated with the Indian way of living.Patriarchy and the male domination of female inside the home,a traditional family that is apparently a safe place for women v/s a dysfunctional one that is not respectable, the lack of communication and identification of mental health issues that makes folk shut down emotionally, dignity of labour when Bobby wonders if fishing is too low profile a job,the ‘cursed’ life of an immigrant labour ,the importance of consent in a relationship when one of the most masculine movies of recent times is playing onscreen,the moral policing of the American lady by Fahadh etc are few I can recall. I also liked that the mother who abandoned the brothers is not judged and Saji,having had mental health issues himself is the one who is empathetic to her. Also loved that all the characters,including Bobby’s friend and the girlfriend who defends him when Bobby makes fun of his looks are treated with nothing but respect.Not a single character- except maybe Fahadh’s- is judged for their choices.I loved that there are many insights given about every character and situation by small bits and pieces here and there and some silent stretches.
    The other thing I loved about the movie is the closeness felt with nature when watching the movie. The cool waters,the greenery,the bright nights,the food all seemed to be right there in the theater.I have a friend’s sister who looks and talks like Baby Mol and I’m in love with Anna Ben.She is a great respresentation of an independent Malayali girl who may appear frail and thin but isn’t afraid to go after what she wants or talk her mind.
    All the actors were great -Soubin and Shane Nigam were revelations,those are not their usual roles. I am a Fahadh Faazil fan but felt he slightly overplayed Shammi.The whole climax seemed a bit overblown and some subtlity would have been welcome. Having said that,his presence in the movie is what drew people to the theater before word of mouth caught on. So full credit to him for taking up such an uncoventional role when his stardom is at the peak and for setting the stage for others also to shine.Having a star like Fahadh play the character who embodies toxic musculinity is also a master stroke in conveying the message against patriarchy so clearly to the audience.
    Though the main characters are men,the women are the causes of change in their lives-including Fahadh’s-and I felt it is a movie about men and women learning to live with each other and helping each other in the process.The complete ‘man’ who likes to control women needs to be thrown out for that to happen.
    I agree that this is very Malayalam not because it is ‘tragic gritty’ but because it shows situations & issues anyone can relate to and characters who are very much aware of their situations, are angry,sad, happy, in love, in pain-all of which I felt along with them.They may or may not have survived the weather but it made me so happy when they did.

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    • Just realized being used to seeing newcomers like Anna Ben perfect the small,frail,fiery girl with inner turmoil is the reason why I roll eyes at Alia Bhatt’s emotional breakdowns and nostril flaring in every film.

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    • Even I felt Fahad overplayed a bit – especially when the rest were so natural, but maybe it was pitched at that level to make a point and keep us guessing. The climax reminded me of Varathan where there was a role reversal. Don’t think it was intentional but I guess they wanted it to be cinematic in a good v/s evil way.

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    • You are right about Fahadh raising the profile, in my theater he even got cheers when he appeared, which is the first time I had seen that with a Malayalam film.

      Anna Ben was so interesting to me in context with her sister and her mother. At first she seems like the other two women, silent and pleasant and kind of going along to get along. But as her relationship with Shane grows, and she starts to want something outside of the household, her aggressiveness grows as well. She was always strong, just didn’t feel the need to reveal her strength or fight for something until there was something she wanted. I can picture the mother sort of teaching the two girls to behave “properly”, be smiling and soft-spoken and undemanding, because that is how she is, but underneath all that smiling gentleness, both daughters had a lot of strength to draw on when they needed it.

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  4. Hello!
    Wanted to clarify a few things based on my understanding:

    (1) The girls’ uncle does not die. They visit his house for dinner. That’s all. From what’s happening there, the uncle’s wife is working abroad(who we see in a video call), and the uncle is the one taking care of the household – children, cooking, cleaning, etc). Kind of a role reversal.
    It’s not very uncommon in Kerala. The girls study hard, gets a job (mostly nursing), goes abroad, financially supports her family, builds a house, etc and usually marries at a comparatively older age (remember Lichi from Angamaly Diaries?).

    (2) It’s not uncommon either for guys to move in to the wife’s house if there’s no male member in the family. It’s kind of similar to the man being “adopted” by the women’s family – seen as a kind of “sacrifice” the guy is making leaving his own family and continuing the family lineage of his wife’s (His so-called “family name” will change to that of the girl’s). This is the reason why the uncle says he likes Shammy because they are similar.

    (3) Shammy’s character IMHO was deliberately left confusing so people would talk about him after the movie, increasing curiosity.
    I thought he had some kind of a “narcissistic personality disorder”. Fahadh in one TV show said he doesn’t know any person like Shammy, and it’s only the script writer who knows him. Baradwaj Rangan had a very interesting take – he considers Shammy to be representing a concept rather than a real character.

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    • 1) Thank you! That super confused me.

      2) Thanks! This movie then is confronting a specific situation, and questioning it, yes? Asking if the idea of a men moving into the household and making things better and safer is right or wrong.

      3) I thought they were careful with his character to make it not quite a mental illness, because that would excuse some of his behavior, remove it from a statement on the setting he is in. If he was hallucinating or something, than his reactions would no longer be related to what was happening around him. So he loses control at the end, but not because he turns manic or starts hearing voices, just because he loses control. There are stories of stuff like that though, right? People who suddenly snap and kill their families and it’s not clear why.

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  5. My take on the mother is that she possibly had been beaten by the father — the pain balm line is what signaled that to me. And Soubin being the oldest brother may have been more aware of that long history. Also, I think she is a nun, and also mentally ill. So she is at peace where she is, and is telling the brothers she can’t play that role of mother in the home for them again.

    The death of the father and why Soubin is filled with guilt about it is still a mystery to me. Why did he break down in that way at the therapist? I felt that the subtitles let me down there in what was really going on with him. My audience did not laugh at those breakdown scenes, but I have read that they produce nervous laughter — the therapist is also crying — in audiences in Kerala. I mentioned it in my video review, and commenters from Kerala have said not all audience laughed, or that they laughed out of release — at seeing a man being able to let go of his feelings. There’s a cultural dimension to those scenes that I don’t think I as an outsider can quite get.

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    • One thing my Mom told me from her mental health training is that there are actually cultural dimensions to mental illness. It’s not clear way, but certain kinds of mental disorders only appear within certain cultures and not others. I was so glad to see that Soubin sought out help for his mental problems, but also interested that the doctor did not treat him in a way that matches the Western style of treatment (simple things, like talking across a desk instead of in a more relaxed environment). And yet it obviously worked for him.

      On Tue, Feb 26, 2019 at 10:27 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • I think Soubin felt guilt/shamefor a lot of things- starting with the mother’s abandonment,not being able to take care of his younger siblings-he asks the youngest brother how he managed to study just before asking him to taken to the therapist.There’s also the society shaming of them being a family of half brothers & step brothers. Soubin, probably at the impressionable age took the brunt of the jokes made about his father’s second marriage & the brothers he acquired through it. And finally he was living off the Tamilian iron man-the only guy who helped him and then became the reason for his death. I guess he felt utterly hopeless and useless after that.
      Pain balm is used in translation for Amrutanjan which is commonly used for headache-like Vicks.So more like she used the headache balm constantly which I think is meant to hint that all was not well with her head. No indication of dad beating her. I think they wanted to show how a dysfunctional family can still be a loving family irrespective of how it became dysfunctional.

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      • I read that line as a headache balm too somehow. Maybe because the opening with the youngest brother remembering his mother seemed so much like mental issues, her turning and walking away as he was drowning.

        I guess that’s the theme of the whole movie? People finally staying and helping instead of turning away when other’s are drowning. Saving Anna and her family in the end, but also taking in the widow and her baby, Anna taking a chance on Shane, and so on and so forth. Reaching out a hand to help pull them up instead of leaving them to struggle and try to save themselves.

