Thursday, 4 September 2008

Latest on the Silver Screen: "Veruthey Oru Bharya"



Jayaram plays an egotistical, chauvinistic and insecure husband to Gopika who is the ever-dutiful, over-worked, under-appreciated traditional wife, for 14 years. Their daughter, is on the brink of discovering teenage romance and adventure. She plays a bigger role in the second half of the movie. The story refreshingly revolves around the mid-aged couple and their marital challenges...well, actually, more of Gopika's daily agony of keeping her marriage going despite her husband's insatiable demands, ego and insensitivity. Gopika is at the end of her tether when Jayaram's behaviour demonstrates that he does not respect her and that she is not even a close second in her husband's list of priorities. She returns to the warmth of her birth home, with Innacent playing her loving father. Their teen daughter is caught in between the couple's battle with each other, as the story unfolds...

My View:

Fabulous Theme, Great Start

The movie held a lot of promise with the characters carefully chiseled out and the opening scenes providing clues as to what could lie ahead, i.e. fall-out between husband and wife, the child being torn between her parents and an objective view of the real issues behind the unhappiness of the couple being Jayaram's attitude. However, the movie only adequately follows through with the first two clues ; i.e. that Jayaram's insecurity-motivated behaviours and that Gopika's reasons for retaliation are told well, ...up until Gopika goes home. There is even a character introduced in political support of oppressed women and one scene shows Jayaram feeling intimidated by what the character represents.

Gopika and the Movie's Theme Take a Hike!

Thereafter, I felt that Gopika's role in the movie seemed to fade out, with Jayaram's role taking the lead. Instead of continuing along the tone of the movie's message and depicting the issues on both sides, the story-line took an unplanned deviation; What started out by presenting the woes of the oppressed, over-woked, traditional house wife became a focus on how Jayaram struggled on his own to manage home and child, while Gopika who was represented earlier as a conscientious mom and wife, instantaneously (and unconvincingly) was made to appear non-chalant by the separation. If there was an intention to balance a portrayal of the insecure husband's reaction to the separation, with that the dutiful wife's, it certainly wasn't clear; In contrast to a lengthy portrayal of Jayaram's decline in mental health as a result of the stresses of separation, there was almost no portrayal of these stresses on Gopika. It made Gopika seem like a weakly developed character, especially when she showed up during the last 1/2 hour of the movie, and was made to apprear regretful for having so irresponsibly left Jayram to manage the home on his own - driving him to insanity! As mentioned, this vein would have been fine if the entire movie did not present itself in the beginning, to seem like it was intending to portray the plights of a wife taken for granted.

Murder Times Two

To make matters worse, there was a warped interpretation by the doctor-turned-counsellor at the very end of the movie, who could have been the story's final saviour had his role been given a little more thought! He could have presented the fact that Gopika's move away was the culminating result of her husband's relentless egotistical approach towards her for 14 years. It would have brought everything back on track and saved the movie! Instead, the counsellor further broke the tone of the message; Though the counsellor said Jayaram's ego was partly to blame, he was quick to point out that Gopika should have understood that her hubby's insecurities were spawned by a search for motherly attention. He then dismissed Gopika's issues, leaving her to look like the wife who had not tried hard enough.

My Score: 5/10

In a nutshell, Jayaram and Gopika make an excellent on-screen pair and little-miss-new-actress (teen daughter) was also a treat to watch in the latter half of the movie. Innacent, though not his usual comedic self, played his role effortlessly as expected, and provided relief from the intense emotions of the scenes on Jayaram's insanity, and from the mind-boggling theme deviations. Overall, it's a 5 out of 10; I'd recommend it if you were a Gopika-Jayaram fan, had nothing better to do on a weekend and are the type who does not mind watching a "nearly there, but not" story.

Perhaps the title "Veruthey Oru Chalachitram" would have been more appropriate.

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