“Patriarchy is a fundamental imbalance underlying society and it’s one we rarely address because it’s so universal. But as I get older, I see that peace is a product of balance” – Ani Di Franco
The Great Indian Kitchen was a very refreshing watch, especially when the trend of overproducing films is beginning to take a toll on the Mollywood industry. The film packs a great punch even with this minimalist approach of film-making. It was great to watch a film with very little importance to useless details and more resources pumped into making this a 2 hour-long short film.
Watching this film gives you the same experience as reading an old Sylvia Plath’s book, where you are just spellbound by the time and precision that the author takes to paint the picture of the characters of her plot. The exclusion of names of characters is the perfect example to this, as you never realize that the characters are not yet named only because you already know enough about these characters that you don’t need their names anymore.
Suraj Venjaramoodu’s newly rediscovered version of middle-aged characters is quickly becoming one of my favorite portrayals. He does an excellent job at boosting the plot forward and keeping us skeptical in loving the character with his insane acting skills. Nimisha Sajayan also does a great job and we already know that she is one of the best, if not ‘the’ best at portraying an extremely natural domestic woman character (from ‘Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum’). The supporting cast is also carefully chosen so that they complement the main characters quite well and they have great chemistry with each other.
One of the best parts of this film has to be its brilliant cinematography. It is highly modern; and the long, moving and uncut shots are just like a Stephen King book’s climax where you never know when it is going to end. The shots are either rapid, short and colorful, or slow-paced, dull and creative. This Ying and Yang effect created by these shorter and longer shots makes this film a creative roller-coaster with high unpredictability.
The exclusion of any background music is also a very popular strategy mostly popularized by Céline Sciamma in her highly regarded movie “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” as it creates a sense of natural environment which makes you both comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. The extremely crisp sounds more than makes it up for the missing background music and again, creates this eerie yet calm surrounding for the story to proceed.
The main goal of the film was obviously to pack a punch right into the guts of our society by pulling out the not so hidden patriarchy and to speak out against normalizing it, and Jeo Baby does an excellent job at this. We all have seen this film’s concept in multiple other films (Veruthe oru Bhaarya and Kettyolanente Maalaakha) but such a raw and stomach-churning portrayal is definitely something we have not seen earlier. This would have been probably a very difficult task for the filmmakers to do, as such a common and normalized thing has to be portrayed with a highly problematic and dramatic environment.
Now, onto some let backs. Although the characters in this movie are doing a great job of grinding your gears, it comes at the cost of exaggeration. The characters in this movie are a bit overwhelmingly exaggerated that we all could predict the storyline after a point (actress does something random and the in-law says “wtf”). The script could have been better in the sense, being more natural with portraying the characters while still not sacrificing any of the intensity or the grittiness of those characters. As mentioned earlier, the plotline is predictable and the same concepts of patriarchy are portrayed again and again in every scene and sub-plot.
The unnecessary attacking of religion and political parties was very frustrating and it ruined the experience. It was very similar to Eminem talking about Mike Spence is his latest song GNAT where we needed no part of his political opinion in the middle of a song with COVID-19 bars. This sole reason made me deduct points from the movie, as it’s ‘secret’ sub agenda after all became not so secret.
The song at the end also took an L. I felt like someone from the film crew read my mind during the first half of the movie and told me “You found this cinematography special? Jokes on you, sucker!”. All the points that I mentioned in the beginning about how the cinematography made this film unique were all violated in that last song. Mediocre cinematography and below-average timing of the song makes no sense at the end of such a cinematographically modern film. In the end, the song summed up in a sentence is ‘just another below-average Mollywood film song’.
Overall, this was a very refreshing watch, and it reminds me that Mollywood is at the very least headed in the right direction. Although these kinds of movies may have many flaws, I am very hopeful that we could improve upon these things in the future. After all, I am proud that Mollywood industry and our society, both are on the right tracks.