I saw Sivaranjiniyum Innum Sila Pengalum almost three years back during the 2018 IFFK. When it finally got a release through SonyLIV last week, I thought it wouldn’t have the same impact. Because we have seen multiple movies that touched upon the same theme in the last couple of years. But Sivaranjiniyum Innum Sila Pengalum from Vasanth feels real and pretty much pertinent, sadly and surprisingly. The three-part anthology set in 3 different decades showcases the deep-rooted misogyny in society perfectly.
The film is an anthology about three women; Saraswathi, Devaki, and Sivaranjini. Saraswathi’s story is set in the ’80s, and she is that silent and obedient housewife who is too scared of her husband. The story of Devaki was set in 1995, and she is the only working woman in her husband’s joint family. Sivaranjini’s story was set in 2007, and she is also a housewife. But Ranjini was a star athlete in her college who was all set for national-level competition. But her family’s decision to marry her off put an end to that career.
I think Sivaranjini became the name that made it to the title because she is perhaps the only character that will be relatable to most of the women who will watch this film. Both Saraswathi and Devaki were women who stood up against the patriarchal injustice that happened to them. But Sivaranjini doesn’t have much space here to express her thoughts and stand. Saraswathi’s story mocks the fragile male ego in a somewhat funny way. One could see Saraswathi apologizing to her husband for standing up for herself. And even though it feels bizarre, the truth is one can easily find such women even in 2021. I really loved the way Vasanth portrayed that transformation of Saraswathi in just minutes, and the climax bit will somewhere remind you of Jai Bhim.
Devaki’s story, starring Parvathy Thiruvothu as the central character, is perhaps the breeziest in the lot. If Saraswathi’s story was based on the idea of self-respect, Devaki’s story is more about trust and personal space. It talks about a scenario when a married woman’s personal diary becomes an issue for the patriarchs in a joint family. It somewhere shows how women themselves support the patriarchal mentality. The husband of Devaki is initially shown as a supportive and sensitive man. But the deep-rooted nature of the male superiority affects him too when Devaki takes a firm decision. One major creative element about this whole segment was how Vasanth kept the perspective very close to the little boy in that house, a representative of the next generation.
Sivaranjini’s story is that bitter reality. If Jeo Baby used multiple top-angle cooking shots in a montage style in The Great Indian Kitchen, Vasanth has opted for a single take sequence of one morning in Sivaranjini’s life. We see her making coffee for her Mother in law and husband using different kinds of milk. She is getting her daughter ready. Her husband is asking for paper, specs, files, etc., and she is also preparing the lunch and breakfast for the kid and her husband in the meantime. The camera pans left, right and center, and when Ranjini sits down after everyone leaves, even you will feel like taking a deep breath. There are no speeches in the film, and that sort of shows the confidence Vasanth has in the material.
Kaileswari Srinivasan gets the most powerful role in the movie as Saraswathi. The reality of Saraswathi is harsh, and the space is very minimal for Kaileswari to make us understand Saraswathi’s trauma. She managed to do that brilliantly. Parvathy Thiruvothu has the grace to be that educated and self-assured young woman of the ’90s. Even though the character didn’t really feel like a challenge for the actor, she was a perfect choice to be Devaki. Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli as the title protagonist Sivaranjini was also brilliant. A major part of her performance is all about body language. And just through that, she makes sure that one would feel for that character.
Sivaranjiniyum Innum Sila Pengalum feels like a depiction of a solution and problem. The three stories are happening in different decades, and I would say that last year’s Malayalam film The Great Indian Kitchen can be considered as the spiritual fourth-segment of this movie. Through frames that depict the power contrast and helplessness of women, Vasanth has managed to talk about a subject without having to lecture about it through dialogues.
The three-part anthology set in 3 different decades showcases the deep-rooted misogyny in society perfectly.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended