Stand up movie review: Rajisha Vijayan delivers her finest performance in this hard-hitting film
Stand Up is one of those films whose second half is better executed than the first
Given its title, some may assume the film is about stand-up comedians while others may think it has something to do with school days or women empowerment. This last would be accurate. So, in a way, the title is apt.
Nimisha plays a stand-up comedian, of course, but the film doesn't revolve around that aspect. Her character, Keerthi, is not the primary character but is essential to the narrative. Her stand-up routine is a means to discuss a serious issue, as we learn much later. Her relatives don't get this though. They think she is just another 'mimicry' artiste.
The film's promos have already made it quite obvious that something bad happens to one of the female characters. That character is Diya (Rajisha Vijayan). Her story is similar to Parvathy's character from Uyare, in that both are put through severe emotional and physical trauma by their terribly insecure and infuriatingly-possessive boyfriends. The only difference here is the nature of the violence committed against them. The central conflict arises out of the fact that Keerthi and Diya are friends and the perpetrator happens to be the former's brother.
How would a sister react to such a complicated situation? How would she deal with the parents, of both parties, who are eager to hush it up to protect their families' reputation? Both women are struggling to break free of the bounds of their patriarchal environments.
Director Vidhu Vincent adds some nice flourishes here and there. In one scene, a father tells his little daughter to not speak "when grown-ups are talking"; in another, Keerthi's mother is seen driving a car but is powerless in front of her husband. Talk about being selectively progressive. Keerthi detests this weakness: she wouldn't mind hitting her father back if the need arises.
But this is ultimately Diya's story. She not only has to deal with the after-effects of the trauma but also the uncomfortable ordeals at hospitals and police stations. A skillfully-staged medical examination scene shows how women can also be insensitive towards someone of their gender. And what about the cops? They won't establish it as rape unless the smallest, most irrelevant details are also shared. It's their idea of "entertainment."
This is one of those films whose second half is better executed than the first. The writing/editing in the first half is a mess. It's risky to show the characters' past, present, and future simultaneously without giving us any indication as to which is which. And some of the performances in the first half are unintentionally hilarious, courtesy one male actor. In a film dealing with such a serious subject, isn't it important to make sure the viewers are fully engaged?
But the film improves greatly post-interval, where, unlike the first half, our attention doesn't go in multiple directions. There is more control to be found in the plotting and editing, and the overall narrative structure begins to make more sense as you inch closer towards the finale. And Rajisha's brave and affecting performance provides the much-needed boost. It's undoubtedly her finest performance so far. This is a film that may require a trigger warning, but it's something that needs to be seen. It is disturbing, enraging and uplifting all at once.