Review- 22 Female Kottayam
Director- Aashiq Abu
Producer- O G Sunil
Cast- Rima Kallingal, Fahadh Faasil, Prathap Pothen, TG Ravi, Sathar etc.
Music- Rex Vijayan- Bijibal
Review By : Unni R Nair/ Kerala9.com
I somehow had the feel that this film could prove to be different. When Fahadh Faasil, who had earlier made a wasted debut with ‘Kai Eththum Doorathu’, made a comeback with ‘Kerala Café’ and ‘Pramani’, I had told my friends that a new sensible star might have arrived who may even metamorphose into a talented, promising director. But Rima Kallingal, I never knew she would mature so well and so fast as an actress; she perhaps didn’t have the looks and appearance that would appeal to the ‘old school’ film buff and critic in me- one who still loves to see Nargis and Nutan and adores Sreevidya and Shobhana and Manju Warrier (Ha ha!!) Anyhow hats off Rima and congrats Fahadh for your wonderful performances in ’22 Female Kottayam’; performances that take the film to an entirely different level. Hey, I didn’t mention the real star. The star, as far as ’22 Female Kottayam’ is concerned, is director Aashiq Abu, who gave us last year the very refreshing ‘Salt n’ Pepper’.
I wouldn’t want to dwell too much on the story; it would be like giving away things. ’22 Female Kottayam’ is the story of a 22 year old girl from Kottayam, Tessa.K.Abraham. Tessa works in a hospital in Bengaluru and like many other nurses, dreams of going abroad and making her life better. It is in the course of trying this out that she meets Cyril (Fahadh Faasil), who runs an agency that helps with emigration and related things. Cyril starts helping Tessa get things ready and in due course they get drawn to each other. They even get physical and Cyril is so possessive about Tessa that one day, during a visit to a pub, he thrashes up a guy who misbehaves with Tessa. That lands him in trouble, as the guy is the son of some important and influential person. Cyril has to go into hiding for a couple of days. Hegde (Prathap Pothen), who is like a mentor to Cyril, helps him out by hiding him in his farmhouse and also by talking to those who want to hunt down Cyril. Tessa, who is so worried about Cyril, doesn’t know that things are to go totally wrong for her. All hell would break loose on her the very same day and she would be rendered totally helpless. It’s from here that the story takes a new turn.
The highlight of the film is that it’s a totally woman-centric film. We are brought face to face not just with Tessa’s fate, but also with the destiny of many such other women whom she comes across later in the film. We come across guys on the prowl, one who approaches a hapless and helpless girl with a courteous smile and says “Can I have sex with you?” and then goes on to rape her brutally and another who never forces him on anyone but loves girl and accepts sexual favours from girls he helps out in many ways. At the same time there is the flirtatious old patient named Ravi, who finally evolves into getting a saint like proportion. The way the lead characters- that of Tessa and Cyril- are portrayed, is what makes the film so refreshingly different. It becomes almost difficult to point out such characters that you have come across in Malayalam Cinema. You may name Hindi films and Hollywood movies that bear semblance to ’22 Female Kottayam’ and I won’t bother deny the parallels (I myself felt it and even felt like asking myself, “Hey, is this going to be yet another remake”), but there is no denying the fact that ’22 Female Kottayam’ is refreshingly different and a portrayal of startling realities from contemporary life. It’s a film that you got to see and it’s a film that you got to take your wives to see; you should also recommend your women friends to go see the film. But, in our social conditions, it may not be advisable to go see the movie along with your kids and your other close relatives. You are likely to feel awkward at places…
Well, this review won’t be complete if I don’t mention things that I didn’t like about ’22 Female Kottayam’. There is a sequence in which a police officer, a Kannada guy, gives an explanation in English and which has been dubbed by someone with a very obvious Malayalam accent. The film being one that strives to be different, the makers should have taken note of such minute things too, which could have been overlooked if we were discussing some usual commercial flick. The lady cops in the jail, they seem to be deliberately pictured in a rather silly and clownish way and most of them seem cast in the same mould, sans individuality. Now, don’t think I am pointing out negatives just for the sake of it, these things did bother me, but it won’t stop me from saying that the film is a must-see, for film-buffs.
Fahadh or Rima, whom should I rank first. Since Rima plays the title character, that of the 22 year old girl from Kottayam, most people no doubt would tend to say that the film belongs to her. Yes, the film does belong to her, as much as it belongs to Fahadh. Rima lives her role to perfection while Fahadh simply excels himself as Cyril. In the closing scene, the performance that he puts in and the ease with which he does it is simply amazing. T.G.Ravi as Ravi, the elderly patient in the hospital, does a great job and you also like Sathar playing DK. Prathap Pothen as Hegde does justice to his role. The newcomers in the cast too mostly fit into their roles; the only ones that stand out as misfits are the ones I mentioned earlier…
Shyju Khalid’s cinematography is one of the major highlights of ’22 Female Kottayam’; so great we have such brilliant cinematographers coming up. Vivek Harshan has done a brilliant job of the editing and M.Bawa renders able support on the art-direction side.
The songs are good and the music awesome. Kudos to Rex Vijayan and Bijibal. The songs jell with the theme and the plot and the background score enhances the mood.
Abhilash K Nair and Shyam Pushkaran do a brilliant job of the script; they don’t go to moralize, justify, explain or idolize people and things. They tend to be as realistic as possible and have done a commendable work of the script. (Shyam, who was one of the script writers for ‘Salt n’ Pepper’ too, has proved his versatility by penning a very different script this time).
When I saw ‘Daddy Cool’, Aashiq Abu’s first film, I was not that impressed. I felt the direction part was fine, but then the script played the villain and the film seemed more like two films in one. With ‘Salt n’ Pepper’, Aashiq Abu compensated for all that and did a film on a well written script, one that had no loose ends at all. Well, what would be the next, I kept guessing until he announced ’22 Female Kottayam’… I wanted to know whether the ‘Daddy Cool’ director would repeat himself or whether it would be another fresh, impressive film. Now that ’22 Female Kottayam’ is out, I am happy that he did such a good film. Congrats Aashiq Abu. So what next?!
Verdict: Good… in fact startling, disturbing and impressive. Must see…