AANUM PENNUM (Malayalam)
Producers: C.K. Padma Kumar and M. Dileep
Directors: Jai. K, Venu and Aashiq Abu
Cast: Indrajit Sukumaran, Samyuktha Menon, Joju George, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Darshana Rajendran, Asif Ali, Roshan Mathew, Nedumudi Venu and Kaviyoor Ponnamma
OTT Platform: Amazon Prime Video
By Jyothi Venkatesh
This is by far one of the most refreshingly told anthologies of stories about man-woman relationships, delivering home the subtle message that while a man has might, a woman has the mind. The three stories in the anthology deal with the women protagonists Savithri, Rachiyammma and Rani. What I personally loved the best about each of the three stories is that the female protagonists are not only decisive, brave and sorted when one compares them to their respective insecure, indecisive and at times even abusive male counterparts. By the way, in Malayalam , Aanum Pennum means Man & Woman
The three stories in the anthology are that of Savithri, Rachiyammma and Rani. Savithri is directed by Jay K, and the story is set in Kerala at the time right after the British Raj when the communists are publicly prosecuted. Savithri, a comrade on the run, finds refuge disguised as a house-help. Her story is juxtaposed against the story of Panchali from Mahabhaharatha as she lives in exile disguised as a chaperone, as wanted by the party.The premise of the second segment seems to suggest illogically that her potential rape by a powerful man is one side of a coin, while the other side of her is her willingness to use her own body as a weapon when needed. If this is indeed the intent, it is problematic to say the least. While Samyukta gets into the skin of her difficult character with effortless ease, Indrajit Sukumaran is just about adequate.
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The second story Rachiyammma, directed by Venu, is based on a 1969 novella written by Uroob and revolves around Rachiyamma, a fiery but no nonsense milk-maid and her platonic affection towards a plantation officer who takes charge at the estate near her home. Rachiyamma and Kuttikrishnan (the writer’s real name) part ways because of her sexual conservatism since she has taken a vow during a difficult phase in her life to “never stray”. After he leaves the place, she changes her mind about her resolution, acknowledging that it is actually a human need. Parvathy Thiruvoth is as usual brilliant while Asif Ali suits the part.
The third tale which I personally found to be the best as well as logically not at all questionable unlike the earlier two stories revolves around Rani, directed by Aashiq Abu, and sets out to tell the tale of two young and eager college-going teenage lovers whose eagerness and curiosity get the better of them. This segment is based on a short story by the popular contemporary writer, Unni R.
Darshana Rajendran plays the protagonist whose boyfriend (Roshan Mathew) is anxious to have sex with her, in a emote jungle but in a place where they will not be found out by his family or for that matter their community. She is indifferent to what others think. Though the subject of the short story is quite interesting and reflects what the youngsters today think, The twist in the end when the scene shifts to an old couple featuring a delightful Nedumudi Venu and Kaviyoor Ponnamma is mindless but seems to have been incorporated just to entertain the audiences in a wicked way. Darshana Rajendran is cute while Roshan Mathews fits the bill.
On the whole, the anthology is exquisite , endearing, engaging, witty and what’s more proves that women have a mind of their own whereas men often prove to be indecisive.