In his fourth film as a director, Mahesh Narayanan portrays the oppression of women, including physical violence, at home and at work without ever seeking to excite. Ariyippu features stellar performances from Divya Prabha and Kunchacko Boban.
On a cold December morning in gray and wintry Uttar Pradesh, a Kerala worker learns that someone has mixed images of her with images of a woman whose face is partially camouflaged while performing a sexual act. Her husband discovers that the manipulated video is circulating in a WhatsApp group from a factory that produces medical gloves where they both work.
Hareesh (played by Kunchacko Boban) seems certain that his wife Reshmi (Divya Prabha) is not the unidentifiable woman in the video. She is broken because she knows that she is not.
The setting is a suburban fringe of Delhi in late 2020 when COVID had emptied the streets of India and masks on human faces were the norm. In Mahesh Narayanan’s new film Ariippu (Statement), the masks fall off and true colors are revealed as Hareesh decides to fight for justice and Reshmi finds herself drawn into a battle that is not hers.
Ariippu It will premiere at the current Locarno International Film Festival. It is Mahesh’s fourth film as director. He has also written, co-produced and co-edited it. The veteran editor turned to directing in 2017 with Take off, an account of Malayali nurses in ISIS captivity in Iraq. He has explored thorny political issues in each of his films thus far. See you soon – a pioneering pandemic creation that was conceived and realized entirely during the lockdowns in 2020 – was about online strangers and offline exploitation. Malik he dealt with intercommunity relations and establishment games. Ariippu It initially appears to be a saga of Reshmi and Hareesh’s desperation to leave India to work abroad, but ends up being about the effect the fake video has on their marriage and work. Along the way, he explores multiple themes, including the sense of alienation blue-collar personnel experience when they cross borders even within the country, the varying definitions of “greener pastures,” the way the justice system of the India is designed to be easily dealt with. whistleblowers, the limitations that age and poverty impose on people, corruption in business, and the casual moral corruption of the rich. In the background, however, Ariippu It’s about patriarchy and misogyny.
Kunchacko Boban has a disarming personality that he capitalizes on here, so it’s a while before we see that Hareesh’s outrage over the fake video stems from his own ego and not concern for Reshmi. more than one man in Ariippu, when referring to the exploitation of a woman, refers to himself and his pain, relegating women to the margins. Hareesh openly trivializes Reshmi’s trauma and denies her agency every step of the way.
Ariippu it acknowledges the existence of female enablers, as any accurate depiction of patriarchy would, but unlike the public discourse that relentlessly focuses on those women and exaggerates their numbers, this film firmly highlights female solidarity. Ariippu shatter stereotypes along the way great indian cuisine did with her rare portrayal of a lonely daughter-in-law who turns to her mother-in-law for advice. We hear that a woman in this plot was unfair to a woman in the past, but within the frames of this film, Reshmi receives nothing but kindness from her female colleagues and in turn becomes a willing ally in a crusade. undertaken by a senior member of the factory staff (Lovleen Mishra). Both women are the moral compass of the world they inhabit.
women in Ariippu they are sources of comfort, inspiration and strength for each other. Reshmi’s friendship with her colleague Sujaya (Athulya Asadam) is marked by a poignant and unspoken understanding of mutual suffering. And when a woman gets hung up on an important issue, she encourages Reshmi to stand her ground against Harish.
Among AriippuThe keen insights into gender relations are truths we all know but ignore: that when men clash, they retaliate by demeaning each other’s female relatives (as in this story) and members of the community; that patriarchy weapons even innocuous actions and objects. A visit to a bathroom is misunderstood in Ariippua woman who wears a mask to protect herself from COVID becomes a tool to shame another woman in a fake video.
no man in Ariippu it bears the grotesque marks of villainy that commercial cinema often resorts to. Here, we have the sweet-looking Hareesh, the avuncular administrator Suresh (Kannan Arunachalam), and the merciful factory owner (Danish Husain), the kind of benign-looking fellows whose gross acts of omission or commission society would gladly forgive. The film, however, makes it clear that it supports the persecuted, not the persecutors or their enablers.
Ariippu it describes the oppression of women, including physical abuse, without even seeking to arouse. Even in the video that triggers the fundamental conflict, the sex is implied, not shown. In the most shocking scene of the film, when a man commits rape, we barely see the violence with our eyes.
It has taken a filmmaker from Kerala to replicate the heterogeneity in language use in the north in a way that filmmakers from the north do not. Malayalam, Hindi and Tamil are efficiently intertwined in by Ariyippu dialogues as these are the languages naturally spoken by the main actors. One of the most charming scenes in the film features four characters in a room conversing with each other in three languages, not all of which they understand. Communication is possible because the person in the position of greatest socio-economic privilege among them, the factory owner, who speaks Hindi, does not lord it over the others. While this camaraderie does not reflect the prevailing reality in North India, it reflects the best that the North can be. The worst is the man who throws an insult at Hareesh.
Shedding his romantic hero image, Kunchacko Boban, who is also one of Ariippu‘s, has exhibited an amazing range in recent years, from playing an insecure spouse in How old are you? (2014), a lovable villager who helps a boy realize his dream (Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho2016) and tribal rights activist in padada (2022). Harish in Ariippu he is the most unpleasant of these men, but Kunchacko inhabits him with a comfort that belies his innate charm. Even the character’s disheveled look struggles to keep up with the actor’s impeccably clean, scrubbed and washed personality. It’s a fascinating combination, making Hareesh confusing even to a staunch feminist, and therefore a triumph of both the cast and the acting.
Divya Prabha takes on a demanding role that requires her to be inconsistent and confrontational, submissive and rebellious by turns. That a man could write about Reshmi’s confusion without seeing it through a critical lens is impressive. Women who know the fiery rage that follows every humiliation at the hands of sexual predators and discriminatory chauvinists will better understand their differing stances on the video’s subject matter, an anger tempered by the painful awareness that they would complain or even react in any way. it usually brings with it consequences, for the aggrieved, not for the wrongdoer. Divya knows it. And she molds Reshmi into a dormant volcano, apparently unassuming, but bristling with rage, frustration, and conscience.
The cast is full of familiar and unfamiliar faces, all of whom feel like real people ripped from life and planted in this movie. among the memories Ariippu leaves us with the seriousness of Lovleen Mishra, the talking eyes of Athulya Asadam, and the truly amazing Sidharth Bhardwaj as a corrupt Noida cop who honestly asks why Keralites would seek work in the North when Northerners head South. looking for opportunities these days.
Ariippu it is supported by extended shots of the assembly line at the factory, underlining the mechanical ruthlessness of the capitalist enterprise despite the turbulence in the lives of the humans involved. Mahesh Narayanan tells the story of Reshmi and Hareesh as if he were a silent, attentive spectator just inches away. Ariippu immerses us in her universe from the get-go with a prologue that features a cell phone shot of Reshmi playing on our screens as Hareesh films her. Director of photography Sanu John Varughese oversees the pace of events without any disturbing or flashy movement. This minimalist approach is taken by production design by Jothish Shankar and sound design by Vishnu Govind and Sree Sankar. I can only think of a couple of times in the narrative when understatement results in too much information being left out.
Few cinematographers have shot NCR in the dead of winter as sharply as Sanu has here.. His compositions in this film perhaps more closely rival Angello Faccini’s cinematography for Ivan Ayr’s film. meel patthar (2021) and Avik Mukhopadhayay in Shoojit Sircar’s October (2018). During the day, Sanu shows the exteriors of the city and the factory with all the color and warmth that is drawn from them, reflecting the monotonous routine and lack of joy of the protagonists. She switches to gloomy lighting at night, even in the dilapidated, crash-block interior of her house.
Slice of Life cinema has rarely been more true to life than this.
Rating: 4.5 (out of 5 stars)
Ariyippu premiered at the Locarno International Film Festival on August 4, 2022
Anna MM Veticad is an award-winning journalist and author of The Adventures of an Intrepid Film Critic. She specializes in the intersection of cinema with feminism and other sociopolitical concerns. Twitter: @annavetticad, Instagram: @annammvetticad, Facebook: AnnaMMVetticadOfficial
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