The last two films of director Jeo Baby, Kunju Daivam and Kilometers and Kilometers, had this flair of being feel-good movies. But the spoon-feeding through dialogues was a bit too excessive, which made those movies feel like those well-intended films that are only one time watchable. His latest film, The Great Indian Kitchen starring Nimisha Sajayan and Suraj Venjaramood, is a clear upgrade in terms of the craft. Jeo Baby manages to explain a lot without the need for dialogues, and despite the occasional verbal political explanations, the movie works for you, mainly due to the relatability factor.
So the movie is about this newly married young girl. She is married to a teacher, and his family is a bit orthodox. The men in the family are not that flexible when it comes to household chores. They want multiple dishes, the table manners are pathetic, and they have certain conditions about how the food is cooked, clothes are washed, etc. Our heroine is someone from the modern generation who is not accustomed to this level of strictness, and The Great Indian Kitchen is showing us her efforts to blend in with this family that has no plan to evolve.
As I said, there is a significant improvement in how Jeo Baby has handled the script of this movie. The first one hour of this one hour forty minutes movie has no real statements through dialogues. It was actually the editing that was telling us the story and its intentions. We are shown the routine jobs of a housewife in a repeated cycle. The husband-character is shown as a supportive figure initially, who eventually reveals his true color when his male ego gets hurt. Even the father in law has this pseudo-progressive tone when he “allows” our leading lady to use mixer-grinder. The kind of benevolent sexism that exists in our society is depicted in this movie, and that gave this movie a relatable texture.
Nimisha Sajayan, as a performer, delivers yet another brilliant performance. Her dialogue delivery was a concern for me in the beginning areas of the movie, but slowly she managed to reduce the flaws in that. And the good thing about the script is that it didn’t depend on the heroine’s lines. We get to feel her frustration and desperation through those visuals, and Nimisha managed to bring great authenticity to that. Suraj Venjaramood, on the other hand, is the representative of that sugar-coated patriarch. Suraj has underplayed that character efficiently to make him feel like a real character.
In the movie’s initial bits, Jeo Baby has made the viewer a mere spectator who gets a chance to observe the daily routine of a housewife. The visuals are mostly static, and the edits have a sense of rhythm. Slowly as the character goes into contemplation, the pace gets dropped, and one can see claustrophobic spaces getting introduced. The story here isn’t really a male-bashing one. The women who propagate patriarchy are also getting criticized, and the good thing is that such characters are not shown as caricatures. The movie talks about the physical relationship without any sense of inhibition. There is a bit in the movie where an activist is attacked by people who wanted to protect the “faith.” I thought that small bit somewhat ruined the subtle messaging of this movie. Luckily, the climax of the film had a moment that was designed in an unpredictable manner.
Gender equality is a topic that has been in debate over the last few years, and The Great Indian Kitchen is a movie that joins this debate and takes it in a positive direction. The relatability, relevance, and realness make it a film that deserves to be watched at least once.
Gender equality is a topic that has been in debate over the last few years, and The Great Indian Kitchen is a movie that joins this debate and takes it in a positive direction.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended