Friday, November 6, 2015

Malayalam Movie Review: Rani Padmini asks serious questions but fails to deliver a meaningful impact

I like movies that show strong women. 

I had great expectations from Aashiq Abu's latest Malayalam movie - Rani Padmini. 

The two heroines Manju Warrier and Rima Kallingal demonstrate commendable chemistry despite a poorly paced script and badly written screenplay. 

While Jinu Joseph is impressive as the racer, there is no chemistry with Manju Warrier. The vibes are sangfroid between the two actors. 

The first half of the movie puts you on edge. You keep waiting for a spectacular story but the second half is where the story "begins."  The pace of the film is inconsistent. The 'Ant" story and also the 'paragliding' scenes were stretched to too slow. Then suddenly, the narrative becomes too pacy.

Malayalam Movie Review: Rani Padmini Story
The story goes like this: Padmini (starring Manju Warrier) is a Malayali girl married to a Delhi based racing car driver, whose name is Giri (starring Jinu Joseph). The couple love each other but Padmini is like a caged bird under the watchful eye of a dominating mother-in-law, who makes it clear that "This marriage is more for me than my son so that I have some company."

The movie begins with Padmini about to run away from her home and she begins her dialogue, saying, "My husband has left me to go to the Himalayas." 


                                       [Image: Mollywood Times]

Matters reach a boiling point when her mother-in-law asks her to sign a mutual divorce petition. Her husband has not said a word to her but he signs the petition and leaves to participate in the Himalayan race. 

I love that scene where Padmini calls from Delhi and tells her jealous best friend that her husband signed the divorce papers. Her best friend's reply is catty and funny, "Don't worry. There is divorce happening everywhere. Divorce is trending. It's cool!"

A determined Padmini runs away from her marital home, carrying a bag that also has her gold jewelery that she received from her parents at the time of her marriage. Her journey is to the venue of the Himalayan Car Rally, where her husband is one of the most anticipated participants. 

In the bus, she goes through the typical experience that most Malayali women have experienced at least once in a life time. That's right, a creepy guy pinches her while she falls asleep. Not once but thrice! 

That's when Rani (starring Rima Kallingal) makes her entry - a fiery tomboy like woman sitting next to Padmini. Rani gives that man "the experience" of a lifetime! I can't tell you how much I cheered for Rani at that moment. 

Amidst some poorly delivered dialogues and stale jokes, Padmini and Rani begin to care for each other and fall into an easy comfort zone that usually happens with women who spend time together.  They evoke the curiosity of others. Once when asked, Rani says, "We are lesbians and this is our honeymoon." The dialogue delivery by Rima Kallingal had humor and a spark of cheeky boldness.

We also have a "Don and Gang" who start off as a terror in Rani's life and follow her all the way up the Himalayas.

Malayalam Movie Review: Rani Padmini raises serious questions, answers none

There is a poignant scene where Rani tells Padmini's husband, "You don't deserve her." Symbolic words?

Director Aashiq Abu also raises questions such as:

1. Why are marriages arranged the way they are in conservative Kerala?
2. What is the role of a wife? To sleep, to obey and serve till she dies? 
3. Why do husbands not make an attempt to understand their wives?
4. What holds a woman back from exploring a world beyond her husband?

Aashisq Abu leaves us wondering why these questions were raised and for whom because there are no answers in the movie. The good, responsible wife goes back home to have a baby with the same man who had easily signed the divorce papers.


Aashiq Abu's 'Rani Padmini' is a movie to simply sit back and enjoy in the theaters. A 'good wife' has to pursue her husband to bring him back home even if it is from the Himalayas, then they have a baby, end of story.

Don't think too hard about a wife having to pursue her husband who abandons her without giving any reasons.  

After all, real life doesn't always give you answers. It's up to you to find them. 

1 comment:

Kanmani Gobal said...

A few things stirred up my curiosity.
When Padmini told her husband that she'll give "it" to him when he comes home, did she mean the "signed divorce papers"? If yes, why did he look so happy?
So maybe the reason he looked happy was because the fact that she said "come home" means there is no divorce, and it is clear he has some feelings for her at least.

However, the finishing scene with her baby took place 2 years later. In that time, it is safe to say her marriage was "active" seeing that she conceived. What if, at the time, she had actually separated from her husband? We did not see Giri after the rally scenes. Could this be a possibility?

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