Am I weird?

People usually have a tendency to look for a familiar face in the crowd. Or they used to. I don’t know because nowadays all I see on social media is ‘I avoid people’ or ‘I hate people’ themed memes. To be honest I could relate to many of them too. But yet again I am comforted by a familiar face. Why I said this as a preface is that I am going to tell you about my weird or not so weird habit. May be many of you also already have it. If there is a book stack in the movie or the series I am watching, I’ll just pause it and look carefully at the titles to see if there is anything familiar. When I find one I’ll be all glad like unexpectedly running into an old but dear friend. “Oh my god, is that you dear..”

And sometimes if I find books that are on my whether to read it or not list, I’ll definitely read it. Because somehow I am convinced that the book is worth giving a shot since the production people decided to put it up among the others. I conveniently avoids the possibility that the director might have said ‘just bring in some books to fill these shelves to make the character look like a reader’. Instead I create an imaginary scenario where the director give those specific titles to the assistant, to bring in because they are some fine works and he/she want their viewers to know how tasteful the character’s choices are.

See, I told you it is a weird habit. Or not. I don’t know. You tell me. What is you weird habit. And what is your take on books shown in movies? Tell us in the comments..
Ciao Buddies …

Revisiting Malayalam Movies

#1 Hitler (1996)

Today I want to talk about a Malayalam movie. Not a review, not a synopsis. It’s just a revisit. Let’s go, shall we?

Hitler is one of the biggest hit in the career of megastar Mammootty. He is considered to be the epitome of masculinity among Malayali audience. In this movie as well he represents the men of Kerala.The title Hitler refers to the character played by Mammootty. He is locally known as Hitler due to his rough and tough character. He has a dominating personality with a rage towards the youngsters of the area for eve teasing and stalking his 5 younger sisters. Madhavankutty is the guardian of his sisters. He has already confirmed that women needs to be protected. Madhavankutty leading his sisters on the road is a symbol. Man who have the power, walks in front and submissive women obediently follows him. This representation of social reality was well received by the all time audience.

The ability to take one’s own decision is the strength of independence and basis of feminism. In this movie Madhavankutty never allows his sisters to express their opinions. He had been looking after the family since the death of their mother. Their father  is married again with two daughters and his children from the first marriage do not even speak to him. 

Throughout the movie we see Madhavankutty telling his sister what to do and what not to do. In the beginning, he even raises his voice and scolds his sisters for confessing that she ‘knows’ a boy. He accompanies or rather leads his sisters to and from their college. When he is busy with his work, he appoints a body guard for his sisters to do the same. He is an over possessive and over protective brother. All the more they are not allowed to go or stand outside of the gate without him.
Madhavankutty is portrayed as a rough man to others but for his sisters he is a dotting brother who provides everything for his sisters. Madhavankutty brings lots of clothes for his sisters.  Madhavankutty is the one who go shopping and brings clothes. The girls wear whatever they are given. Clearly the brother chooses for his sisters.

Madhavankutty is the protective patriarchal brother who can’t  understand that these girls know better to take care of themselves. He has taken it on his shoulders to marry off his sisters and he is adamant that he will find partners for them. As he leaves the home to find a suitable guy for the eldest of his sisters, the girls are seen way too much excited indicating how frustrated or subdued they felt . They literally fist pump and jump. They sneak out with their cousin Gouri and go outing. (A song of happiness is followed, obviously)

In the absence of Madhavankutty Balachandran gets into his house to be with Ammu his prospected bride, and gets caught. This results in the hostility between the two families and Madhavankutty opposes any of the decided marriages to happen between families. Balachandran on the other hand wants to make them happen.

