Veruthe Oru Bharya is one of those brilliant mainstream crowd pleasers that grabs you from the first frame to the last. It’s a lively, smartly directed, hard-hitting endeavor that recounts its message-in-a-bottle in a different, although barely unique manner.
It all starts off at 5 in the morning, as on any other day, with Bindu (Gopika) striving to gain hold of her life’s reigns that are steadfastly held by her husband Sugunan (Jayaram), since their marriage almost a decade back. Caught in a wedlock that had long lost any purpose, Bindu tries in vain to infuse some sense into an unsympathetic partner. Pestered by his boundless stipulations and fretfully concerned with a daughter (Niveda) trying to come to grips with adolescence and its upheavals, Bindu finally decides to giver herself a much-needed break from the drudgery of housework and child care.
The film looks more like a celebration of marriage, honoring it in all possible ways. There are the newly weds basking in its ecstasy, and the older ones frantically conjuring new tricks to relive that bliss. The social critique is faintly peppered all over, without appearing obtrusive, except on a couple of occasions where short lectures on sanctity find their way out through moral guardian mouths.
Thematically, the film might not be feminist though it often suggests otherwise. The male-bashing, if you can call it that, is meditative at its worst. Fingers are pointed left and right and there is plenty of source material for introspection, irrespective of your sex. There are some real important and intriguing questions being probed here, and it’s actually fun finding out the answers.
Sugunan holds our attention right there because we are fascinated by the frustration of this man who goes about playing a game without any opponents in sight. He could be one of those stereotyped sexists with a total disregard for anything vaguely feminine. I believe he isn’t one of them however; he’s simply an odd man brought up in an essentially patriarchal environment and continually fed on weird notions of authority. His wife is a perfect foil to his dictatorial outlook, in that she’s as much submissive as she is resentful, thereby rendering him bewildered at times.
It’s not everyday that you come across a film as this with a whole lot of sunny optimism pouring in from all corners. Even as there is a terrible breakdown midway through, you know for sure that things are bound to end up right. Perhaps there are a few instances in the film that really require a leap of faith and yet I found myself playing along. As much as I resent those sugared tales where the tumbled house of cards builds back on its own, I could take the film for what it is – light, cheery and amusing.
Veruthe Oru Bharya is a surprisingly strong showcase for its stars. Gopika is a revelation; there’s an irrefutable magic about her, and in this most complex of her movie roles, it comes through with a unique poignancy. She fully inhabits the vulnerability of the downtrodden wife without ever overriding the central conflict. Jayaram is as endearing as well. He finally gets to play his age and even make fun of himself, and discarding the strange carelessness that had made his recent enterprises so unbearable, goes about his job with a precision that’s marvelous. There’s also Niveda, who comes up with a shearing performance as the daughter who’s truly shattered by the tragedy that befalls her family.
Akku Akbar’s film is a wildly entertaining and companionable one. And it’s blessedly unpretentious as well. There aren’t any gimmicks at play here; instead there are genuine delights that come by way of that tight script y Gireesh Kumar that succeeds on its own terms. There’s little ambiguity in where this story is headed and Shaji’s visuals are indescribably forceful. Events are clear-cut, and proceed in a progressive succession.
Not often has the dynamics of familial discord been portrayed on screen with such palpable power. Faintly reminiscent of those feel-good yarns of the not-so-distant past, Veruthe Oru Bharya is thoroughly and thoughtfully entertaining to the hilt.
Cast: Jayaram, Gopika, Siddique, BijuMenon, Innocent,Suraj Venjaramood, Jaffer Idukki
Director: Akku Akbar