Friday, 31 July 2020

Ozhivudivasathe Kali (An Off-Day Game) [2015]

The Malayalam movie Ozhivu Divasathe Kali, Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s adaptation of an Unni R. short story, is a classic buddy film on surface, given how it’s largely about a booze-fuelled day trip by five middle-aged Kerala friends. Yet, three facets established very early on its brutally savage political commentary – cacophonous pre-election rallies by political parties that it started with; a sequence where four of the friends, taking a break from the election hullabaloo, are joined in their drinking binge by a fifth guy who’s wary of being seen consuming alcohol, on account of his higher caste (who’re typically associated with abstention and vegetarianism); and their getaway takes place on the day of the voting. The five men symbolically represented different social strata – the aggressive Dharman (Nishthar Sait) who works in the Gulf, the sexist Ashokan (Arun Nair), the afore-mentioned Brahmin man Thirumeni (Girish Nair), the comparatively progressive and liberal-minded Vinayan (Pradeep Kumar), and Dasan (Baiju Netto), who possibly belongs to the historically oppressed Dalit community and which is regularly insinuated by highlighting the colour of his skin. As they get increasingly sloshed, they start openly leching after the local woman (Abhija Sivakala) who’s there to cook for them, certain old grievances start coming to the fore, and some of them start revealing their true colours, eventually leading to a shockingly horrific climax. While subtlety probably wasn’t a strength here, Sasidharan’s confrontational approach – he neither softballed nor minced words – made for a ferocious indictment on how casteism, misogyny, patriarchy, bigotry and glibly reactionary attitudes have been normalized among large swathes of India’s middle and upper middle-class social milieu. The film’s improvisational style further heightened its stark naturalism.

Director: Sanal Kumar Sasidharan
Genre: Drama/Political Drama/Buddy Film
Language: Malayalam
Country: India

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