During the festival of Attukal Pongala, when their wives are away, three men decide to spend the day with a sex worker: that forms the crux of the story.

Adult comedy Vedivazhipadu A tale of sexual repression misogyny and adultery
Flix Mollywood Sunday, August 25, 2019 - 17:56

The genre of sex comedy has been talked about and theorised over, particularly in the aftermath of bizarre and sometimes even distasteful film series such as Masti and Kya Kool Hai Hum. So, the initial reaction to Vedivazhipadu could well be skepticism. But this 2013 film that created a furore in the moral equilibrium of Malayalam cinegoers has much more in store, if you care to think a little.

Attukal Pongala, the single largest gathering of women devotees at a religious activity, forms the unlikely premise to tell a tale of sexual repression, misogyny and adultery in marriages. Vedivazhipadu, directed and written by Shambhu Purushothaman, is a refreshingly honest and audacious take on the male psyche, sexual and social double standards, and how men, after marriage, create a parallel amorous kingdom in their heads, relish bending rules and yet continue to be cowardly about addressing these matters with their spouses.

The film has multiple couples with their own little backstories. Rahul (Murali Gopy) is a video game tester, his wife Radhika (Anjana Haridas) is a traditional homemaker. Pradeep (Sreejith Ravi), an investor, is a misogynist who finds nothing in common with his sophisticated spouse, Vidya (Mythili), who teaches French. Sanjay (Saiju Kurup) is a bank cashier who is constantly derided by his successful TV journalist wife, Rashmi (Anushree).

During Pongala, when their wives are away, these three men decide to spend the day with a sex worker: that forms the crux of the story.

At Rahul’s apartment, as they free their inhibitions over drinks, food and porn, warming up for Sumitra’s (Anumol) arrival, we also witness a mirror to the double standards in our society. They are so-called law-abiding citizens who take their prescribed roles in families and workplace seriously, but in that ‘amoral’, discreetly free space, they are being their true selves – releasing their repressed sexual desires, frustrations and delusions in front of a sex worker.

Sanjay’s is the most pathetic volte-face – while the other two may seem more dignified, he is like a beast off his leash. Not only does he constantly boast of his sexual prowess, even a faint murmur of protest from her angers him. When she refuses to drink, he tries to shove it down her throat; when she tells him that he has to behave according to her terms and conditions in the bedroom, he is enraged and berates her hatefully. In truth, he is a weakling who is unable to address his insecurities which, in turn, makes him succumb to his wife’s bossiness.

Pradeep’s fantasy is more delusional – he covets his friend’s wife. When he asks Sumitra to wear Radhika’s salwar in bed, we are also staring at the prototype of an average chauvinist. Instead of accepting his beautiful, sophisticated wife, he would rather have a docile, traditional woman for a partner.

Rahul is in this purely to whet his machismo or so it seems. At least on the surface he looks happy and content, unlike his friends.

There is also Pradeep’s friend, Joseph (Indrajith), who is in a long-distance relationship with a foreigner and views relationships dispassionately.

The women are interesting. Rashmi is ambitious, principled and smartly puts her lecherous boss in his place. She does seem like the quintessential ‘bossy wife’, but then it’s also easy to see why she is that way. And it’s bewildering why she chose to stay with her husband.

Vidya has reconciled to her husband’s brash and sexist attitude, but she also lets herself go (almost!), like in that scene with her husband’s friend. Radhika, though, is the average Malayali housewife stereotype.

Dressed in cotton saris, Sumitra isn’t the caricature of a sex worker usually seen on screen. Her reaction to some of the most caustic comments from these men is restraint, yet she keeps them in their place. It doesn’t take her much time to figure out each man. She is by turns bewildered, amused, annoyed and angry at their unusual demands and behaviour. But she doesn’t have a backstory, we only see this image of her daughter sketching in school and a shopkeeper who tries to grope her.

Having said that, the maker modestly and safely doesn’t allow the women to step out of their prescribed line of control. Every time opportunities come knocking, we see them chastely evading it (or create a prop to stop it). It’s the men who can play to the galleries here and even get away with it.

Since the film has the label of a sex comedy, the scenes have been designed to evoke instant laughs. What are possibly grave issues are dealt with a touch of wit. Maybe that was the intent – to entertain and not dwell deeply on anything. But long after the laughs, some of the scenes start playing on your mind. But this time, without the laughs.

This article was originally published on Fullpicture.in. The News Minute has syndicated the content. You can read the original article here.

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