Things change when the eldest sister Seetha goes through an unfortunate incident where her unmarried professor under the influence sexually abuse her. Coming back to senses, the professor confesses his act to Madhavankutty. At first he becomes angry and beats him. But then professor says that he was drunk and Seetha didn’t try to protest either. Devastated on hearing this and how this incident could affect the lives of his sisters he goes with the solution that to marry off Seetha to the Professor. The confession of Professor who exploited his sister is well received by Madhavankutty. He later says that he will blame neither Professor nor Seetha. But he was upset that his sister lost something that made her herself. For him she was not the same anymore. He in order to escape from the possible ‘defamation’ for his sister was raped, he marries off her to the old Professor who is somewhat thirty years older than her. He didn’t bother to listens to what his sister has to say. He confronts Seetha and tells her that whether she likes it or not she has to marry the same professor. Because marrying someone else will be cheating in the brother’s opinion. Also he tells her that consider it as her destiny. (A destiny chosen by the brother ).
The sisters become shocked to know that their elder sister is being married off to an older professor and they questions their brother. Their bodyguard Sathyapalan brings clothes for the wedding. Ammu becomes furious and throws away the clothes Madhavankutty has brought for them. She asks whether the groom hunting was a drama. She further says that the sisters wont let him to marry off  their elder sister to an old man. Madhavankutty answered her question by slapping Ammu hard across her face and shouts that if he wills, he will marry off everyone as he wishes and no one will be able to stop him. (God, I hate that character)

This is Hitler. He doesn’t think of himself as answerable to anyone. Second, he silences everyone with violence. He overpower his sisters with the masculine authority that society and he himself bestowed upon him.
Ammu who couldn’t agree with her brother’s decision, leaves the house and marries Balachandran. This infuriates Madhavankutty and breaks every ties with her too. His sister disobeying him was unacceptable to him. Also Ammu choosing Balachandran over Madhavankutty makes him despise Balan as well. Soon Madhavankutty’s father is killed by an enemy family leaving his two daughters orphan. Madhavankutty brings the two step sisters under his roof. But his other sisters are against this and they leave the house to stay with Balachandran and Ammu in the nearby house. He goes till the gate, apologizes for whatever he has done and asks his sisters to come out. Ammu comes out alone and tells that the sisters don’t want to live with him anymore. Madhavankutty become aggressive and shouts at Ammu that who is she to say that his sisters don’t want to come with him. She coolly replies that she is their elder sister who has the same rights and responsibility to sisters as much as he has. He shuts her up and ask how dare she could speak of her right over the girls. Madhavankutty is raged to hear that Ammu too have right over the sisters and they are not his ‘property’ only. His ego is hurt and authority is questioned. He believes his authority and rights over his sisters are limitless and unquestionable. The mere fact that the elder sister is speaking for the younger ones infuriates the brother. He becomes angry when he feels that Ammu is making decision for the sisters. The irony is, this is exactly what he has been doing all these time. He has been taking decisions for and over protecting them. But when Ammu started to do the same or he thought she was doing so he couldn’t handle it nor he could accept it.
Madhavankutty keeps on shouting and raising voice at Ammu while the other people in the scene are talking rather peacefully and matter of factly.

Yelling is one of the most reprehensible acts of abuse. It is demeaning hostile and threatening with the intend of chastising. He yelled because his sisters denied to go with him and Ammu stood by them as a sister. He was disobeyed and his authority was questioned.

Gouri is portrayed as an extremely impulsive and opinionated woman. She enjoys her life and freedom unlike Madhavakutty’s sisters. She loves Madhavankutty who never shows love or affection to her. He even hates it when she comes to his home and talks to his sisters. He believes she is a bad influence on them. Madhavankutty behaves like a master or leader always. He carries himself as a saviour of women. First of his own sisters and then of his step sisters. It resembles the White knight syndrome. It is a personality characteristic found in most males that lead them to ;
1. Rush to the aid of any female they see who appears in any form of distress.
2. Become attracted to said ‘damsel in distress’
3. Follow the dying code of chivalry and generally act like a nice guy.
Men affected by the White Knight Syndrome are men who feel the need to protect, provide attention and affection, be viewed as ‘heroic’, boost their ego and generally feel good about themselves. (Not my words)

In this movie Madhavankutty chases Hrudhayabhanu, his regular victim, and beats him furiously because he saw him gesturing and talking to his sisters. The fact that his sister Thulasi likes him back and enjoys his presence doesn’t matter to him. Believing that she needs help Madhavankutty abuses Hrudhayabhanu.
When Madhavankutty confirms that he won’t marry Gouri she tries to persuade him through a song sequence. He ignores her throughout but at the end he runs towards her thinking that she has fallen from some height. But that was a prank and she says she will wait for him to marry her. He who wants to protect his good boy image warns the workers who saw everything, not to tell any of what happened, otherwise he will beat them too. He gives them some money too. (What an unusual way of charity, right?🤪)
Gouri surprisingly enjoys the verbal abuse her supposed to be fiancé gives her. According to Madhavankutty, she is a spoiled girl who he fears might spoil his sisters too. Gouri go to Madhavankutty’s house only in his absence. If she happens to be seen by him, he scolds her and insults her for not being a ‘good girl’. Obviously she doesn’t meet the criteria of a good girl made by him. Being bold and having opinions is bad in his book. Hence she is insulted, scolded and humiliated whenever they are face to face. Surprisingly or not so surprisingly Gouri enjoys this and considers this as a gesture of love. She is head over heels for a guy who never shows at least a glimpse of love for her.

His sisters also loves him so much even after so much tyranny and domination. The sisters can’t think of a life without their brother. Stockholm syndrome is a psychological condition in which a hostage emotionally bonds to his/her captor. The sisters are so used to be in under control of their brother that a life where they should take a decision by themselves must be terrifying for them. They are so familiar with Madhavankutty’s violence towards people. Hence when they here Balachandran has been beaten up by their brother, they immediately believe it. All through their life they have seen Madhavankutty chasing people, verbally abusing and beating them severely. This is the reason why people call him Hitler and the sisters believed that he could beat his Brother- in law also.

At the end when  Madhavankutty leaves everyone and decides to wander places to understand the meaning of life Gouri and the sisters stand outside the gate and Gouri wolf whistles at a boy who was passing by them. He stops the bycycles and whistles back. Seeing this, Madhavankutty who with his anti Romeo attitude shouts at the boy and takes a u turn towards them. The movie ends where girls jump in delight to see their brother back. On the screen it is written that he can neither change his habits nor can he leave everything and go. Evidently everyone accepts the fact that he is never going to change his dominating and controlling personality.

The movie used a number of comic elements and a few comic characters to evoke laughter among audience. This movie focused mainly on brother sister relationship and few other things surrounded to it.  The funniest thing is this film is considered as an epitome of a brother’s love for his sister(s).

Hey there, if you liked this article, please like and/or comment. Your feedback means a lot to me. Also if you want me to revisit any other Malayalam/Hindi/English movie, do tell me.. Ciao buddies….

The Great Indian Kitchen

Somebody had the audacity to portray what exactly happens in most of the Indian Kitchens.  Not a movie on Culinary wonders, let me clarify that. If you want to know what happens in the kitchens of India, watch this movie. I wouldn’t say every household is like this, but still 90% of family is like this only. Slight changes will be there if the family consists just husband and wife or if the family is a bit more “progressive”. But otherwise it is ditto what happens in every Kerala household.
The movie The Great Indian Kitchen begins with an unnamed young woman passionately dancing. She marries an unnamed man soon enough and moves into her husbands house as the custom dictates. No character except the servant has a name in this movie. This is to show that the situation does not belong to a particular family but every single one.

If you are not familiar with the culture and tradition of India, I will give you a gist.
# Most of the time, the actions of the girl child is judged by the phrase  ‘behave yourself, you are to be married off to a good family’.
# After marriage the bride has to leave her family and move in to her husband’s house. ( a few cultural  groups are exempted)
# More often than not this house includes grandfather, grandmother, father, mother and husband. Sometimes husband and wife move out and live in separate house.
#Indian Culture basically preaches dependency. Like when we are younger they teach us that you are depended on your parents. Once the boy or girl becomes the age they are taught two different things. To a boy they say ; you have to earn a job and take care of your parents and wife and grandparents if they live with you. To a girl they say; start learning cooking, learn to drape a saree and complete the course with good marks. Because if your husband’s family agrees then you can get a job.
# Not even once in the life chart independence is written. If you are a kid, you are depended on your parents, if you are an adult with a job then your parents are depended on you, if you have kids they are depended in you. If you become older you are depended on your kids. There is not  a moment in your life where you live for yourself.

I am not against family values or relationships. I love my parents so much. But my problem is against the system which teaches you dependency. Which indirectly ask you to live for others only. I mean everyone  needs a break right?
Back to the movie. This is the most realistic movie I have ever seen. The movie is 99.9% life and .1 % fantasy. I have read so many comments on the movie saying
1. The movie so lagging
2. Some scenes are repetitive that it’s boring.
Dude, that’s the whole point if the  movie. That’s how a housewife’s day goes. It’s repetitive. It’s boring. People make her do the same chores everyday. They tell her it’s her duty, her responsibility, her role as woman. They ask her to be proud of her life. They manipulate woman in thinking that they are doing the worthiest thing she can ever do. By failing to do the that she is failing herself and the whole womanhood. She is disappointing not just her family but the whole society.
I know this because I have faced many of the things said in the movie. My friend said that she had similar experience as well.
I have talked to a bunch of girls about this movie and they all said that  they are scared to get married after watching that movie. Not because the movie puts you in an uncertainty, but in a certainty. This is how your life is going to be after marriage. Proposals will be like ‘will you be the partner for life? Everything will be shared and we will be equally contributing to our life and family’. Now the hidden message here is
‘ equality is like you do one thing and I will do the other. You cook, I’ll eat. You wash, I’ll wear. You clean, I’ll enjoy, you work, I’ll work too. You do the chores after work, I’ll rest after work.’
I am not being negative, this is what happens in majority if the families.

The “progressive” families in kerala have the attitude that “We will let our daughter-in-law or Wife work even after marriage “. Now what happens is the woman have to get up early, do all the chores, prepare break fast and lunch and go to work. Return from work, do the chores, cook tea and snacks and dinner. That too with minimum or no help from her partner.  I have heard older people say men cooking and helping woman in the chores is so humiliating for himself. It’s not at all manly.
Cleaning,cooking and taking care of babies are the duties of woman only. Doing those makes a man weak and less manly. A generation of people thinks this and propagates the same. But fortunately present generation doesn’t think so. They think a little more clearly and logically. Men have realized that cooking is not a gender role but a life skill. That’s why majority of the men knows almost everything. They do it all the time when they live alone. They clean their own plates, clothes and room. They cook everything from common rice and curry to Biriyani. But once they get married, they forget everything. They cook occasionally, when they are free and feels like cooking, which happens once in a month or so. They cook only specials for special days. Only if they have the mood. But women doesn’t have that freedom. She can’t cook only if she have mood. She have to cook no matter what.

I once had a discussion with my friend about these topics and I asked him. Will you help your wife in chores.
He said ‘If I have job and I am tired then no’.

What if your wife have job and she is tired or sick?
‘If she is sick then she doesn’t have to do it either’.

Oh That’s good. So what about the chores?
‘We can order food, and she can wash the clothes tomorrow or day after tomorrow. I won’t force her to do anything anyway’.

Still you won’t do it huh. ‘Why is it necessary that I should do it. Why are you forcing me?’

Oops. Sorry. Nope.. Nothing.
So that’s how his mind worked.

Getting back to the movie. It’s basically a movie on a woman cooking and cleaning. Many people had positive response to it as well. There were some people who understood that the effect of this movie is for a week maximum. Many men said that they will change for a week or so, after that they will be the same old them. So make the best out if it and involve husbands in doing chores. It’s a relief to see there are men who see things clearly and acknowledges it. They give us the hope of a better tomorrow.
I know a lot of people who believes feminism means ‘Man-hating’.  People consider being a feminist as such a bad or worse thing. In a world of such people, the men who are educated and rational are clearly a blessing. Every single person is responsible for what happens in this world today. We cause it in one way or the other. Most of the time a woman can’t cut her own hair. She needs the permission of her father, mother, brother, grandparents, (after marriage) husband and in laws most of the time. She doesn’t have rights on her own hair. Also cutting a long hair short can get you in trouble and a lot of judging. May be that’s a topic for another time. Till then I would suggest you to watch The Great Indian Kitchen if you want to see the absolute reality. Ciao…

Life of the Party

Melissa McCarthy has the cutest and most innocent face ever. Undoubtedly she was born for the role of Deanna. I am just gonna talk about the movie Life of the Party and how it made me fee. I will be leaving the technical sides out.

I just happened to see the thumbnail of LOTP on Netflix and saw my favourite lady’s face there. I checked the synopsis. A divorced woman is going back to her school to complete her graduation. ‘Huh, interesting ‘. So I watched it. God, that was one of the best 1 hr and 47 minutes of my life. It begins with a happy chirpy mother dropping her daughter off to her hostel in the beginning of her senior year. Her happy sweet life comes to stand still when her husband asks for a divorce. At first she don’t know what to do. The only thing she regret every single day is dropping out of college with only one year left for graduation. So she decides to rectify it. Deanna once again comes back to the school, this time to complete her senior year and graduate. The struggle and fun begins there. She’s excited like a new kid on her first day of school. She is excited about every little things that contribute to her school life.

Oh how I wish if I had a friend or roommate like her during my hostel days. My school life would have definitely been a better one. Words are not enough to express the joy I had when I was watching this movie. Just not Deanna, even her bestfriend Christine (Maya Rudolf ) is also a gem.

Deanna Miles is, without any doubt, the sweetest, coolest and funniest person I have seen on movies. She is such a beauty too. How she totally came in to the spirit of a highschool without losing her earned wisdom and world view is actually inspiring. She is older than every other students in the school. Her teacher is her ex- classmate. But she was excited about it too. The only thing that bothered her was her daughter’s comfort. Luckily she had the sweetest daughter . Let’s say Maddie got her mother’s nature. The gang she first meets, oh such horrible people so selfish and arrogant that they harass Deanna whenever they meet. Just Kidding. The gand is also a bunch of sweetie pies. Why would I attempt such a terrible jock on harassment, is a question to me also. But you can watch the movie if you haven’t already.

All in all the movie was just what I needed. It cheered me up like no other movie ever did. Just seeing Deanna smiling made me feel like “Everything is fine”. I had a smile on my face just seeing Deanna talking and talking. I have to say my sincere gratitude to the script writer, casting guy and the director for such a treat. Bless the soul who chose Melissa McCarthy for this role. It is such a feel good movie that says ‘Have fun people’. It tells us how we can enjoy even the smallest things in our life. I am going to say that my best decision so far in 2021 was to watch this movie. I will probably put this movie on the “Movies to watch if you are upset’ list. I would say drop everything now and watch this movie.

I would really like to know if there is any other movies which have similar themes or effects on people. You can suggest me such good movies. Also which is your favourite movie that made you so cheerful?

Isn’t she the cutest, people?

Still Alice – Still Thinking about Her.

They say when life gives you lemons,  make lemonade.  Pretty optimistic and encouraging proverb, right?  But what if life gives you lemons but you forget how to make lemonade, or worse fail to spell or even identify lemons. I guess that’s what an early onset of alzheimer’s do to you. Lisa Genova has told the story of Alice Howland,  a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and how her picture perfect life gets changed by a neurodegenerative disease.  Being a Neuroscientist her career might have helped the author to bring life to the characters in the novel. I read the book some years ago and after that I watched the movie also. The plot is so gripping that here and there you get a lump in your throat. Sometimes while talking about her symptoms and how she feels and how her family feel,  we feel like we are nibbling at a lime. It’s sour.

        Everyone forget things. Sometimes random things,  sometimes important things too.. But what if at one point we look at our parents or best friend cluelessly,  trying to figure out who they are. And then all of a sudden you are reminded of who they are,  then comes the drowning feeling and pangs of fear. I can’t even imagine how awful they must have felt.  Going unrecognised by our beloved is a nightmare for many of us.
          The movie also is a brilliant depiction. Julienne Moore literally live as Alice Howland. The scenes where she forget the bathroom of her own house and cries, man,  it definitely is heartbreaking. (It’s not like I forgot the scene where she fails to recognize her own daughter, but still).I felt like holding her close and comforting her.  Thank God her husband John comes and helps her.  Both the movie and the book are awesome.  No wonder the book was a best seller then and Julianne Moore won an Academy Award for Best Actress at the 87th Academy  Awards for her role as Alice Howland.
I love this novel,  you know. It was like talking to Alice or watching her life and career in it’s peak and then watching things fall apart around her and her not being able to pick it up. Alzheimer’s takes our Alice from her own world where everyone and everything is comforting and familiar and make her walk through some strange land where she finds it difficult to recognize people, place and she has no idea how to get out of there. You didn’t think the choice of name was random, did you?
No one dies in this movie or book. But still you feel sad. You see how hard Alice try  to keep the disease at bay. Her family tries to change themselves to fit perfectly together with their beloved. They try their best to make things easier for Alice. She is trying her best to remain the same Alice. Memories and knowledge and all other things that made her what she is now, is slipping away through her fingers. She tries to hold on to them in vain. Her words are taken away from her. But she is still Alice, whatever may happen.

