Left me spell-bound.  Right from the juxtaposition of pictures of ferocious goddesses with men at their feet and grim old men with more than a young scared wife at their feet. This is a story of three generations, a story of relationships, a story of a father and a son, a story of a husband and his wife, a story of a mother and her son. A story of love, a story of anger, a story of fear and a story of pride.  The film is mostly an easy watch (considering it deals with a divorce proceeding, abuse and anger. Never once do you feel nauseous or have to sit through extremely uncomfortable scenes. At the same time, you feel the poignancy. A tight-rope walk which the director has undertaken with elan and ease), but you can still feel its embrace long after you have left it. The proud matriarch portrayed majestically by Swetha Menon is fascinating.

“Please look after her like your own daughter” “What for ? Any woman can stand on her own feet. Why would she need anybody else ? “

How must it feel to be a woman for whom this is her absolute truth ?  How must it be to feel powerful, almost disdainful of men ? Even watching it gives me a sense of power ! Of emancipation.

Her daughter-in-law is a near contrast. Quiet and patient. Yet as we find out, she is no servile creature. Malllika’s performance is brilliant. She shed tears, she gets kicked by her husband, yet she is not pathetic. Maybe the movie oscillating between the past and the present is also instrumental in conveying the correct picture of her, to us. She has some of the best lines of the movie.

That day, I was convinced of one thing. Till then, I thought I was a chaste and loving wife. I finally understood that a slave doesn’t have the freedom to love. A slave can only serve. The love of a slave is just the like the dog’s tail wagging. I have lived as a slave, let me at-least die a proud woman.

Her almost naive explanation of her love is elegance in itself.

Did you love Thanu Pillai ? Yes. Why did you love such a cruel person ? Because he is the father of my child.

For in India, what is romance compared to parenthood ? What is a spouse compared to a son ?

The woman of the third generation is Bhavna, a lawyer. She is no walk-over, but she is no firebrand feminist either. She smilingly recites her grandmother’s words about bitches in heat (which made me all tearful and angry), she kisses her boyfriend without any coyness, and thinks divorce after fifty is meaningless. She jokes, she questions, .. she is natural. And she is Thanu Pillai’s lawyer. Rather a master-stroke of the director to put her as Pillai’s lawyer rather than that of his wife.

Lal and Asif Ali are the men, with the former portraying the first two generation men. Asif is pretty much the confused youngster who thinks his father is a cruel tyrant. Rather short tempered himself, yet a simpleton as Bhavna observes. Quite a neat essay. But Lal, what complex hues the characters have. To bring them out without hamming is something only he could do. It’s almost ironical that such crudeness of the character brings so much delicacy to the movie. What an act, and what an actor.

This is a must-watch film. Not because it deals with issues. It doesn’t. It simply is a tale of three generations. You see, it is cinema at its best. It tells a story, not a sermon.

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