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The cast of the Great Indian Kitchen: Nimisha Sajayan, Suraj Venjaramoodu
The director of the Great Indian Kitchen: Jeo baby
The Great Indian Kitchen Movie Review: Four stars
It is widely believed that the quickest route to a man’s heart is through his stomach. And director Jeo Baby explores the downside of this wisdom in his latest film, The Great Indian Kitchen. Looking at the title, one might think that this film puts a magnifying glass on the delicious traditional dishes of Kerala cooked in a home kitchen. And sure, the film will increase your food cravings by showing kappa (tapioca) biriyani, naadan fish curry, fish fried in coconut oil, homemade banana chips, puttu and kadala curry, and masala black tea. This film, however, is not about how cooking is an art that should be soaked in love, deep-fried with passion, and garnished with great care. The emphasis is on the arduous task women perform in households every day so that men can enjoy Kerala’s famous delicacies.
Do you remember how we argue that a mother’s food tastes better because it contains her undivided love? In a way, The Great Indian Kitchen calls the bluff on it. Have you ever thought about what happens when you leave the dining table after licking the plate clean and calling the food Adipoli (excellent)? If the answer is clear, no, then this movie will provide a lot of nourishment for your thoughts.
The film begins with a traditional thick wedding in Kerala. Two strangers are forced into a long-term relationship through the institution of marriage. While the man’s life and everyday rituals go on without a slight change, it is a different story for the new bride. Your life is completely uprooted. With marriage she will be born again and that means that she will have to cut the umbilical cord with her old life. She can dance well and wants to pursue it professionally. But can she? No, she can no longer cherish this dream because she cannot afford to think and act in “self-interest” after the marriage. Now she has a bigger purpose in life. And that’s supposed to take care of every need of two adult adults.
Jeo Baby didn’t name the characters in the film, including the newlywed bride (played by Nimisha Sajayan) and her husband (played by Suraj Venjaramoodu). The events that play out in the film are ambiguous. The film talks about the culture of oppression and its traditional means, perfected over generations, to subjugate women to men. The domestic slavery to which Nimisha Sajayan’s character is exposed is a widespread phenomenon in the majority of Indian households. On odd days, she feels inferior and inviolable because she is menstruating. She is treated with passive contempt on even days, including but not limited to threats of violence and just conviction.
The woman is so overwhelmed by the housework that she must never open herself to the wishes. Nor is she allowed to think or have an opinion. In a way, the men in her family want to kill their minds so that she doesn’t long for freedom or equality. Some women actually enable this oppression without asking questions. They perform their female duties day in and day out with the discipline of a soldier, unaware of the fact that they are also victims of the same oppression.
Jeo Baby was apologetically slow at the pace of the narration. And he does it with the intention of enabling men to finally witness what is happening in the great Indian kitchens, in which women, generation after generation, beat up and slaves their lives in the service of legitimate men. Each scene feels long because it is full of stories. Narrative thrusts are far and wide in between. Finally, in The Great Indian Kitchen, we see step by step how a woman is deprived of her basic human rights.
The Great Indian Kitchen is streamed on Neestream.