The words that come from her revealing  how helpless she feels,  hit you hard. And it hit you even harder when you realize that,  although fiction,  this could be true since the person who wrote it, is a neuroscientist, she knows better and it could be real. More lumps in the throat.

The Boy in Striped Pajamas – Thoughts

I watched the movie recently and it left me thinking about so many things.  I will share a few with you guys. 

So the movie is good and makes us shed a few tears, because, apparently  the boys are dead.  But when I look deeper into the movie I wonder for whom was I supposed to cry more. With whom should I sympathize more.  Since the movie is set in the backdrop of Nazi concentration camps,  it should have done more justification to the history.  But this movie does nothing but trivialise the holocaust and put the sole focus on a Nazi family and the conflicts the members are facing. In bits they show the condition of a Jew by introducing us to Pavel’s stooped figure and how Kotler treats him.

The boy,  Bruno, (the protagonist and the German boy) befriends a Jewish boy named Shmuel who happens to sit at the border of the concentration camp, near the electrocuted barbed wire fence hiding from officers who are clearly not in the vicinity.  Bruno shares food with Shmuel and they become close.  I don’t know if a prisoner could have sat there for this long without getting noticed by officers who search for an opportunity to torture the prisoners. Anyhow Bruno’s exploring takes him to the solitary prisoner boy who looks weak and tired. Their friendship and the followed perks might have given Shmuel hope and positivity and something to look forward to tomorrow.

Later when Bruno lied to save himself for the fear of punishment, it cost Shmuel almost an eye. He was sad but not ready to loose the only hope and happiness he had there. Bruno decides to make up for lying and letting down Shmuel once by helping him to find his missing papa. Shmuel gets Bruno the prisoners’ uniform and Bruno sneak into the camp. The sites in the camp is disturbing for the boy but they seem much better than what our history says.  Some of the prisoners are sitting tired,  some are lying down, some are looking out through the window, some are even sleeping on their bed.  They all seems to have a lunch break (with or without lunch). Unfortunately the officers whistles to ask people to march to somewhere.  Trapped inside the flood of crowd Bruno and Shmuel holds the hands of each other and follows the orders.  They were lead to the gas chambers and the rest is predictable.  Bruno’s parents frantically search  for their son and find that he has gotten into the camp.  Realizing the worst possibility the mother cries out clutching her son’s clothes and the father wails unsure of what to do. The tragedy focused in the film is the accidental death of the German boy who happened to get trapped in the gas chamber with hundreds of Jews including Shmuel,  both being unaware of what was waiting for them. The movie ends  at the faces of devastated parents. Because of such an ending I am confused about one thing.  Who is the boy mentioned in the title?   Is it Shmuel who is forced to wear the striped pajamas all along because he happens to be Jewish and thus a prisoner,  or Bruno who wore it because he can sneak into camp and help his friend find his father, which he considers, will be a new adventure.

By focusing on Bruno’s death and his parents’ reaction the movie hints subtly at the Nazi’s version of White Men’s Burden whereupon they say how many sacrifices they had to make their country a strong and independent one. May be that was what the director and the author of the book intended right? (Or not, I don’t know ). Nazi or Jew, kids are kids. People are people, if they die on screen I will weep for them. But what I am thinking is who deserves our tears. The mother was crying for the Jews from the beginning of second half of the movie . May be they wanted us to think Jews got their share of tears from the mother, so let’s all cry for Bruno at the end and look how shattered his parents are. Or they didn’t. I don’t know. I am all questions and no answers. I guess I cried for both the kids. Maybe the author/director wanted us to see the death of fraternity or friendship between the two cultures happened during the Second World War. Then again as I said, all these are just my thoughts.