There is a small scene in the movie Kettyolanu Ente Malakha where a lady jokingly talks about her sex life. She is talking about marital rape with a dismissive smile on her face. It’s a scene that may have began as a tiny scene to show the humiliation of Sleevachan our hero, but it eventually shows us the reason why this movie was made. With a terrific Asif Ali playing a character that is easily one of his finest in his entire career, Kettyolanu Ente Malakha is one of those movies where you won’t bother about its minor drawbacks.
Sleevachan is a farmer. He has his own land of 65 acres where he is doing eco-friendly farming. Sleevachan is 35 years old now and he has never really given a thought about getting married. After seeing his mother struggle without anyone with her at home, he agrees to marry a girl named Rincy. But Sleevachan’s insecurities and fear about marriage and physical intimacy sort of messes up the relationship and the movie show us the journey of Sleeva and Rincy who were going through their toughest time in life.
When you look at the central conflict of the movie Kettyolanu Ente Malakha, I feel so happy that this movie is talking about a very sensitive issue in an engaging way. There is hesitation among people to talk about sex. It is still considered as a taboo topic to discuss. The interesting aspect of the movie Kettyolanu Ente Malakha according to me was the character of Sleevachan who is an ignorant grown-up man. He is so ignorant that he feels the humiliation he experienced was the greater pain than what happened with his wife. The transformation of Sleevachan post that incident is the soul of this movie. Sleevachan’s transformation in a way becomes a socio-political commentary of the makers about the bad notions in the society about relationships.
If somebody tries to check the political correctness of the film, the question of whether Rincy should have accepted Sleevachan after what he did to her can put the movie in a very murky space. Well for me that question got an answer through the spectacular performance of Asif Ali. There is a scene in the end where Sleevachan is on the floor and expresses how much he loves her and apologizes for his sheer ignorance with teary eyes. For me, that’s the moment of the movie. This is perhaps that scene that people will check online in the future, just to feel the love. In portraying the roughness of a planter character, the fear in him, and his lack of awareness about a female companion was portrayed flawlessly by Asif Ali. Veena Nandhakumar who made her debut earlier in Kadam Kadha doesn’t have a lot of screen time here when you look at the way the film focuses on Sleevachan. But whenever she was on screen she managed to deliver a performance that will make us root for her character and that was extremely helpful for the movie in giving seriousness to the whole topic. Basil Joseph was hilarious. Jaffer Idukki gets a meaty role in the movie. Manohari Joy who did the character of Sleevachan’s mother was extremely graceful in her performance. So many fresh faces are there in the star cast and almost all of them looked very convincing on screen.
Nisam Basheer and writer Aji Peter Thankam know how fragile this topic is. This is a movie that could face the same criticism “Ente Upasana” faced. But Sleevachan is not Arjunan. The kind of logic Arjunan applies in Ente Upasana was applied by Sleevachan at one point and the kind of reaction he gets from Rincy for that makes him understand what an insensitive idiot he was. And when I look at the movie now, it’s interesting how they managed to make us laugh through the movie and yet managed to shed light on a totally serious topic like marital rape. Sleevachan is a representation of all those ignorant men out there who are unaware of the idea of consent of your partner. The movie’s visuals are pleasing and it captures the texture of the Idukki area nicely. The cuts also made the narrative quite engaging. I really loved that song in the second half which shows an evolved Sleevachan.
Kettyolanu Ente Malakha comes at a time when there is a notion that realistic treatment is the only way to make successful movies. The treatment given to this movie is on the dramatic side and yet it managed to engage the audience thoroughly and that shows the quality of a movie that has quality writing, sensible direction, and terrific performances.
With a terrific Asif Ali playing a character that is easily one of his finest in his entire career, Kettyolanu Ente Malakha is one of those movies where you won’t bother about its minor drawbacks.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended