That a woman's need comes secondary in all relationships in our society is an undeniable fact. When her rights are also nipped in the bud, she turns into a numb, witless mass dragged along the trail of so-called fate, unable to rise and resist no matter how sensible and efficient she is.
Biriyaani, the realistic movie directed by Sajin Babu, which bagged a Special Mention in the Best Feature Film category at the 67th National Film Awards, tells the story of Khadeeja, who has to wade through the murky waters filled with all sorts of vices.
Khadeeja, played by Kani Kusruti, who won the Best Actor (Female) award in the Kerala State Awards, shows a bit of courage in expressing her individuality and character. Though her husband Nazeer, played by Jayachandran, doesn't suppress Khadeeja outright, he blatantly lets her plunge into misery.
Jayachandran is not venomous but he has to pose roughish, yielding to his mother's distaste for her daughter-in-law.
Khadeeja's misfortune begins when her brother Shanavas goes missing and a suspicion of a terror link looms over.
Expelled by the Jama-at, Khadeeja and her mother Suharabeevi are in for testing times.
Her journey along with her insane mother Suharabeevi takes her places no one would ever love to be. Now Khadeeja follows other limited means to retaliate.
Aided by TV channel discussions, the mistaken notion of culture or rather the cultural difference, the plight of unprivileged and uneducated women, the branding of a particular community incited by paranoia are depicted parallelly in the plot.
Coinage of terms for intercommunity relationships involving a particular religion, designating it as a threat to social fabric and callous nature of the guardians of law and order are also perfectly portrayed.
Meanwhile, the plot also provides insights on how poverty, misery and backwardness are never considered when the efforts to nail anti-nationalist elements are trigerred.
The director dextrously explores the minute nuances of human sensitivities, especially in the backdrop of a complex social milieu, in telling a poignant tale loaded with social relevance.
He has blended the aesthetics of sound, story and camera and complemented it with a sustained strain of music.
Khadeeja's suppressed potential, pain, passion, helplessness and emotions are all immaculately registered and seeps deep into the senses.
Kani Kusruti makes sure you don't see Khadeeja's frown or clenching jaw but only feel them.
She perfects each of those minute emotions and makes them all real. Similarly, J Shylaja, who plays Kadheeja's Suharabeevi, has done a superb job balancing the sense and insanity of a mentally ill.
You also end up wondering about the story owned by each of those vagabond mendicants you see on the streets. Surjith Gopinath, who played the character of Muhammed Bijli in the film, comes up with a gem of a performance.
The gruesomeness exhibited at times is the stark reality you always forced yourself to turned away from. You cannot blame anyone. These are truths, that always existed.
Music by Leo Tom is magical and so is the live sound by B R Aravind, which is seamlessly blended by Vinod P Shivram.
Karthik Muthukumar's camera makes no mistake in absorbing the exact moods and movements of the narrative.