Kakshi: Amminipilla Movie Review: An essential film for our times
A light-hearted entertainer that makes all the necessary statements
There are no villains in Asif Ali's new film Kakshi: Amminipilla -- unless you want to consider parents who force their children into marriages they don't want. The titular character, Shajith a.k.a Amminipilla (Ahmed Sidhique) sees his parents and family members as the villains of his story.
An aloof young man employed abroad, Shajith has an unpleasant surprise waiting for him when he lands in his hometown, Thalassery. With the help of an opportunistic marriage broker (Mamukoya), his parents forcefully marry him off to a plump woman Kanthi (Shibla). He has no say in this regard: his parents and relatives are very confident about the choices they're making for him. He is not given a chance to interact with Kanthi. "That's what the first night is for," he is told.
The wedding ceremony is over and he starts to feel the noose tightening around his neck before the first night has even passed. To make matters worse, the so-called honeymoon -- to Palani of all places, also arranged by his parents -- involves an entire busload of people. During lunch, he explodes. "I want a divorce!" he yells. But they don't take him seriously. He explodes again. Now they get it.
Director: Dinjith Ayyathan
Cast: Asif Ali, Ahmed Sidhique, Shibla, Vijayaraghavan
This is the sort of film that, if made in Hindi, would feature Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar. Something similar had already been made -- Dum Laga Ke Haisha, in which Ayushmann and Bhumi portrayed a physically incompatible couples. But the actual protagonist of this film is a lawyer-cum-aspiring politician named Pradeepan Manjodi (Asif Ali) who half-heartedly decides to argue Shajith's case in court. On the opposite side is a senior advocate, RP (Vijayaraghavan).
Kanthi tells him she likes Shajith. But we are never told why. I found this little character detail confusing. Why does she like him? She didn't even get to know him yet. And he is not the sort of person you immediately warm up to. But at the same time, Kanthi is also one of the film's strongest characters. She is someone who won't go down without a fight.
Though Pradeepan initially doesn't warm to Shajith's plight, the two turn into friends later. The initial phase of their interactions is chaotic because of their unwillingness to get off their high horses. It's not easy for us to warm up to Pradeepan either. We have no clue about his agenda. But that doesn't mean some fun can't be derived from their interactions. It's one of the film's strong points. These are the sort of people we see around us all the time. So even the mundane conversations are engaging. I bet there isn't a single character in the film who doesn't remind you of a relative. Basil Joseph is hilarious as Pilakool Shamsu, a lawyer who occasionally moonlights as a 'celebrity' wedding singer. His songs are intolerable to even his dearest friends.
As Shajith, Ahmed is very convincing. He turns Shajith's aloofness and stubbornness into his most irritating qualities. But you can't blame Shajith because he had been conditioned that way. It's slightly relatable because some of us had been that way at one point. When Shajith finally opens up to Pradeepan about his own flaws and also shows an eagerness to change, you can't help but feel for him.
Pradeepan, for whom winning the local election has been a long-cherished dream, sees in the case an opportunity to fuel his political ambitions. His clever antics fetch national attention to the case. TV debates are initiated. We also get a mini-documentary within this film, where people from real-life are asked for their two cents on arranged/love marriage. Pradeepan's presence lends the film a mild Sathyan Anthikkad flavour. If this film were made in the 80s, Mohanlal would be apt as Pradeepan. But pictured today, I can't think of anyone else other than Asif in this role. The actor looks very comfortable.
Kakshi: Amminipilla is a progressive film, sure, but it also plays things too safe. I found its eagerness to please both sides to be one of its minor drawbacks. It's the "OK Kanmani" problem. It's also not very subtle when delivering its messages. But given the seriousness of the issue it addresses and also the fact that its voice has to reach not just the A and B centres, but also C, these flaws are acceptable. It's a light-hearted entertainer that makes all the necessary statements. It's an essential film for our times and should be shown to every Indian parent who makes their children's decisions for them.