22 Female Kottayam is a much hyped and a very well (by very well I mean excellently) marketed (which apparently makes this sentence redundant) Malayalam movie directed by Ashiq Abu, one of the better directors among the new crop of directors in Malayalam and scripted by Abhilash Kumar and Shyam Pushkaran starring Rima Kallingal,Fahad Fazil ,Prathap Pothen , TG Ravi, Sathar etc. The movie which is considered to be part of the new wave of film-making opened to thunderous applause and rave reviews. The movie was praised for the performances of the lead cast, the boldness of the makers to explore a subject never before tried, the technical perfection and the music and much more.
But apparently we could not agree (well except for the beautiful visuals and the music) with that. We as in yours truly and Jithin Jacob who actually paid for the tickets, shared a bottle of Romanov Red afterwards and came up with some insightful inputs (has nothing to do with the Romanov Red you know ;) ) into this post.
This is less a review of the movie and more of our observations about it and our reasoning for why we think it is not the classic many reviews claim it to be.
1. There is a difference between feminism and pseudo feminism (the kind 22 Female Kottayam endorses), the former intends to empower women and the latter intends to malign men for applause. The difference between the two is that a feminist perspective movie would have strong female characters and 22 FK has weak male characters and weaker female characters. What 22 Female Kerala really does is manipulatively commercialize feminist thought. Same in the lines as this ad does:
2. The line between reality and pretention is not exactly a thin one and 22 Female Kerala crosses the line to the wrong side by miles. As if the movie wasn’t pretentious enough there is preachy voiceover at the end to top it.
3. How does a movie, that say it is okay for women to exchange sex for favors, exactly be a feminist film? Ultimately the film at many levels objectifies women. For the genuine (if they exist) feminist, this film would be the greatest insult.
4. You must either kidding or ignorant to believe that Tessa K Abraham is one of the strongest female characters on Malayalam screen ever - Sarada, Shobhana, Sumalatha, Suhasini , Monisha would have something to say about that. Rima Kallingal was grossly unconvincing as the innocent girl, the convict and as the revenge seeker; the transitions had to come with acting not new hairstyle and accessories.
5. A movie with beautiful frames is not exactly technical perfect, just for your information that’s all.
6. Adding Kill Bill to your filmography does not make any connection between your movie and the classic. Hopefully Tarantino would never know about this travesty. Yeah, but Ashiq Abu can take a few cues from his movies for tips about revenge and intensity and all those stuff. And yes ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold ‘. But this was way too cold for any revenge, not the cold as in the tagline of Kill Bill, but as in lacking intensity.
7. There is nothing new in the plot or the narration and this is not the first revenge of a rape victim on Malayalam screen. Actually I don’t believe there is anything wrong in not using a fresh plot in every movie, this for those who really believe that 22 Female Kerala is a path breaking change in the Malayalam film industry and can’t stop praising the filmmakers being bold. You can start with Miss Pameela (don’t frown watching Silk movies is more trendy after Dirty Picture you know).
8. How many times will our filmmakers show the same jail sequences again and again? Jail sequences are so clichéd and predictable. Yeah everyone in jail has a story and every criminal has a soft side and just sprinkling a little ‘feminism’ over that makes no much difference. From a director who (and his fans) claims to make new wave movies, this looks pretty bad.
9. A serious question to the ’ new generation’ filmmakers; is the new generation as you portray in your ‘new generation’ movies or do you know that you are overdoing it.
10. Nothing to do with the movie as such , just a question to the ‘new age ’ Malayalam movie fans, how does ‘hugs to all Facebook fans’ from Ashiq Abu differ from ‘Thanks to the fans association’ how is the former so adorable and the latter grossly despicable.
22 FK coming from Ashiq Abu whose previous film was the brilliant Salt N Pepper is a huge disappointment. The new wave in Malayalam cinema is good and is here to stay for good, definitely 22 FK is not one of them
PS: Me, Jithin and the Romanov Red are not male chauvinists.
PPS: None of us are middle aged either.
Special Mention: Rahul Raghavan, Kiran PR
Special Mention: Rahul Raghavan, Kiran PR