To argue that every movie should make sense might be a big expectation. But it is important to understand that there are movies which subtly or loudly portray various forms of toxicity. Some of these are so commonly accepted by society that it does not stand out. Let us analyse the plots of a few such Malayalam movies that had problematic storylines but were widely accepted by the audience.
A super hit movie where the story went super derogatory in many areas. Yes, I agree it was a 1980s movie but since this is often telecasted and even recommended as a must-watch, it is important to analyse the toxicity captured in this movie. The entire story revolves around Mohanlal acting as an undercover police officer to capture a criminal who escaped from prison. To find out his whereabouts, Mohanlal keeps a watch on the convict’s daughter, who we all recognise by the name Gaadha (Girija Shettar).
Even though the plot is serious in nature, the movie is famous for its many comedy scenes. Even the scene where Mohanlal ‘accidentally’ witnesses Gaadha changing her clothes is captured in a comical manner. Maybe the comical angle is the reason why people do not think that this scene is toxic. Accidentally being in a girl’s room is acceptable but if she changes clothes and you decide to keep your eyes wide open and watch, it is not funny but creepy. And post this scene, he claims to have fallen in love with her and despite her lack of affection towards him, he proceeds to literally stalk her and even blackmail her into saying “I love you” to him.
So yes, Mohanlal’s character showcases all the narcissist characteristics and yet even today people believe he was just being romantic. Wouldn’t you agree this is one of those Malayalam movies that had a problematic storyline?
Meleparambil Aanveedu (1993)
This movie is likely to stay forever in the minds of Malayalis for its humorous dialogues and scenes. Is there any Malayali who would not remember the dialogue “Velakkariyayirunthalum nee en Mohavalli”?
Jayaram is brought up in a family where his father makes all the decisions, and he is also afraid of his two elder brothers and uncle. Anyway, Jayaram falls in love with Shobana and ends up marrying her without informing his family. Since he fears their reaction he decides to keep his marriage a secret and makes his wife pretend to be a servant in his house. This is the first level of toxicity, but since this is the core part of the plot, let us look past it for now.
A turning point in this movie is the shanthi muhurtham time (Tamilian’s auspicious day for a married couple’s first night). Shobana is working as a servant doing all the household chores, her mother-in-law mistreats her (remember the scene where Shobana puts Kolam with puttu podi and gets slapped by her mother-in-law) and her brothers-in-law are trying to woo her. In the middle of all these troubles, instead of trying to overcome all the issues and establish her true identity, Jayaram plots and plans to consummate their marriage. Well, could the portrayal of male chauvinism get any better?!
As the movie’s name suggests, the entire plot is centred around men. The women characters in this movie lack an identity of their own and merely play a role that caters to the needs of the men. Jayaram’s mother is either always shown in the kitchen or she is complaining about wanting a daughter-in-law to share the household chores with. Also, Shobana who is from a very rich and influential family agrees to act as a servant and without uttering a word, she bears all the domestic abuses. So technically this movie portrays ‘Kulasthree’ in action!
Meesha Madhavan (2002)
One of the most entertaining movies in Mollywood is well known for its unique story and rib-tickling jokes. Dileep who plays the role of Madhavan is a ‘good-hearted’ thief and the people of his village are so very open-minded that they still respect him despite this career choice. This, in itself, is a problem in the storyline – how can a thief be so well accepted by society? He is friends with the local policemen, villagers casually ask him to steal and give them items and at-least two girls fall in love with him. Indirectly, we are being told that you can be a thief or a murderer but if you are supposedly good at heart, you will still be treated like a normal person. Oh, and one reason why he is considered to be good is that apparently whatever he steals never goes out of the village and he claims to be the ‘Chekkinte swantham Kalan’ – Village’s own thief! (Proud Applause)
The second issue in this movie is the scene where Dileep steals the aranjanam (Waistlet) worn by Kavya while she is asleep. Many may interpret this scene as a romantic one. But if you really think about it, this scene actually depicts borderline sexual abuse. Violating a person’s space or body, in the name of romance, should not be trivialised.
Also Read: Worst Rated Malayalam Movies By IMDB
A movie that is tagged as a family drama with the usual cliched plot of the hero (Mohanlal) sacrificing his youth and moving to UAE to support his family. Cut to today’s scenario, Mohanlal is well-settled, and his family decides to ‘force’ him into marriage.
He goes for a pennu kannal where the girl is 20 years old whereas he is 41 years. Post this, he makes the mature statement that he will only marry someone who is closer to his age. And as soon as I thought this movie is progressive, he goes for his second pennu kannal. Here the girl is around his age, and he decides to marry her. But then his uncle (Innocent) reveals that he had hidden the truth about the girl. She is a widow and her husband passed away just 4 days post their marriage. Hearing this, Mohanlal’s mother (Kaviyoor Ponnamma) goes berserk and starts over-reacting as if the girl was a terrorist.
There are already a lot of unnecessary stigmas attached to being a widow or a divorcee, and movies sensationalising such aspects will only worsen society’s perception.
Thattathin Marayathu (2012)
A movie, captured in a very fun and easy manner, which talks about a college romance. If analysed in-depth, this movie covers various serious topics like inter-religion love, suppression of women based on religion, moral policing and even politics. Like any Vineeth Sreenivasan movie, he was able to strike the chord of lakhs of Malayalis by making this film very realistic through the usage of comic dialogues and magical songs.
So, what exactly is the problem with this movie? It is the glorification of physical beauty/attraction. Throughout the movie, Aisha’s (Isha Talwar) appearance and beauty are highlighted and in various instances, it is shown that this is the only reason that Vinod (Nivin Pauly) fell in love with her. The most surprising element is that Vinod never made an effort to actually talk to Aisha and get to know her as a person. They barely exchange 5 full dialogues with each other, yet both are supposedly madly in love. I wonder if Vinod will continue loving her in the future if she becomes fat or gets dark spots all over her face.
It is important to understand that physical attraction is essential but to remain in love and for the relationship to last, there should be a lot of other elements such as a mental connection, mutual respect and a solid emotional balance. The physical attraction would disappear as quickly as it appears, so look for a beautiful soul, not a beautiful face.
Also Read: Types Of Proposals In Malayalam Movies
If you found this analysis of problematic storylines in Malayalam movies entertaining, share your views and also tell us about other movies that portrayed elements of toxicity.