Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam is a very straightforward drama that I thought was exposing human hypocrisy and vulnerability very interestingly. It doesn’t have a gender bias in its agenda, and as the story progresses, director Don Palathara uses this peculiar idea to show us some of the human behavior and its grey shades. The movie doesn’t have any cuts, and the camera is always on the dashboard of a car. Without a single cut or movement, Don manages to tell the story in a very engaging way, which feels like an incredible achievement.
Jithin and Maria are our main characters. They are in a live-in relationship, and their parents don’t know about this relationship. Jithin is an aspiring actor who is struggling now due to the lockdown scenario, and Maria is a journalist. As the movie opens, we get to know that the couple is going to a lab to confirm whether Maria is pregnant or not. Whether they are ready for parenting leads to a heated debate between the two, and the core of the film is those arguments.
At the beginning of the film, when we hear the arguments of Jithin, we sort of tend to feel that this is yet another movie that focuses on how men are unaware of their patriarchal privileges. But occasionally, we do get a feeling that Maria isn’t that perfect either. Don is sort of showing us how certain situations can bring out all the insecurities inside individuals. Maria, who blames Jithin for not being serious about his passion, also becomes this controlling figure. In some ways, the movie is making fun of the idea of a “perfect” relationship.
Don Palathara follows an organic way of building conversations. Like how Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke were credited as writers in Richard Linklater’s Before series, the two actors, Rima Kallingal and Jithin Puthanchery, are credited as writers in Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam. So, I am assuming the dialogues were improvised by the actors who knew what should be communicated. The good thing about that method is that the actors become more real and natural. The biggest USP of the movie is these conversations that are basic and sort of relatable. The uncut, single-frame narrative becomes engaging solely because of the way the conversation unfolds.
The two performers, Rima Kallingal and Jithin Puthanchery, manages to add believability into their portrayal of Maria and Jithin, respectively. The character of Jithin knows how flawed he is and thus restrains himself for a long time in the conversation. Rima’s outbursts looked genuine on screen. I don’t know whether it was planned or improvised, sometimes when Jithin’s dialogues felt stiff, the counter dialogue from Rima, which sort of mocks the stiffness, helps the movie in balancing the realness.
The friend who calls Jithin, the lady who enters the car, and the director whom Maria interviews over the phone are the other characters in this story. And Don gives a satiric shade to the movie through these characters. Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam isn’t really taking any side, and thus it becomes an interesting third-person perspective on a practical relationship that has all sorts of flaws.
Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam isn't really taking any side, and thus it becomes an interesting third-person perspective on a practical relationship that has all sorts of flaws.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended