By Neeraj Nanda
MELBOURNE, 10 April 2021: If one delves into one’s own life, many episodes are stories to be told. Only, we want to be silent because of our own complacency. Indian domestic life in a joint family under one roof has been the saga in many movies. We even had the ‘Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ serial which gripped the nation. Bahu’ (daughter-in-law), Sasu Ji (mother-in-law), Sasur (father-in-law), husband’s sister, etc. are major players in a joint family. Things are not different in North and South India. Only, the language and culture are different. So, this sets the tone for ‘The Great Indian Kitchen’ in Malayalam (with English subtitles) now streaming on Amazon Prime Video (100 minutes).
An arranged marriage takes place in Kerala and the ‘bahu’ comes to the hubby’s home (joint family). As usual, the first night starts. The husband asks her, “Are you afraid of darkness” (subtitle). The teacher husband’s educated wife’s new life kicks off from the second day morning in the kitchen. The monther-in-law helps and the daily routine journey of cooking food, tea for the father-in-law, cleaning the utensils, a choked drain in the kitchen sink, serving the food, cleaning the table with leftovers, and so on.
The night is to make the husband happy and daytime is consumed in the kitchen. There are bits of gaps where she can talk to a friend or her mother (thanks to the mobile phone). The Great Indian Kitchen is in action. The lady’s kitchen work laced with the endless tantrums of the family (including the husband), discrimination during periods upset her. She applies for a job despite the hubby being unhappy about it. Sharp pangs of being humiliated as a human begun to shoot.
The movie step by step portrays the systematic violation of a woman as a human. There is no physical violence but gender rules for a woman are in action. Domestic drudgery becomes a norm. Relief is remote but possible. This is the 21st century. The woman is in India’s most literate state. Does this really matter? This is the question that arises. The plot of this film could be superimposed in any Indian state. There are leaders who continue to push for – ‘the place of a woman is the home’. Home dear home. Call it drudgery or slavery. The end is dramatic (better to see it). If you feel guilty seeing this stuff (that’s possible), the movie is a success.
Excellent movie from Director-Writer Joe Baby. A slap on the face of ‘sanskaris’. As the newlywed’s Nimisha Sajayan (woman) and Suraj Venjaramood’s (husband) give a powerful performance. The movie was shot in Kozhikkode (Kerala) mostly within a house.
I give it 4 and a half stars out of 5.