‘Prathi Poovan Kozhi’ review: Manju gives devoted performance in a film that tells off harassers

Rosshan Andrrews manages to convey the seriousness of sexual harassment but the execution is less than satisfactory, with most scenes appearing staged.
‘Prathi Poovan Kozhi’ review: Manju gives devoted performance in a film that tells off harassers
‘Prathi Poovan Kozhi’ review: Manju gives devoted performance in a film that tells off harassers
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When the lights came on in the theatre for the intermission, someone commented that it appears Rosshan Andrrews has not realised that 10 years have passed and you don’t make movies like this anymore. It is Prathi Poovan Kozhi’s first day at the theatres. Director Rosshan has once again collaborated with Manju Warrier, the actor he brought back to cinema five years ago, after her long hiatus.

The movie with its obvious title – kozhi is Malayalam slang for sexual harassers – tries to address the very serious subject of harassment of women in public places such as buses and the attitude of most people that such acts should be ignored. While Rosshan manages to convey the seriousness of the topic through Unni R’s script, the execution is less than satisfactory, most scenes appearing staged, combined with some poor acting, characterisation, and trying-too-hard comedy.

Manju Warrier plays Madhuri, a saleswoman at a textile shop who lives in a traditional old house with a mother who appears to have been forced into the scene and who tries to look concerned about her troubled daughter but often fails. Mother and daughter do not appear close at all, Madhuri choosing to close the door on her mother’s questions.

The mother instead pushes Gopi, played by Alencier, who’s close to the family, to ask about her daughter’s problem. To show their bond, there is a song at the beginning of the film, Madhuri and Gopi on a cycle, a drunken singing Gopi and both of them dancing along the way. It looks like an amateur attempt to either add a mandatory song to the film, or else set the tone for a bold and capable Madhuri.

Perhaps the only consistent character is Madhuri’s, played devotedly by Manju. Madhuri has to settle scores with a man – a kozhi in a bus, who’s also a goon – played by Rosshan, making his acting debut. Rosshan is really good as the man you can easily despise, getting the ogler’s look, sly behaviour and lecherous expressions just right. Just to be sure you get that, Gopi Sundar produces a menacing tune every time Antappan (Rosshan) is on the screen. For Madhuri, Sundar gives a calming Veena riff.

To ensure comedy is not missed out, there’s Anusree’s character, who maintains half a dozen boyfriends at the same time. No, it’s not funny when she runs to attend one boyfriend after another or asks Madhuri’s help to break up with one. Why, Rosshan, who has given some carefully packed comedy in his earlier films, resorts to such lame attempts, one can’t imagine. Perhaps unintentionally though, Anusree’s character is written as a really good friend to Madhuri, accompanying her through all her trouble-inviting journeys.

It is not clear if Saiju Kurup’s policeman character too is meant for comedy, but there are indications of it in the way the actor’s very expressive face is used. Another half-boiled character is Sheeba, played by Grace Antony, who appears at crucial places and says what sounds like important lines. All the actors are carefully chosen, having proved their talent in recent movies, but then there isn’t much they need to deliver here.

Through all the flaws, however, the focus of the main character, and therefore the film, is not lost. Any form of sexual harassment – be it groping in a public bus or brushing against someone intentionally – should not be taken lightly. The ‘that happens to everyone, don’t take it so seriously’ comments should stop.

Rosshan and his team do deserve a pat for delivering this message clearly. Only if they had the backing of some good writing, the film would have reached out a lot more.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.

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