Kerala

Reduced to a soulless docu-fiction

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Kamal’s biopic on writer Madhavikutty is a staged and pretentious affair

In the very first scenes of Aami, a bird hits the ceiling fan and ricochets off the window glass, forming a bright scarlet blob. Somehow, the blood looks artificial, and so does Kamal’s much-hyped biopic — staged and pretentious to the last frame.

In his jarring potpourri of fact and fiction, Kamala’s tempestuous mindscape loses its edge, making the film a soulless docu-fiction. The director simply fails to breathe intensity into the shell of gorgeous saris and cascading curls.

But the worst part of the film is something else — it tries to salvage the notoriety of the woman who wrote Ente Kadha. So Kamal introduces us to this author and her platonic affairs, this all-new Aami who revels in erotica only when she holds the pen. Kamal conveniently cloaks some individuals and incidents as fantasy, reducing her to a neurotic liar in the process.

Apart from her addictive oeuvre, Madhavikutty is unconditionally admired for the enigma she is. But here Kamal tries to decode her in terms of his rusty moral syntax. There is a cardinal and clear-cut difference between obscenity and sensuality, but the director confuses one for other. The scene in which Madhava Das brings a sex worker to groom his teenage bride and the consequent striptease is nothing but cheesy.

The second half of the film is somewhat lost in its conflict of interests. Here Aami is allowed to touch a man other than her husband and imaginary lover. Finally, you find some glimpses of passion in her affair with this much-younger Muslim scholar. But here also Kamal is keen on exonerating herAnd between syrupy Urdu ghazals and some exasperating sermons on Islam, Kamal pitches the most dramatic event of her life – conversion.

Manju Warrier is never effortless as Aami as she struggles to bring in fire and poignancy to her act. But then it’s the censored, child-friendly version where she is only supposed to heap on make-up and break into throaty, overly-rehearsed laughter. The film may still hold some charm to people who are meeting Kamala for the first time, but for a generation who grew up reading her, it’s no more than a hollow deal.

Navamy Sudhish

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 7:04:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/reduced-to-a-soulless-docu-fiction/article22718058.ece

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