Christy is a Malayalam romantic-drama film released in theatres on Feb 17th this year. Starring Malavika Mohanan and Mathew Thomas in lead roles, this film explores an unconventional age-gap love story between a teacher and a student. When I first heard about the film, Benyamin and G.R. Indugopan came to my attention. Also, the storyline was non-conforming to stereotypic standard images of an obvious “boy meets girl” love story. But, the movie didn’t create a buzz once it was out in the theatres or on the Sony Liv OTT platform. What exactly could be the reason behind it? Let’s dig a little deeper. (Spoilers ahead).
Acting: Miscast or Misfortune?
Mathew has proved to be excellent and efficient in handling almost every character set within his age limit. Be it an amusing teenager in “Thanneer Mathan Dinangal” and “Jo and Jo” or a responsible one of the same class in “Kumbalangi Nights”, he has handled the craft with utmost commitment. But Roy was not executed convincingly because his chroma point reached its limit during the movie. To be precise, it was when the otherwise carefree and cheerful Roy turned out to be a much more delusional and hopeless romantic. Roy’s moments of utmost desperation and daydreaming were characterised satisfyingly, but, at times, it reduced to mere advancements that were only trying to get it done with desperation and nothing more.
There was this desperate Roy in all of us once when we were teenagers – When we wanted to go on a trip with friends, but parents vetoed; when we wanted to try on a hairstyle which the school did not allow; when we watched the annual day dance performance which we couldn’t be a part of due to academic preferences etc. But where was this story’s first and most crucial factor, my boy? Love!
The depiction of a first love story for every teenage romantic drama involved a lot of moments that could fit well in the “that’s so cute” category. Here, it was (inferred from the story) Roy’s first love towards an elderly woman who was also a teacher figure to him. It’s not very uncommon when you think of finding movies that have storylines with teacher-student romances. What makes it unique here is the living realities and situations both characters, especially Christy, go through.
The complexity of their relationship is understood in plain sight, but their emotional complexity is par below expectation. This is one of the major downfalls of the movie, and no amount of justification could prove why some 100+ stares from Christy are the only reaction she could give towards Roy’s immature advancements. And Roy, on the other hand, could not convincingly portray how the love dynamics’ representation is different from two people of similar age groups to two people of much different age groups. Yes, it can happen, but considering the sociological, emotional and behavioural factors, the actors needed to excel much to portray these two unique characters in a much more soulful way.
This story is one of the rare scenarios where the actors could have explored their inner potential to reinvent themselves rather than portraying what they studied from the many conventional romantic movies released so far.
Patriarchal influence on characters
Don’t get me wrong, but I cannot explain further without getting to the core of this movie’s subject (athe enik ividem patriarchy kond ittillel samadhanam varilla). Christy was in a highly difficult period when she met Roy. Roy was her only trustworthy acquaintance in this period of helplessness. There were moments when Joseph, Christy’s dad, played by Joy Mathew, turned his back towards her without giving good emotional support.
Christy was the family’s breadwinner, and we could easily understand how much they depended on her. Even though this was unconventional, the portrayal of her family and all the members was utterly realistic. It also brings forth the issues of an independent woman, which are not discussed in other ways. Even though she has a good job and handles the family’s expenses well, she is still considered an outcast as a divorcee. No person can withstand these situations without having someone at least for moral support, and Roy gave precisely that.
Legends say there are hints throughout the movie that this woman likes the boy. She never opposes any of his advances or gives confusing stares and poker-faced smiles whenever she receives a chance to reciprocate. This could be understood as the hollowness of the character or of the continuous exasperated situation in which she is expected to explain not only the post-divorced state but also the relationship with a teenage boy, if at all she had a liking towards him. But like many women in this society, Christy is afraid either of reciprocating her feelings or breaking bonds with her only true friend. Chances are that she needed to keep the company of her only solace and escape from the clutches of this society’s pressure. She might have also felt Roy would get better with time once his teenage self stopped fancying her.
It was only the right thing to do if she had directly expressed her feelings positively or not. But, she chose not to, also may be because a precise answer would only make Roy go to the following levels of desperation: trying to win her love, if it is a no and publicising their relationship, which in effect can land her in trouble if it is a yes. It is not easy for a woman in her situation to make a choice, but she could have at least made some expressions to make way for nonverbal communication.
Questionable climax and pathetic glorification
Yes, the desperate boy made it past the immigration clearance even though clear signs given by Christy’s friend could have helped him buy back his bike after the ticket money was refunded. Christy’s stares now added a tint of “shock” element to it which shows some evidence that this was not only unexpected, but also she had something to hide from him and everyone else in her home town. He reaches the Maldives only to find himself abandoned by Christy in a hostile country. As inexcusable as it is, anyone would have felt sympathy for a young boy who came to a new country without contact. Even the officials could understand the situation.
Christy only woke to reality when his desperation reached its stupidest level. She handled the situation without getting him into trouble by buying him a return ticket. This is the least any person could have expected from her considering how good their friendship was before having a trivial conflict a few days ago, excluding the love factor.
At least there, things could have ended well by either Roy realising his mistake of clinging to someone uncertainly or Christy speaking something for closure. But as always, she kept staring, and he kept waiting. Finally, a new character is introduced as one of the officers in the Maldives airport. She tells him that he knows how to love. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have come so far. This was the last thing an immature person in his position should have heard, considering many unclear borders he had passed way beyond without even consulting for Christy’s consent.
Considering other factors in the movie, there are a couple of good things too. The cinematography by Anend. C. Chandran is unique, and the music by Govind Vasantha is soulful. Love does happen, but all acts of desperation in the name of love should not be linked with the true feeling of love. I hope Roy might have grown past his immature self to become a better version of himself. Also, hope Christy might have learnt to be more expressive and considerate. Even if it is a true story, our true selves need to learn and update accordingly with time. What are your thoughts on the movie? Let us know in the comments below.