Kumbalangi Nights : A tale of unusual heroes (Review by Jaffin Majeed )

Few months back, I had written about my distaste on Varathans climax. And no surprises, it did not sit well with some of my friends and the fans. So months later when another popular movie takes on the same topic and handles it wonderfully in the climax, it feels obligatory that I share my take on it.

So what has Kumbalangi nights and Varathan have in common? At first glance, there’s nothing much. The tone and mood of both are very different. One filled with lighthearted humor and other feels gritty and suspenseful. But eventually both(and the characters in them) has to confront the same villains; patriarchy and moral policing.

First the women in the movies are different or highly contrasted. Varathans heroine constantly asks her guy to confront the villains. In Kumbalangi, the women don’t shy down in front of the misogynistic stares and questions. They don’t wait for their boyfriend or even look for their support. The decisions they make are justified and they are unashamed/unapologetic of it. The mother character refuses to come back home for her children unlike the cliched movie mother who sacrifices everything. But here even that decision is justified and defended by the elder brother when the hero gets enraged. The heroine isn’t afraid to say no and she isn’t ashamed to admit that she too has desires.

Let’s get right into the climax, in Varathan the hero has to protect his girl. He rises above his fears and faces the villains. He “becomes a man” and singlehandedly (almost) defeats every one of them and beats few extra to the ones who were directly responsible also. (How original 🙄)

In Kumbalangi, the situation is similar – the safety of the heroine is at risk. But he isn’t able to save them. Not without the help from his brothers. In fact it is the most youngest brother who is the most smartest of the lot, who finally subdues the villain using his wits. There’s no larger than life sequence, no swift fight moves, no heroism. The only heroism is the one that actually matters. The decision to rise above his fears and his decision to face the villain.

“Being a man” is actually shown as the villain here. He is a self proclaimed “complete man”. He believes he needs to be in charge of the house. Protect the women in his family. All these are shown as the problem. Whereas Varathan shows these as the solution, which I find disturbing. (Coincidentally or not, both these characters are played by Fahad)

There are no cliches here. It is just life. It feels real. And because of it, it is beautiful.

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