        On Tue, Feb 26, 2019 at 1:32 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • Yeah, I think that’s what the dream of him drowning signaled. That the mother just left and didn’t go to save him, she was not normal. She probably understands this and doesn’t have it in her to go back and care for the kids. It’s nice the movie didn’t judge her for that decision. Sometimes you have to keep yourself away from your loved ones to keep them safe and happy.

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  6. I reaaallllly enjoyed the movie. Was thinking about the movie for a week.
    I felt their mother as a very confident person. Generally in movies mother is always shown as sacrificing and forgiving person . I think the writer want to change that . From Sajis dialogue we can understand that she suffered a lot because of them n there is no need for her to return home.

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    • What I liked is that it showed her “happy ending” wasn’t to be with her sons. Usually the mother is supposed to be miserable unless she is with her children all the time. In this film, she needed space and peace and more than family and that is okay.

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  7. Almost every dialogue of Bobby was funny even in very sad situations. Shane and soubin are fastly becoming my favourites. Did you notice all there names end with ee sound

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    • That’s wonderful! I hope he is able to parlay that into more support for his films as a writer/director, Parava was quite good and I’d like to see what he does next.

      On Wed, Feb 27, 2019 at 9:38 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  8. Saw this last night. Wanted to piggy-back on a few observations in regards to Patriarchy and feminist perspectives:

    Firstly, I felt there was a lot of what is seen as healthy and unhealthy coping with the pressures of society and what it means to ‘be a man’. Here we have the attempted kissing, the pressure to work, and the bottling up of emotions that lead the male characters to trouble, but in the second half they start to break things down by communicating, going to therapy (THIS SCENE SEEMED SO INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT), and being open. Also, I liked that even though their lives did change as women entered their lives, it wasn’t a result of the women’s labor of ‘changing’ or pushing them to adapt.
    Fahadh’s character was the embodiment of patriarchy and I love the powerful extended metaphor in that we allow certain things to take place in the home without realizing how insidious it is until the power is tested. He quietly, unsettlingly moves in, manipulates, and literally sets himself at the head of the family, then goes nuts when tampered with. He says lines about ‘being a hero’ and explodes on all around him, leading to this symbolism at the end, where the men cast the net, reign him in, and be-rid of him. I interpreted this as, if we want the patriarchy and power balance to correct itself, men MUST be strong in calling out what is violent and broken and make an effort to fix, not solely leave it to the women.

    I also really liked the portrayal of a western woman in a Mollywood movie, as past movies have somewhat failed at that (Ustad Hotel, etc). I also like how dark skinned malayalees are given more screen time and even being presented as an attractive character.

    I do agree that the first half of the movie especially I felt I was missing a lot, even with my poor understanding of Malayalam. The subtitles were a bit lazy, and the jokes and dialects made it hard to understand the comic content of some dialogues. Still I really liked it.

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    • Oh, I hadn’t caught before the importance of masculinity in controlling itself! And in our brothers we had a whole variety of different kinds of masculine. The young sweet brother who hadn’t been poisoned by expectations. The oldest brother who struggled the most to live up to responsibilities and crumbled under the pressure. The middle brother who chose to drop out of society completely. And Shane, who was torn between living in society and dropping out, before finally finding the middle ground in choosing to be a fisherman and elope, rather than working at a factory or not at all, or having a respectable proper marriage or remaining single. All different kinds of journeys, but coming together.

      And there is also the message of “and then they come for you”. Once Fahadh has successfully hurt the women of his household, he will turn on the weakest man he can find and bring him into the same fight.

      On Fri, Mar 1, 2019 at 11:38 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Just watched the movie on Amazon Prime. Did you notice that the movie playing on screen when Shane tries to kiss Anna in the theatre is the climax of Arjun Reddy. Wonder if it was intentional?

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    • Yes, I think I saw another reviewer point that out (which is part of the reason I ignored it, I am such a stickler for only doing original analysis!)

      Anyway, I think it was just a mild joke about them seeing this sexy movie together but not being ready to be sexy themselves. The contrast is humorous. Of course, later in the film when they are at a different point in their relationship, they are as physical as the AR couple.

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