Ullozhukku review: Parvathy, Urvashi subvert the saas-bahu saga in flooded Kuttanad



    In Ullozhukku, Anju (Parvathy Thiruvothu) navigates the challenges of caring for her bedridden husband in a flood-stricken Kuttanad, supported by her compassionate mother-in-law Leelamma (Urvashi).

    Director :
    • Christo Tomy
    Cast :
    • Urvashi,
    • Parvathy Thiruvothu
    Genre :
    • Drama
    Language :
    • Malayalam
    Platform :
    • Theatrical
    Ullozhukku review: Parvathy, Urvashi subvert the saas-bahu saga in flooded Kuttanad
    Updated : June 21, 2024 03:00 PM IST

    Ullozhukku marks the directorial debut of Christo Tomy, known for the real-crime documentary series Curry & Cyanide: The Jolly Joseph Case. The narrative is set against the backdrop of flood-ravaged Kuttanad, where monsoon rains have left houses submerged under knee-level water. However, it's not a survival spectacle like 2018, the movie.

    While the situation seems unlivable for us, the characters have developed a great level of familiarity and even comfort with the condition. It seems like a commentary on the indomitable human spirit that drives people to adapt, tolerate, and even thrive in any condition.

    Anju (Parvathy Thiruvothu) plays the role of a dutiful wife caring for her bedridden husband, Thomaskutty (Prashanth Murali). Her mother-in-law Leelamma (Urvashi) is supportive and compassionate. Leelamma acknowledges Anju's sacrifices and treats her with genuine respect. The family is going through a distressing period, but Leelamma and Anju work so well together that they make the situation less intolerable. However, something is rotting in their midst. A menace is lurking just under the surface, threatening to pop out and shatter the uneasy peace between the daughter-in-law and the mother-in-law.

    Ullozhukku puts a different spin on our regular saas-bahu trope. Similar to soap operas, in Ullozhukku, men are almost invisible. The film's women characters drive the narrative and fuel the drama. But, unlike daily serials, Ullozhukku is not a superficial attempt at reimposing gender stereotypes or the belief that two women can't live peacefully in the same house.

    Ullozhukku doesn't present a utopia of an equal society where men and women have the same privileges and powers. It's still a man's world, but it magnifies the never-ending responsibilities and silent sacrifices of women to keep dysfunctional families together. In this film, women make life-altering decisions, tell truths, keep secrets, break the rules, take risks, and show the courage to forge and negotiate new possibilities with those who wronged them.

    If the story of Ullozhukku had been told from a male gaze, it would have ended with violence. Something like: a seasoned patriarch would have killed another patriarchal man, instead of facing the problem with courage and finding a solution that would create space for everyone to coexist.

    Urvashi delivers a standout performance as she's torn between being a mother and mother-in-law. Parvathy effectively captures the delicate situation of Anju, who struggles between choosing what's right for her and what's acceptable for her family.

    Filmmaker Christo Tomy shows real talent for building a mood and exploring different facets of the human condition while subverting expectations in subtle ways.