Santhoshathinte Onnaam Rahasyam



So here is the blatant truth – For me, the best part of the movie was when Maria swears “Myru nadakkum”. And for a change, I saw a man who doesn’t retort with another cuss word and even swallows down what is thrown on his face as her venting out pent-up frustration. And then one realises that in his own way Don Palathra just tried normalising women using swear words. That moment when I felt that maybe swear words could someday cease to be a ‘monopoly of men’, I realised even in an insignificant thing like that, there is a hidden gender bias that we all carry along unconsciously.

Here are few things that I felt sat well with the movie :

Society
As the intense conversation between the couple unfolds before us, there is this 3rd character who enters abruptly and gives her 2 cents about the relationship of two people she barely knows. I totally liked the fact that she symbolises society in general, which has no rhyme or reason for dropping opinion bombs on other people’s lives, and how she represents the prejudiced attitude of society towards matters that shouldn’t really concern them – today’s women being ‘lethargic’, women earning more than men, sex before marriage etc.

And she touches upon the one point that we have heard time and again – “Why women want to do things that men do, rather than about things that ‘only’ women can do.” (Well, if you are talking about multiple orgasms then okay. 😉).

Man-Woman dynamics
Something we often see in relationships is, how women always expect their men to go an extra mile (like how Maria wants him to get a snack with her tea or rub her back when she is nauseated than being engrossed in the phone). Instead, Jithu is sometimes like a robot who does what he is asked, and not an inch more. I do understand his frustration too, when she keeps snapping back angrily instead of appreciating the small things, he does for her. But there is a jarring misalignment of expectations probably because Indian men – carefully catered to by their devoted mothers till their adulthood – have no clue that a woman can also expect to be taken care of by a man with a little extra love and consideration.

One other thing rightly brought in is how most men trivialise a woman’s struggles as something what half the world population suffers through anyway. What men do not realise is that, it is not that she is unaware of it, it is just that she expects this person whom she calls as her other half to address it and give it attention. What a woman wants in a relationship is often just to be heard, to be seen. To have this person standing across her to say, “I see you”.

Grey
Though the movie touches upon many gender-bias and feministic issues, the woman character is not glorified, nor the male character is shown as a product of patriarchal privilege. Initially, there is this clear apathy that Jithu displays but later, we realise that an exasperated Maria too plays into this situation by being clearly nagging and condescending. Both the characters are realistically shown as flawed, having their own insecurities and baggages from the relationship. And the greyness in their characters is so well represented by the coloring and the shade of the 84-minute long single shot.

Performances
I’m sure it was a Herculean task for both of them to act, be the character every minute of the movie, with not even a breathing space while the camera cuts to another actor. I was told that they rehearsed the entire lines like in a play around 20 times before setting out to shoot. And the perfect ‘single shot’ only accentuates the brilliance of the director, and actors – both their faces juxtaposed next to the other reflecting back to us every second of the movie, the contrast in their emotions, feelings and how they respond when embroiled in a challenging predicament.

And the moment Maria says she has got her period, I too literally had the same expressions flicker through my face – from disbelief to relief – making me realise how brilliantly Rima as an actress took us through Maria’s journey.

Rounding back to where I began, there is this inside joke I share with my best friend. It is more like our thing, than a joke per se – When we have our hours-long conversations, frustrated about something or with someone, we end the talk with the M word: “Myru! Pokaan para”. And trust me it can be satisfying as hell! Probably why men do it all the time too!
 

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