Freedom Fight, the new anthology film from Malayalam streaming on SonyLIV, works in totality because of its treatment variety offered in each segment. Each story is a perspective on individual freedom. Toxic relationships, workplace inequalities, the injustice in the social hierarchy, the constraints of old people, and the oppression faced by the Dalits are the themes we see in each of these movies. The impact is different for each film as the treatment is distinct. But the subject in each movie stays with you.
Geethu Unchained, directed by Akhil Anilkumar, is perhaps the lightest and more entertaining segment in this anthology. It focuses on a character named Geethu. Her marriage was fixed with her boyfriend, but his toxic possessiveness made her break that alliance. The aftermath of that incident is the main focus in Geethu Unchained. As I said, it’s a very straightforward story about the confusion in a girl’s life. It mocks the “my girl” attitude of men in a relationship. Rajisha Vijayan as Geethu was an apt choice. Renjit Shekhar plays the role of her love interest along with Karikku fame Vishnu Agasthya.
Kunjila Mascillamani’s Asanghadithar is perhaps the odd one in the lot because of its docu fiction treatment. It talks about the lack of toilets in workplaces which causes extreme difficulties to women. The story is based on actual incidents, and it is set in the backdrop of SM Street in Kozhikode. A group of women as a collective tries to bring some change, and the journey wasn’t that smooth for them. Kunjila isn’t trying to soften the issue’s intensity, even though the treatment is mainly humor-driven. Srinda, as the central character of the segment, is excellent in playing that commoner.
Francies Louis’ Ration / Kliptha Vihitham was my second favorite film in the anthology. Even though it doesn’t really fit into the Freedom Fight theme of the anthology, the idea and the executions impress you. It is about class difference and how something that looks and feels nothing to a particular class has an entirely different impact on the other. Francies narrates the story from a housewife’s perspective in a lower-middle-class family. She has a good relationship with her upper-class neighbor. But a mistake on her part affects her deeply. And she isn’t getting the support of her husband in finding a solution. For the movie’s climax to be effective, the struggle of the leading lady had to look authentic, and Ration/ Kliptha Vihitham was able to pull it off effectively.
Old Age Home, directed by Jeo Baby, is about the restrictions around people living that retired life. Baby George, his wife Lali, and their maid Dhanu are the main characters in this story. Baby is struggling with dementia, and Lali, who is trying to live a life she wanted in this retired phase, finds it challenging to handle Baby. Dhanu, who was asked to leave her home by her own son, is an empathetic person. Written and directed by Jeo Baby, Old Age Home has three characters with different sets of problems in life.
Baby George cant deal with the level of restrictions put on him. He is not allowed to eat sugar or go to his favorite bar. Even though we are not shown a lot about Laly’s past, her enthusiasm towards her business gives us an idea that she had sacrificed a lot in the past. Dhanu is the bridge. Even when she is getting all the blame, she shows the people what can be done to make their lives better. The biggest positive of the movie was indeed Joju George’s performance. The sluggishness would have easily felt a bit gimmicky. But he was able to give a controlled performance.
The most impressive film in this anthology was Pra. Thoo. Mu. directed by Jithin Issac Thomas. I have seen the movie Manhole, directed by Vidhu Vincent, and I wasn’t a fan of the docu-fiction style of that movie, which in my opinion, reduced the impact of the subject. Jithin Issac Thomas’ film is a brilliantly scripted and accurately paced film that created an enormous impact. He was able to shed light on a significant issue through a segment that was less than 30 minutes. The casting choices were perfect, and Jithin has a very precise idea about the movie’s visual style. The movie talks about the life of those people who clean the septic tanks, and it’s on point from the word go. It is perhaps the only film in Freedom Fight where you won’t take your eyes off the screen.
Every film in Freedom Fight has opted for a raw representation of its politics, and thus the cuss words quotient is on the higher side. Almost all segments have a certain level of subtlety (maybe Asanghadithar was an exception) in presenting the stories and their stand. And films like Pra. Thoo. Mu and Ration/ Kliptha Vihitham manage to make you happy as a cinephile by being really good in the craft aspect.
Jithin Issac Thomas' film is a brilliantly scripted and accurately paced film that created an enormous impact.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended