The Great Indian Kitchen – A movie title that instantly drew my attention taking my mind on a culinary trail, especially when my entire family was trying to cope with the Covid crisis.
What Made Me Watch This Movie?
I am a big fan of food – Whether it’s a food show, movie or MasterChef kitchen. The trailer of this movie was very convincing. Just the starting scenes of fried bananas, tapioca biryani or authentic sweets from the kitchens of Kerala tempted me to watch this movie even further.
The First House Scenes :
The first hour of the movie intrigues you with what’s cooking in the kitchen whether it’s dosa, sambar loaded with vegetable or the filter coffee that makes its way into the everyday breakfast scene of this family. After a point, it gets really exhaustive to watch the same mundane kitchen drama again and again.
The Story Unfolds In a Village on the Outskirts of Kerala :
This story unfolds in a tucked-away village on the outskirts of Kerala. With brilliant performances by actress Nimisha Sajayan and Suran Venjaramoodu, who begin their journey through an arranged marriage, the movie gradually throws light on how a woman is silently suppressed in a patriarchal family. The viewer is left high on anger, frustration and a million questions that tick on the mind.
The first hour highlights the woman’s role, with Nimisha shown following all family traditions, rituals, protocols with due diligence. From helping her mother-in-law in the kitchen to observing the family’s daily routine. She sees her mother-in-law handing over even basic essentials such as a toothbrush & toothpaste to her husband; same with his footwear too. Nimisha continues with her odd mundane jobs such as feeding this ever-hungry family, cleaning the breakfast table, washing their clothes, mobbing the whole house by herself, fixing the leaking sink, washing utensils thereafter. There comes a point where the audience is left with disgust as to why she is the centre of so much torture. I mean, come on, isn’t there Zomato once in a while, or a full-time house-help. Or for that matter, smaller aspects such as why can’t her husband rinse his teacup every once in a while or clean the table after a meal. Nimisha’s anger tears the ceiling apart when she isn’t allowed to step outside her house to cook the rice as it’s unacceptable, whereas, at the same time, her MIL has gone to help her daughter at her plush apartment.
Handling of Sensitive Topics :
Director Jeo Baby has tackled sensitive subjects such as menstruation and how a traditional orthodox family isolates the woman for 7 days. He further highlights the plight of how women are made to take cold river dips or not to touch or come in front of men in the house or can’t even dry their undergarments in proper sunlight. The film touches on another sensitive topic of the Supreme Court’s judgement on Sabarimala.
Back in the house, the physical intimacy of the couple may rage the viewer as the protagonist is only interested in his pleasure and shuns his wife when she talks about foreplay or the pain that she undergoes while in the act.
The best part of the movie is when the woman comes out of her typecast shadow and serves leftover water from the sink as tea to her husband & FIL. She further throws the bucketful of water from the washed utensils at their faces. That’s the most liberating part of the movie! The movie, with its end scene where the actress drives to a dance class to reclaim her passion for dance, brings a content smile to your face.
A not-so-glamourized film, it hits hard at the gender-biased patriarchal society and its rigid practices, which were not discussed on any OTT platform in the past. The movie is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video. It clearly highlights the fact that if your intention is right, budgets don’t matter.
A must-watch, especially for the ‘so-called’ flag-bearers of manhood in the house.