Freedom Fight movie review: Jeo Baby had won rave reviews for his searing take on patriarchy and the stifling of women’s rights within a domestic household in Great Indian cuisine. It was easily one of the best films of the last year in Indian cinema, and it elevated the filmmaker to someone whose future projects have serious moviegoers excited. That’s why I was very interested in freedom fightthe new anthology film streaming on SonyLIV, supported by Jeo Baby, and one of whose segments is directed by him. The review of Suraj Venjaramoodu’s social drama The Great Indian Kitchen: Nimisha Sajayan, now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, is awesome!
There are five segments in freedom fight, each directed by a different filmmaker. The first installment is Geetu unleashed, about an IT employee Geetu (Rajisha Vijayan) who deals with the repercussions of her broken engagement with her ex, both from her family and her colleagues. Directed by Akhil Anilkumar, the short film takes an original approach to storytelling by borrowing narrative styles from Forrest Gump (talking to strangers about his life story) and Flea bag style meta comment. A comedy sequence in a cafe reminded me of a similar scene in how I Met Your Mother, involving a very talkative girl. There is also a small thread borrowed from English vinglishwhich I did not find so well fleshed out.
The short does a good job of portraying Geetu’s mental suffocation while keeping the tone too heavy. The explosion sequence is quite commendable, as it challenges the obsessive need to define our lives according to other people’s expectations. This is also why I’m not a fan of how this segment ends, when Geetu decides to act on a proposal she receives from a co-worker. We’re unaware of the true feelings she really has for this person, and given that she ultimately refuses to relate to what others want from her, it doesn’t make sense for her to act on it. the proposal immediately after his “mass” scene.
Watch the trailer:
The second installment – Asangathidar (The Unorganised) – is written, edited and directed by Kunjila Mascillamani and inspired by the early 2000s women workers’ movement for basic rights at work by activist Viji Penkoottu. Asangathidar is what i felt was the most revealing shorts in the anthology, although there are a few drawbacks that hold them back from the greatness they could have achieved, although Asangathidar serves its purpose very well. The story revolves around the group of vendors, played by Srindaa (so, so good!) and co, working on the same street and their struggles to manage bathroom breaks. This plays well with the Kerala government’s recent move to ensure that shops have seats for sales staff, while reminding that the work to improve the lives of female workers is far, far from done.
It feels like a docudrama – a student activist sets out to make a documentary about women’s issues – with characters breaking the fourth wall to speak to the camera. Not only the women employed, the film also finds space to address the plight of transgender people seeking employment in the establishments. The docudrama approach has some jagged edges, and some of the actors, well, aren’t that good at acting. Corn Asangathidar gets his point hard and loud, while he has no qualms discussing hygiene issues. A conversation between Srindaa’s character and her husband about cleaning your private parts after doing business was both hilarious and worked as an exposition of expectant double standards of hygiene. The icing on the cake is the presence of Viji Penkoottu herself in the film. Overall the best short film ever freedom fight.
The third segment – titled Ration – is directed by Francies Louis. It’s about a not very well-to-do family, where the husband (played by director Jeo Baby) works in a ration store and the wife Suni (Kabani) is a housewife. Suni finds herself in a dilemma when she accidentally cooks the fish her wealthier neighbor had given her daughter to keep in her freezer.
I have an idea of what Ration wants to achieve, tackling class disparity and how the burden of resolving a family crisis falls on the hostess. Suni’s desperate attempts to replace the fish, unaided by her husband’s dismissive attitude, and the end result of those efforts provide a tragic insight into how what we see as usual could be an unaffordable luxury for others.
That said, I wasn’t quite sold on how the conflict was written into the story. How come Suni never understood that the seer-fish in the freezer was not theirs is never explained, since fish is a luxury for them. I guess she might have thought her husband bought it, but given that she’s not exactly afraid to voice her thoughts, why wouldn’t Suni ask her how he bought the fish. Also, I guess she didn’t want to break her equation with her richer neighbor, which is why she wasn’t honest with her. Even the presence of this short film in a film called freedom fight is a lot about assumptions, and I don’t really want to assume a lot. My fault. Bhoothakaalam movie review: Revathy and Shane Nigam star in this well-acted ‘horror’ flick that scares you with its realism.
The fourth short – Retirement home – is directed by the man himself, Jeo Baby. Starring Rohini and Joju George, the segment is about a housekeeper who comes to work at a house nestled in the misty greens, where her man transcends dementia caused by age. It’s the most heartbreaking of all the shorts, despite the slow pace, made even better by the performances of the actors involved. Especially Joju who strikes a chord with you as an elderly person losing the grip of his memory and rediscovering his childhood whims. Like with RationI’m not quite sure how this segment fits into “Freedom Fight”, though.
The Fifth Story – Jithin Issac Thomas’ Pra Thoo Mu – is the most impactful of the lot. Focusing on the plight of sewer workers, it’s about one such worker (Unni Lalu), soaked in shit, who confronts a minister (Siddharth Siva) in his home. Why the confrontation happened and what the consequences are is what the rest of the segment is about. Pra Thoo Mu, whose full form is only revealed at the end, has nauseating scenes that shouldn’t be watched while eating (I did…sigh!), but despite its content turning you stomach, the film has more interest in shocking you than telling a moving story. Jai Bhimit’s not that !
freedom fight may not have scaled the brilliance peaks of Great Indian cuisinebut it’s still a punch of a movie when it wants to be, exploring social topics we’re still uncomfortable discussing in mainstream cinema. freedom fight is streaming on SonyLIV.
(The story above first appeared on LatestLY on Feb 11, 2022 at 01:29 IST. For more news and updates on Politics, World, Sports, Entertainment and Lifestyle , log in to our website latestly.com).