The first screening of Uyare for the Malayali diaspora in the capital city saw a mammoth turnout of young women, the men crushed by their numbers. The lead actor of the film, Parvathy Thiruvothu, would have been happier to see more of the menfolk come in to see the film.
A leading voice in the real world of the Malayalam film industry, Parvathy has been stridently vocal with all her might against the prevailing antiquated attitudes and norms prevailing in the ecosystem that she works in, yearning to make it more women friendly and gender inclusive thereby throwing a spanner in the works of a whole array of men at work still busy deifying male centred values tied to systems enabling narrow palaeolithic mindsets.
In doing so the actor has stirred, shaken and slapped the all-pervading male gaze and emboldened many of her co-artistes to spearhead the realisation of this basic right.
This stand has invariably resulted in Parvathy and those aligned with her point of view being spitefully abused on various social media platforms with all forms of threats mostly by insecure, frail men, brothers in arms with the character of Govind (Asif Ali) in Uyare.
Uyare tells the story of Pallavi (Parvathy), a middle class girl with a fiery aspiration to be a pilot. However she has to fight the vice like grip of a possessive boyfriend, Govind (Asif Ali), who is burdened by his own failures. When Govind sees the stone wall he comes up against with Pallavi’s resoluteness to do what she wants, he attacks her with acid. How she fights back and navigates her path to fulfil her ambition forms the film’s storyline.
Parvathy’s latest foray Uyare is all about the unfathomable spirit, the gutsy conviction that is hidden within and then rises at the opportune time like a phoenix to overcome opponents and circumstances and then lets her soar. In one of their most accomplished works till date, the writer duo of Bobby and Sanjay deliver the journey of Pallavi blazing across the skies in premier class. Produced by a sisterhood ‘she-gang’ of Sherga, Shenuga and Shegna and piloted by debutant director Manu Ashokan, Uyare is indeed a compulsive and worthy watch.
Would Uyare have had the same impact if the character of Pallavi Raveendran had been essayed by anyone else other than Parvathy? Maybe. But the sheer earthiness of Parvathy’s performance and the steely determination in her eyes is so unique and at the same time so everyday that we condemn ourselves to a few sessions of self-flagellation for the very thought.
Credit is due to Asif Ali too, not for essaying Govind with such unsettling ease but for giving the nod to play him in the first place, unquestionably one of the bravest decisions by the young actor in his film career.
There are several poignant moments in Uyare where Pallavi’s father played by the seasoned Siddique that holds the viewer, never straining hard to draw them into their life changing emotional quagmire. Siddique is pitch perfect, the shoulder to cry on, the one to hug when his daughter doesn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, as also the father who ambushes her assailant and rains blow after blow on him, while we mortals are left wondering why didn’t he just use a gun or slice a knife through the loser, given that Govind is such a nincompoop that he can’t take a splash of cool pristine water on his face.
There is Saria, played with such rare dignity by Anarkali Marikar that you want to shout out loud for friends like her. An endearing Vishal (Tovino Thomas) opens the door for Pallavi later in the story, a male rescue act for sure, but that’s forgiven, given that he doesn’t propose to her. He however does take a knock from his muse, quite sportingly though, when she nudge-teasingly reminds him about being the privileged male heir to the sprawling family business.
However, Uyare is not a flight without a few air pockets and bumps. It digresses with a couple of in-flight scenarios and the earnest ATC room chatter could have been a bit more toned down as it tries to mimic Hollywood.
But in the end, when our shero manoeuvres the giant two-winged alpha-male like Boeing 737, belting him down, banging its rotund underbelly onto the asphalt, you are elated and rise to applaud her grit. I would have loved to see a Ray Ban aviator sporting Pallavi in slow-motion post that scene, but our paper plane heroes have made those so passé that it’s just not for her.
The duration of over two hours tends to stretch and the final flourish is a tad too long. Forget these and you have one of the finest artistes in the Malayalam film industry in auto pilot mode from where she took off a couple of years back in strife torn Tikrit (Take Off, 2017) maintaining steady glorious heights. As she peers down below, Parvathy sees a sad, traumatised glob of trolls rushing in and then wobbling away to obliterate themselves hurtling down a cliff overlooking a calm and oh-so-blue Arabian Sea.
(The writer is a social development consultant and loves to write on art, culture and films, based in New Delhi.)