Malini 22 Palayamkottai stars Nithya Menen in the title role while Krish J. Sathaar and Naresh play supporting roles. A remake of the Malayalam film 22 Female Kottayam (2012) by Aashiq Abu, the film will feature musical score by Arvind-Shankar.
Malini 22 Palayamkottai stars Nithya Menen in the title role while Krish J. Sathaar and Naresh play supporting roles. A remake of the Malayalam film 22 Female Kottayam (2012) by Aashiq Abu, the film will feature musical score by Arvind-Shankar. less
“Malini 22 Palayamkottai is a revenge drama that falls short due to half-baked execution. Wonderful performances by the lead actors make the film worth a watch.”
If there's anything I have learned in the past sixteen months of reviewing films, it is that any film can spring a surprise. For a good part of the first hour, Sri Priya's "Malini 22 Palayamkottai" remains an incredibly hard film to watch. The tone is uneven and certain directorial choices often get very amateurish. There are attempts at humor which fall flat so badly that it will make you wonder if you made a huge mistake by walking in to watch this film. Kovai Sarala, with her trademark loud acting, obliterates every frame she occupies, singlehandedly ruining as much of the movie as she could manage to. But then.. it gets better. A heck of a lot better.
One is likely to mistake the film's general attitude for misandry if they are not patient enough with what its trying to convey. But because at its heart it is dealing with an issue that affects us all - men and women alike - Sri Priya draws a line and prevents this film from turning into a men vs. women tussle. It says that the real enemy could be anyone. And that's what fate has in store for Malini, a young nurse whose dreams shatter when she realizes that the person she trusts the most is a wolf dressed in sheep's clothing. This kind of betrayal is great fodder for a solid revenge drama and that's the route the film eventually takes.
The portrayal of rape in Indian cinema has got to be one of the worst travesties audiences have been subject to. By turning all villains into rapists and by making rape the goto offense against helpless women, Indian cinema trivialized an appalling atrocity. Our film certification board was either plain stupid or completely apathetic, because growing up, I watched things in our films I clearly shouldn't have. Something went seriously wrong along the line and we ended up with a country filled with cold, callous people. Our films have become relatively more sensitive towards portrayal of rape, but there's no undoing what happened in the 70s, 80s and early 90s.
Here's where "Malini 22.." benefits from being directed by a woman. Bereft of the male-gaze of the person calling the shots, the rape scenes feel just like they are supposed to - they make you uncomfortable and sicken you to the bone. The film conveys the helplessness of Malini and makes us absorb the anger before quickly changing the film's setting to a prison.
In captivity, Malini bonds with a fellow inmate who imbibes in her the strength to undo the injustice she has faced. There's something about the performance of the inmate and the way she looks that makes you want to relate her to Nalini - the woman convicted for aiding the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. One of the surprising things about "Malini 22.. " is how it never feels like an issue film in spite of coming close to being one on many occasions. It becomes an important film because India is awakening to an alarming crisis and not enough is being done. The film capitalizes on what has happened in the past year, but not in a cheap and opportunistic way. Before you even realize it, you are hooked and rooting for an unlikely heroine.
I have come to expect Sri Priya to be a person with good sensibilities. After all, she's the main reason why "Aval Appadithan" is one of my favorite films of all time. There's not too much to complain about the direction in the second half and most scenes are handled without major issues, but when you have written material in your hands that's potentially powerful, not screwing up is too low a bar. This film needed the stylization of a true, cold-blooded revenge movie. The choice of music hint at Tarantino's influences but what this film neeeded was to go all out and create a unique and vibrant template. Sri Priya still deserves to be commended for not resorting to over-explaining or spoon-feeding, letting us connect the dots.
It's a film that requires tons of patience to sit through its shortcomings. But if you do, trust me, the eventual payoff is worth it. No matter what your position is on the quantum of punishment that a rapist deserves, the film's final confrontation is still a delicious slice of cathartic, escapist cinema.