A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, an estranged writer starts watching her favourite movies from the ’90s. It’s a period where new-gen movies have begun to destroy the moral fabric of society. The people have become selective (and not collective) of movies to watch. The big Ms have fallen, Gobi is found only in Pondicherry and vegetarian buffet, J.Ram is trying to be cool. Pursued by sinister long-haired intellectuals, the writer studies ’90s movies aboard her starship, Silma Reviews, in an attempt to make Malayalam cinema great again!
The movie begins at sunrise with an orchestral BGM. We are at the hero’s tharavaadu where a kasavu saree-clad mother is making breakfast, happy and content in the kitchen.
Enter teenage sister, who is getting ready to go for typewriting class in her half-saree. She tries to take a dosa or two, but mother flicks on her head and asks her to call her brother Unni to eat.
Meet Unni – he is nothing but macho. He sports a moustache, he wears a mundu, he can smear kumkum on his forehead, he is adored by everyone.
Unni screams at the sister for his ironed clothes. When the sister joyfully brings it to him, he wonders where his underwear is. Mother brings it to him happily and tells him she has washed it well, and he must wear it and not throw it away. They all share the happiness of this family moment.
Audience cue: Beam with happiness
As Unni begins to eat the hot dosas, his friend barges in. His friend, though he has his own home, tends to eat only at the hero’s place. He enters with a poor joke, replies to everyone with a poor joke, and keeps telling the poor jokes until the hero asks him to shut up.
Audience cue: LOL
Just as the audience begins to think that the hero and his friend are jobless, the camera moves to a gang of local sanskari uncles, squatting under a Banyan tree in the centre of a town, who look at the duo and tell each other: “Unni Thamburan, son of Prabhakara Varma Thamburan, is so talented. He sings, dances and writes so well that even his fart is like Beethoven’s symphony. He had first rank in IIT Madras and was offered a job at NASA. But he came back to the village because of his love for our land.” The group nods in praise and appreciation for Unni’s selflessness. No one talks about the lame friend, because his only job in the movie is to make poor jokes.
Audience cue: Proud
Unni and the friend are merrily bathing in the nearby river, flaunting their 34D moobs.
They discuss one of the biggest problems they face – girls. The friend lets the audience know that Unni ain’t getting any action, though he is the most eligible bachelor in town. Unni, who is also a deep shit philosopher, reminisces the time he spent reciting Neruda’s poetry in the lap of Claude, the French woman he met in one of his past sexcapades. But, he admits, he is still in love with his childhood friend, Kalyani Menon. Friend teases him and Unni pinches his nipples. To show how close these buddies are, they joyfully spank each other as well.
Audience cue: Laugh
Jump cut to the heroine’s entry, a song. She is seen coming back from somewhere because she is carrying a suitcase. She is wearing jeans and a T-shirt, and sunglasses cover her face. But since this is a movie, she is also completely made-up, her hair perfectly tied up, even her lipstick has not faded. Obviously, the heroine is fair AF. Kalyani is grinning like she is high on pot, plays cricket with street kids while dancing and pats the old men perching on road sides.
Kalyani is an Oxford graduate, but she takes up the job of teaching children in the nearby LP school. Before the audience begins to search for the logic behind this decision, the headmaster asks her why she has chosen to teach in this village. Kalyani gives a short speech on her commitment to develop her home town. Such charity, much wow!
Audience Cue: Whatever
As she is teaching English to the children, the hero has come to the school because he is part of the management. Kalyani teaches the children, “Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are, up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky.” Unni overhears this and corrects Kalyani, uninvited. He tells her it’s “we” and not “I”, embarking on a lecture on the importance of community feel required in the Indian society and whatnot.
An offended Kalyani defends herself saying there are different versions of the same rhyme, but Unni steals the show by mentioning how her make-up is a pretension just as her degree is, slipping in a vulgar statement about the movement of her breasts in heavily accented English to mock her. An enraged Kalyani tries to slap him, but Unni tells her she has to remember she is only a woman who should not raise her hand on a man!
Audience cue: How dare she!
Kalyani reports this sexual harassment to the headmaster who calmly tells her, “We all are part of this establishment. Don’t see him as a man, but a well-educated human advising another human.”
Audience cue: Obviously
Kalyani goes home and vents her anger to her feminist aunt. Feminist aunt is divorced, has a sense of fashion and wears sunglasses.
They both confront Unni, and aunt questions him. Unni’s friend intervenes, tells her how these “feminichis” are sexually deprived and ruin the lives of other women, obviously jealous that Kalyani gets the attention of the most-eligible bachelor in town who is an all-rounder. But aunt fiercely fights back calling out Unni’s entitled attitude to women. Friend immediately slaps her saying she deserves it.
Audience cue: Clap, cheer, exhilaration
Kalyani gets all seduced and wet (in a rain sequence, ob) at how talented Unni is and that Unni has a PhD on Linguistics too; she regrets her previous action. The next day, she appears in front of Unni in a saree, wearing nude makeup, coyly eyeing at him for apology. Unni is impressed that he has tamed Kalyani, and tells her, “You have now become my old childhood friend, Kalyani.”
Audience cue: Louves
Love song. Both Unni and Kalyani dance to a slow melody atop a hill, in a river, in a jungle. They do all romantic positions, but will not kiss, because culture!
Audience cue: Such cultured lovers for a family movie. Our child isn’t born of sex either
Since they have declared their love for each other, the next step is, of course, marriage. But Kalyani’s rich family doesn’t approve of Unni as he doesn’t have enough tradition. Kalyani is banned from seeing Unni. Although she is Western educated, Kalyani succumbs to the patriarchal force readily.
Audience cue: Well of course, but tension
Separation of love birds leads to another song where they fondly remember their childhood games and, later, the adult games of passionate love (but without making out).
Unni, to prove Kalyani’s fam wrong, takes up the challenge to run the year’s temple festival. The girl’s uncles try to stop him, but he succeeds in running it with the help of friend and sanskari uncles. The girl’s father is so impressed, he lets Unni have Kalyani.
Audience cue: Yaayyy!!
The friend cracks a poor joke, everyone laughs together – even Kalyani’s family members and aunt.
Audience cue: Such an entertaining family movie with morals
Note: This is a 90s cinema masterplan that is as secular as it can get. For example, Unni Thamburan can easily become Sunny John Kurishinkal, kasavu saree mother can wear chatta and mundu, and make appam and egg curry instead of dosa, sister can go to a church instead of typewriting class, temple festival can become perunnal. Heroine’s daddy can take pride in being 916th descendant of Christians converted by Thomas, the Apostle.
The only limitation is that it’s quite difficult to make the hero a Muslim. Now, if it’s absolutely necessary, maybe one can make the hero’s mother’s caste Brahmin or Nair.
Mother: Kaviyoor Ponnamma/Renuka or Philomina
Sister: Any serial artist, doesn’t matter
Kalyani: Anyone who is fair complexioned. Doesn’t matter who. After all “the world is a circus and actresses are monkeys”
Friend: Jagadeesh/Jagathi/Hari Sree Ashokan
Kalyani’s dad: Janardanan/Narendra Prasad/Rajan P Dev
Feminist aunt: Sukumari/Ponnamma Babu
Kalyani’s uncles: Bheeman Raghu/Kundara Johny
Sanskari uncles: Random old men led by Sankaradi
This article was first published on silma.reviews. Republished with permission.