Movies

‘Aabhasam’ review: a satirical take on contemporary society

Rima Kallingal in a scene from Aabhaasam

Rima Kallingal in a scene from Aabhaasam   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

In one of the few sequences where the characters of ‘Aabhasam’ speak directly to the audience, the character played by Mamukkoya talks about people who dare to think differently. The comparison is to an onion which refuses to take the fixed path from the sack to the basket to the bowl, and instead jumps out to follow an independent path. The camera closely follows the onion which, before long, gets crushed under the wheels of a police vehicle.

That happens to be one of the messages that the film wants to convey mostly through allegories, some of them subtle, and some others in-your-face. Jubith Namradath, in his debut film, attempts a satirical take on contemporary society through a bus journey from Bangalore to Thiruvananthapuram. The story happens inside the bus named ‘Gandhi’ which belongs to Democracy Travels, with Ambedkar, Marx, Jinnah and Godse being their other buses.

Inside the bus is a cross-section of our society, from a young woman who has been tricked by her parents to agree to an arranged marriage and a little girl who is dreading the advances from her uncle at her ancestral home to a sexually frustrated man and a young man who always tends to stand up for what is right.

  • Film: Aabhasam
  • Direction: Jubith Namradath
  • Starring: Suraj Venjaramoodu, Rima Kallingal, Alencier Ley Lopez

As the title ‘Aabhasam’ (which stands for Aarsha Bharatha Samskaram) suggests, the satire points at the self-appointed moral guardians, who are shown to be using their twisted understanding of ‘culture’ as a veil to cover up their own perversions. We see the same persons who get uncomfortable at open expressions of love making, lewd remarks and behaving inappropriately with single women travellers. In between, the film takes detours to other issues, including beef politics.

Yet, half-way through the journey, the narrative continues to still meander along aimlessly, like a bus without a definite destination. Too many issues are taken up and crammed into the available screen time. Some of the individual stories prick your interest, like the one involving Indrans. But, as loud as the film is in driving home some of its messages, at times literally explaining it, the script needlessly restrains itself in giving us a little more background of some of the more interesting characters. The dialogues are either too obvious or too weak.

In some of its rather bleak phases, the film springs small surprises, especially the scene where some of the passengers, without a second thought, hop on to the ‘Godse’ bus, when the ‘Gandhi’ bus gets stuck temporarily. But, these scenes are few and far between. The film itself is almost like the overnight bus journey that it uses as a tool for its messages. All darkness outside the window, with a few bright spots.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 11:36:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/aabhasam-review-a-satirical-take-on-contemporary-society/article23781604.ece

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