Movie Review Uyare: Of spurned lovers, jilted men and acid attacks

Rating: 3.5/5                        
Language: Malayalam
Cast: Parvathy – Pallavi Raveendran

Asif Ali – Govind Balakrishnan

Tovino Thomas – Vishal Rajashekharan

Siddique – Raveendran (Pallavi's Father)

Anarkali Marikar – Sariya D Costa

Pratap K. Pothen – Air traffic controller

Prem Prakash – Govind's father

V.K.Baiju – Public prosecutor

Kay Kay Menon – Coach

Ajay Menon – Pilot

Director: Manu Ashokan

Producers: Shenuga, Shegna, Sherga

Screenplay: Bobby-Sanjay

Music: Gopi Sundar

Cinematography: Mukesh Muraleedharan

Editor: Mahesh Narayan

Distributor: Kalpaka films, Indywood Distribution Network(IDN)

Singapore Screening: Golden Village Cinemas and Carnival at Shaw Theatres

Uyare couldn’t have come out at a more appropriate time as Kerala witnesses an unprecedented surge of attacks not just in homes and on the streets but in schools and colleges as well! Pouring petrol and setting ablaze, stabbing and beheading of girls as young as 14 by spurned suitors, jilted lovers and stalkers has been sending shock waves across the state.

That a vast majority of public in Kerala have a finger on the pulse of current affairs is something we all know. TV shows have always been quick to take a stab at political or social issues that have made it to the news, through spoofs, comedies, and debates. Malayalam cinema, however, has hitherto stuck to stereotypical subjects with male superstars holding sway.  Is this then a renaissance, a coming of age for Mollywood? Not just in films but also within the Malayalam industry where Parvathy Thiruvoth Kottuvata, the lead actress in this film, has been a brave trendsetter in standing up against the once all-mighty superstars and their blinded, crazy fans.

Uyare is the story of Pallavi, who from the age of 14 has nurtured a desire to be a pilot. She is in love with Govind who provided her emotional support when she was bullied by schoolmates as a teen. He feeds off her in this parasitic relationship. She tries but fails to both live up to her ambition as well as to feed his need for total control over every aspect of her life. It goes to show, that even an intelligent, ambitious woman with an amazingly supportive and empathetic father can be trapped in a toxic relationship which snares her like a web.

Despite moving from Kerala to Mumbai to pursue her pilot training, Govind still holds sway over her through emotional blackmail and threats. Whether due to love or loyalty or perhaps as payback for what he once did for her, the otherwise strong character becomes a frail, submissive moth drawn to the flame when it comes to Govind. Her father delicately intervenes and even has a tactful word with Govind, but Pallavi still defends his possessiveness and justifies her love for him.

The line between ‘feeling secure’ is soon crossed to ‘feeling smothered’ and the vocal and confident girl soon feels entrapped. When she repeatedly rejects his calls, he sends her a picture of his bloodied slit wrist reducing her to putty again. She feels responsible and apologises profusely, taking all the blame on herself. That she musters courage to finally break off this toxic relationship that is consuming her whole life is in itself a wonder.

The insecure, vengeful rejected Govind throws acid on Pallavi’s face, deeply burning and scarring her. The physical injuries heal but the mental scars run deeper and stronger than the ones on her face, which one eventually grows to accept.

She fails the vision test post her accident and loses her license to be a pilot, a career dream she has nurtured throughout her growing years. Govind and his family still expect her to forgive him because if she legally pursues the court case it will ruin any chances of his having a career, the blame for which they lay solely at her feet in another attempt at emotional blackmail. The judge in the court even waits for Pallavi to respond to an offer by Govind’s lawyer that since she no longer can be a pilot and is scarred beyond repair, she should accept Govind’s offer and return to him as no other man will want to marry someone who looks like her. This incredulous and horrific offer sums up the ego of the man.

She meets other acid victims and survivors, comes to term with her scarred face, seeks justice, tries to rebuild her life and even finds a sort of love interest.  The too good to be true samaritan Vishal, played by the adorable Tovino Thomas, reminded me of his empathetic ‘sakha’ role in Aami where he is always there when his ‘sakhi’ Kamala Das needs him.

The rest of the movie moves into ‘masaladom’ where she even dramatically lands a plane in foul weather when the pilot collapses and the trained co-pilot becomes a mass of nerves unable to handle it on his own.

Uyare, though hard to believe, is the debut film for director Manu Ashokan. Produced by a trio of sisters – which in itself is a novelty- it has a strong script by Bobby and Sanjay to back it up. Each of the character is threshed out especially that of Parvathy, Asif Ali and Siddique who have done full justice to their roles. Asif Ali with his tears, doleful eyes and hangdog expression stays true to characters right from the first scene where he watches the audience as they watch his girlfriend dance. Parvathy who in real life stands up to misogyny and patriarchy is the best person to convey the many strong messages embedded in the film.  Her unflinching portrayal of both her weaknesses and strengths is sure to bring her lots of bouquets, which may still not make her forget all the brickbats that Mammootty fans have thrown at her.

I hope lots of girls and especially boys out there see and learn that it isn’t love if it doesn’t leave room for anything else. That violence is not the answer and there is no excuse for violence not even crazy, obsessive love.