Rebel Review | An Irresponsible Political Drama With a Generic and Superficial Script

I won’t really claim that Kerala is a place where nobody shows discrimination to others. We all have seen a segment of the population, who shows hate towards a category of people based on their caste or language. Films addressing such political and sensitive topics are indeed a necessity, as art has that political layer to its credit. But when you monsterize everyone from a region in order to create a mass hero, the gross generalization is something that is extremely problematic, and it can even result in the creation of unnecessary hatred. Rebel, the new GV Prakash Kumar starrer, is one film that has a very irresponsible way of presenting its drama, and the understanding of the director about Kerala seems to be very superficial.

So the movie is set in the 80s, and our hero Kathiresan, and his friends are Tamil people who belong to Kerala’s Munnar village. Their parents used to do labor in those tea estates, and when these folks managed to get admission to college, the parents decided to send them to Palakkad for higher studies. The discrimination these Tamilians had to face in that college is what we see in Rebel.

The story is happening in the 80s, and hence, you can say that there is a good possibility that students from Tamilnadu might have faced some bias. But the story here is fictional, and even the Kerala shown in this movie feels excessively fictional. I really don’t know why some of the Tamil filmmakers don’t make an effort to fix the Malayalam in their movies. In the case of Rebel, almost 90% of the movie is set in Kerala. With this carelessness in understanding the nuances, along with an extremely basic injustice story, Rebel just becomes a tiring watch with zero elements of intrigue.

GV Prakash Kumar, with all his typical range of expressions, fits the part. His physicality actually helps the movie, as he never really becomes a larger-than-life hero. Mamitha Baiju, as the female lead, is mostly an on-looker who never really causes any trouble to the narrative. The only performance that felt in sync with the film’s pitch came from Venkitesh VP, one of the main antagonists of the movie. Unlike his performances in Malayalam, this character never felt like a heavy one, and even though the mannerisms are a bit stereotypical, he was able to present them neatly. Shalu Rahim, as another antagonist was struggling with the dialogue delivery. Karunas and Adithya Bhasker were okay in their respective roles.

The structure of this movie by Nikesh RS is extremely basic. Instead of fleshing out the story with a layered study of discrimination, Nikesh just throws a Kerala story-like imagination into this film. It is completely okay to have a fictional setting in movies. But when you are doing that in a story that talks about real places, a level of conviction is required. The way Nikesh has demonized both KSQ and SFY (no points for guessing) is so crass that I feel the same rage I felt against propaganda garbage like The Kerala Story. It sort of becomes even more problematic when you realize that they started the movie by stating history from a biased POV.

The mounting of Rebel as a revolt against racial discrimination feels like a phony layer they just gave to make this generic story look relevant. By making the antagonists extremely black, the movie actually simplifies the complex nature of the conflict into a mere hate campaign. If anyone has a feeling that the oppression-based films people like Vetrimaran, Pa Ranjith, etc. make are kind of easy because of the political layer, then they should watch this movie by Nikesh RS, which just uses the political layer as a shield to cover the flawed and unimaginative writing.

Final Thoughts

The mounting of Rebel as a revolt against racial discrimination feels like a phony layer they just gave to make this generic story look relevant.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.