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Movie Review: 22, Female, Kottayam

What is it with two Kottayam movies coming to theaters almost together? There was Kottayam Brothers aka Kobra and Aashiq Abu's latest of the name given above - makes a native of Kottayam viz., yours truly pretty happy.

There was a sizable crowd at our neighborhood second-string theater for the matinee show. Warned about the content, we had left the kiddos at home and were accompanied by my MIL. She bemoaned the fact that we had left the kids at home, but only a little into the movie, she was totally silenced. Yes, it's not a movie to take one's kids to. It's dark, it's disturbing. It's totally true. In fact, it should rather be named "10-60, any female, India" which would have been more apt.

This it the premise - A young Malayali nurse Tessa (Reema Kallingal) meets a young travel agent Cyril (Fahad) and agrees to shack up with him till it's time for her to leave for Canada. Little does she know that she has let herself in for some horrendous experiences that culminate in a prison sentence.How she turns the tables on her enemies is the latter half of the movie.

The movie is very well-written, full of verve and bite. Prathap Pothen has done wonders with his role. Even Sathar's cameo as an aged Lothario with only the best intentions at heart (!) is really good. Perhaps the only part of the movie that seemed a tad cliched is the prison part. Undoubtedly the best characterization of the lot is that of Cyril Mathews - the unabashed and totally unrepentant seducer of females who feels at the end that even the loss of a very important body part (ahem!) is not enough to disrupt his career. His character is totally ambiguous - one cannot determine whether his character deserves any iota of sympathy due to a soft corner he might have had for Tessa. He retains his menace to the very end - one has to say "Wah, wah" for both the writer and the actor. 

The movie challenges each viewer, I think. For men, it may (or not!) make them rethink their attitude towards women. For me, I had to tell myself over and over again that not all men are insidious creatures like the ones in the movie and that most men I encounter in my daily life are proof of the fact (thank God for that!). And despite what the movie shows, I think that at least 90% of young Malayali nurses would not jump into a live-in relationship. In fact there was an atavistic, Victorian part of me that said that Tessa probably deserved her fate, seeing that she did live-in with Cyril purely voluntarily.  But I know that is totally hypocritical of me - it is ultimately the woman's choice that matters. 

I wouldn't want to watch the movie again - just thinking about it makes my flesh crawl. But if you are looking for a movie that will give you a paradigm shift - go and watch 22, Female, Kottayam. The song "Chillaney" by itself is worth watching and listening to.

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