Review Malayalam

Woman With A Movie Camera review: Befitting feminist reply to capitalist movie-making practices

Release Date: 10 Dec 2021 / 01hr 44min


Cinestaan Rating

  • Direction:
  • Story:

Vidyasree Bindu

Atal Krishnan’s debut film is a must-watch, a catalyst for intense conversations and much-needed confessions.

In these times, when movies become a race towards the Rs100 crore and Rs200 crore clubs, can a good movie be made with a minimum budget? Those who have watched and experienced first-time filmmaker Atal Krishnan’s Woman With A Movie Camera will surely say ‘Yes’.

To summarize in a line, the local is the international and this international cost just five thousand bucks! But let us not slip into the fallacy of considering the low budget as the only unique quality of the film. This movie is a must-watch for many reasons.

When watched closely, Woman With A Movie Camera has the basic pyramid structure of exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement. Starting with seemingly simple things, the film unravels various disturbing aspects in the characters’ lives.

An assignment is due for submission by Mahitha, a student of visual communication. She plans to document a day in the life of her friend, Athira Santhosh. Like any other normal day in the life of a college-going girl, the documentation begins with mundane tasks like brushing, bathing, etc.

The moment the camerawoman and the subject leave the latter’s room and reach the kitchen in her house, things become slightly more serious. In this manner, the movie progresses gradually towards more serious issues. Issues like period cramps, online predators who send unsolicited porn clips in messaging apps, relationship tribulations, gender bias when it comes to household chores as well as education and child abuse are all covered beautifully and effectively in the movie; not in a preachy way but subtly yet emphatically. The movie ends up offering a cathartic experience to the viewer.

As minimal as the budget is the skeletal crew of the movie which belongs to the genre of cinéma vérité. The cast and crew of Woman With A Movie Camera are the same with the artistes playing themselves. The movie is heavily autobiographical with the characters/artistes narrating their own experiences. The camera is handled by Mahitha in such a way that it sticks to the cinematography technique of cinéma vérité. Athira Santhosh, who is the film's lead, additional cinematographer as well as co-writer with the director, has done a fabulous job on all fronts. The script that has well-placed humour in it deserves special mention as it is organic and relatable to any teen/youth of our times.

Athira Santhosh’s own parents play her on-screen parents and they, too, have done a very convincing portrayal, especially her mother Sreekala Santhosh. The performances of Manikarnika Santhosh (who has also done additional cinematography) and Athira Joseph (who is also one of the associate directors) deepen the cathartic effect of the movie. Jicky Paul, who plays the protagonist’s cousin, has done a spectacular job with his voice and elicits contempt from any girl/woman who can identify with Athira. He is always facing away from the camera. By thus veiling his face and giving him a voice, he becomes a representative of all abusers irrespective of age, race and class.

This movie is a must-watch for everyone. Watching it with family can be even more cathartic. This movie could be the perfect example of how a thoughtfully crafted low-budget movie becomes a catalyst for intense and much-needed conversations and confessions within a family in particular and society in general.

We are far from the era of ‘what’s in a name’. There is a lot in this movie’s name. Woman With A Movie Camera beautifully claims the space of celluloid and this title metaphorically and literally shows the paradigm shift from the idea and the title Man With A Movie Camera. Malayalam cinema looks promising with directors like Atal Krishnan coming to the field, directors who dare to experiment with form and craft.

Woman With A Movie Camera was screened at the 26th International Film Festival of Kerala held from 18–25 March 2022.

 

Related topics

IFFK

You might also like